A record-breaking 10-day campaign by thousands of IHSS providers and consumers from throughout the state reached its crescendo June 13th as some five thousand IHSS consumers and members of UDW Homecare Providers Union, SEIU, and California United Homecare Workers rallied at the State Capitol.
As thousands chanted and cheered outside in 95-degree heat, hundreds of providers and consumers inside rocked the Capitol Rotunda and the hallway leading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office with an ear-splitting shout: “No More Cuts!” Nearly 50 consumers and providers, including a wheel-chair-bound woman who had just celebrated her 100th birthday, were arrested when they refused to leave the Rotunda. They were released shortly afterwards.
The ambitious campaign, which began on June 5th, is built on the theme: “IHSS Saves Money and Saves Lives.” Day after day, providers and consumers have rallied outside and lobbied their legislators inside the Capitol demanding that the Legislature vote No on the cuts to the IHSS program proposed by Gov. Brown in his May revised budget. On June 15th, the legislature passed a budget with no substantial cuts to homecare, which is currently awaiting the Governor's signature.
Sources at the Capitol say that they cannot remember any other group that has conducted such a sustained campaign with so many participants over a 10-day period.
Events have included a moving Candlelight Vigil, in which providers and consumers gave heartfelt testimonials on how IHSS has made a difference in their lives.
Another impressive event was a teach-in, entitled ”Courage To Care College” in which “courses” in history, social studies, politics and math were held to educate legislators about the value of IHSS.
The “math” course explained how IHSS saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year over what nursing home care would cost; brings billions to California in federal matching funds; and helps support local economies through provider and consumer spending. Unfortunately, IHSS has been a prime target for budget cuts, even though it is a budget solution, not a budget problem.
In addition to opposing cuts, the protestors have advocated changes in the IHSS program that would provide better, more coordinated care to IHSS recipients and save the state even more money. The new proposal is called “Let’s Get Healthy at Home.”