In-Home Supportive Services Vital in Tough Economic Times

“We give people their lives back, as much as we are able. We give them dignity. We give them love.”

“If it were not for IHSS and my very competent and caring IHSS provider I would be living in a nursing home. I have terminal cancer and can no longer care for myself in important ways.”

“With the help that IHSS provides through the money she earns, I’m able to live at home and be with my family. I could never survive alone in a nursing home.”

“I want to remind everyone that has the future of the IHSS program in their hands, that in a blink of an eye, your lives can change forever like ours did and you could be facing the harsh reality of having one of your loved ones permanently disabled.”

Home care workers and the people they care for wrote the words above for “Share Your Story” contest on the UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930 website. Those quotes are just a small sample of the outpouring of stories, poems and pictures that describe what the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program means to hundreds of thousands of Californians.

California’s In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program provides low-income seniors and people with disabilities the care they need to live in their own homes, rather than nursing facilities. IHSS providers care for the elderly who want the familiarity of the homes they’ve lived in for decades, the terminally ill and those who cannot take care of themselves.

Governor Brown’s budget proposes deep cuts to the IHSS program that will dramatically change the lives of homecare providers and those they care for. The cuts include a reduction in the hours of care for the elderly and disabled by 8.4 percent, on top of the 3.6 percent reduction in the last budget. Not only will recipients get less care, providers will see their work hours and wages cut.

The cuts also eliminate services like housework and meal preparation for more than 300,000 IHSS recipients. Those cuts are particularly painful to clients who depend on their IHSS provider for the only hot meal they have all day—meals that will now be fewer and far between.

After reading the stories on the UDW about how IHSS has changed so many lives—and allowed so many to live and die with dignity—it is heart-wrenching to think about the cuts to IHSS. In addition to the human impact cuts on IHSS have, Doug Moore, executive director of UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930, outlines a practical reason to oppose the cuts:

While we understand the severity of our state’s budget crisis, the fact is that IHSS is a budget solution, not a budget problem. IHSS saves California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year by keeping people out of nursing homes (nursing home care costs at least five times more than IHSS home care). It also brings billions of dollars in Federal matching funds.  And by keeping people in their communities and out of institutions, IHSS recipients and those who care for them contribute significantly to the local economy.

SEIU California Executive Director David Kieffer summed it up best:

While we support the Governor’s balanced approach, it’s far from perfect. We will advocate for improvements to this budget so that it better reflects California’s values.  We must pass a budget that ensures that frail seniors and people with disabilities aren’t put in harm’s way; that struggling families get the help they need to eat and pay the rent; and that our schools, colleges and universities stay strong.