Families Concerned By Possible IHSS Changes
California’s In-Home Supportive Services program allows the disabled to remain in their homes by paying for their caregivers. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, a proposal to modify the program is creating tension in the state budget process.
James and Judy Lee are caregivers to this son Justin, who was born with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. Because of the severity of his condition, his mom Judy became certified as an In-Home Supportive Services worker. This allows her to be paid while staying home and caring for Justin. Judy makes about $10 an hour and can be paid for 283 hours a month, the maximum allowed by the state. James says everyone benefits.
James Lee: “The cost of being in an institution would cost the state money, they have found a way to allocate a little bit of the money to the parents to help them off-set the costs they were incurring. And, over all it’s a win-win situation.”
But the situation may be changing.
H.D. Palmer is with Governor Jerry Brown’s Department of Finance.
Palmer: “It’s an issue of cost avoidance.”
He says new federal regulations would require IHSS workers to be paid overtime.
Palmer: “That has the potential to have some significant costs in the coming years.”
Brown’s administration says the change could add $600 million to the $5 billion program over the next two years. Brown proposes capping IHSS pay at 40 hours a week and setting up a system of back-up caregivers.
Legislative Democrats have resisted the plan and Palmer says the Governor is working with them.
The Lees say any cuts to Judy’s hours would be a huge financial hit. And they’re not alone. Last week thousands rallied at the Capitol in opposition to Brown’s plan.