Judge Blocks Medi-Cal Cuts for Elderly, Disabled

     (CN) – A federal judge in Oakland blocked California from capping health-care services for low-income seniors and disabled adults in an attempt to offset the state’s budget woes.

     U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled for a group of elderly and disabled adults, who argued that temporary budget cuts would increase their risk of being hospitalized or institutionalized.
     State lawmakers had authorized California to reduce services in the Medi-Cal Adult Health Care program (ADHC), a community-based program that provides health care and other services to poor seniors and disabled adults.
     Assembly Bill ABX4 5 of the Budget Act of 2009 capped the program’s benefits at three days per week, instead of the previous four or five days a week.
     Judge Armstrong said the “balance of hardships and public interest” tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.
     “The evidence presented by Plaintiffs show that the continuing availability of five days of ADHC services per week is critical to their physical and mental health and their continuing ability to remain integrated in their community, as opposed to being isolated in a nursing home or other institution,” the judge wrote.
     The judge acknowledged that the eliminated services could be replaced by alternative services, but said the state failed to show that measures were in place to ensure a seamless transition.

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