Cuts to Care for Old Folks in California Challenged

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Medi-Cal recipients filed a federal class action challenging California’s plan to reduce Adult Day Health Care Services to seniors who need help in most aspects of daily life.

     The class wants the state Department of Health Care Services enjoined from making “devastating cuts” and reducing services from five to three days a week, which will force people into more expensive hospitals and nursing homes.
     The community-based ADHC program provides disabled low-income seniors, such as lead plaintiff Lillie Brantley, 84, with an alternative to a nursing home by shuttling her to a local day facility for nursing care.
     Brantley has severe Alzheimer’s disease, a seizure disorder, hyperlipidemia and has had a stroke. Since she requires extensive help with feeding, bathing and dressing, she attends ADHC five times a week, where she can socialize with others while receiving physical therapy, meals, medication and help with grooming.
     With the program cuts scheduled for on Aug. 27, Brantley and other class members may have no option but to be placed in homes. Their attorney Elizabeth Zirker says none of her clients want to be separated from their families and communities but cannot afford around-the-clock private care.
     “These people have limited resources, and it’s actually a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act if their services are cut and they’re forced into homes,” Zirker said, referring to a 1999 Supreme Court decision which held that unnecessary institutionalization of disabled people constitutes discrimination under the ADA.
     Zirker added that cutting the ADHC program is “a bad budget move” because the program is much cheaper than funding state-run nursing homes.
     “This ADHC is actually a cost-effective program,” Zirker said. “But there’s a strong nursing home lobby in California and that’s one of the reasons why nursing homes have higher rates.”
     The class wants California enjoined from making the cuts.
     “All these budget cuts to elder care are a mistake,” said Zirker. “There’s no justification for it and there needs to be a different approach to the budget crisis. It shouldn’t be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable.”
     The class is represented by Zirker and Jay Koslofsky with Disability Rights California of Oakland.

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