The following letter was sent and will be resend to CA. District Senators as an advocacy effort to reach the CA. Congress that is being forced by Arnold Schwarzenegger to make drastic cuts to the IHSS programs in an attempt to eliminate this program, as to fix the CA. budget crisis.
Jan. 20, 2010
Downey, CA 90241
Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning to make inhumane, and destructive cuts to the IHSS program that will bring about suffering, harm, hardship, destruction and death to lives of thousands of people. The apathy of the Schwarzenegger administration towards people of need is inconceivable, reprehensible, atrocious, and downright despicable. His administration is a violation of the human and civil rights of people with disabilities, the sick, the elderly and the indigent who are in need of services to meet their daily survival needs in a dignified and humane manner which allows them to exercise their freedoms of choice, life, and self determination.
The changes that have been made up to this point to the IHSS program and those that are currently being proposed for the IHSS program are creating for IHSS consumers extreme suffering, harm and hardship. The IHSS program was created to provide a certain level of home care for those in need. Many individuals have used this program as a supplement to other care service resources, since for many people the need is greater than the program actually meets, as to remain semi-independent and out of nursing homes. Due to the program’s financial shortcomings, the IHSS program consumers, who have been receiving services in order to have dependable, trained caregivers, have had some very distressful experiences with the program’s policies, even before the current negative changes to the program were proposed and passed. For example, finding skilled, responsible capable workers who could be long-term caregivers has always be a major problem for IHSS consumers due to the IHSS low wage rate and low service hours. The IHSS program has needed to be upgraded in the areas of provision of service hours of care (especially for the more severely disabled) and higher wages, as to ascertain a better level of care by qualified caregivers. Instead, the IHSS program changes are creating even more chaotic and distressful problems for consumers. These changes can and will completely jeopardize the well being, quality of care and even life survival of consumers.
In 2009, the changes made to IHSS policy including the length of time it can take for a consumer to hire a provider, based on the new policy rules for IHSS caregiver registration that were passed, has created an impossible situation to overcome without the experience of hardship and harm for people who have severe disabilities or, severe medical issues. Individuals whose physical functioning is limited and cannot live independently, “cannot” possibly wait for a lengthy and expensive enrollment process to be completed (a process which also must be essentially an agreeable arrangement with the potential worker) for hire and payment demands for the caregivers to be procured, so that consumers may have their required need for immediate assistance, being now prolonged by the system, met correctly. This delay of essential services is an inevitable cause of negative effects impacting the well being, quality of care, stability of service provision, safety, and medical status of the consumers.
The Schwarzenegger administration is currently proposing more severe cuts, to complete elimination of the IHSS program. Once more, he is showing complete indifference and apathy of what will happen to those who end up without caregivers. Further, the inhumane administration of Schwarzenegger wants to lower caregiver wages to minimum wage. This action will cause the complete elimination of qualified caregivers, who will be willing to work with such low wages and are needed to do the extensive provision of skilled care, medical and non-medical, that is required by many consumer cases. Much care at home is comparable to CNA work done in nursing homes, and in most instances it is that skilled type of provision of care that is required at home by consumers. CNAs are paid up to $11-$12 an hour while Mr. Schwarzenegger wants home caregivers/aides (CNAs or, not) who are needed to provide equal skilled assistance to medically afflicted individuals to get paid minimum wage. It is truly a complete disregard and degradation, by the Schwarzenegger administration, of the rights of all individuals participating in the IHSS program, caregivers and consumers.
Ultimately, IHSS consumers are on the program due to financial need in covering the high expense of home care. People cannot pay out-of-pocket for assistance, otherwise they would not be on IHSS, and may not have available caregivers or, family members to assist them. Should people be forced into nursing homes, even though they can fully participate in the community and live at home because of the reprehensible actions of Schwarzenegger’s administration, who is choosing to discriminate towards the indigent, disabled, and elderly individuals of this society, instead of doing what is right? It is utter “discrimination” when a government administration chooses a specific class of individuals to decimate by eliminating essential provisions of basic life assistance, leading to the degradation of their freedoms and rights to life, and choice for essential care, while refusing funding changes in other areas where people will not be impacted as atrociously.
These potential IHSS cuts are issues of crucial significance for the individuals in need as they can ultimately determine their lives. These issues however, seem to be insignificant and oblivious factors to those who ignorantly want to pass and choose to pass faulty service policies without any awareness, empathy, compassion, sensitivity and understanding of the needs of those who depend on the services of programs, such as IHSS, and how we will be individually affected.
Personally, I am an individual with a severe disability, needing full time care, and I have been receiving IHSS services as to supplement my resources and remain at home and out of a nursing home. I am a full participant in this society and an educated individual, having rights as anyone else, and wanting to live with dignity and choice to quality of care in order that I may have quality of life, as all people desire and strive for in our world. IHSS has been one resource that I have used in order to pay for some of the care that I need. Any loss of my available care service resources, paid and non-paid (immediate family members), would be a detriment to my ability to have stable home care, as I would not be able to cover the expense of full time care. Ultimately, without essential income and resources it is not possible to pay for the level and type of care that I require. Further, I personally know how difficult it is to search, interview, find, secure, hire, train, get-along with, and keep caregivers working long-term, while being on IHSS. It is a constant stressor and frustration, and since caregiver turn-over rate is very high, due to low wages and minimal service hours, finding new people is a constantly stressful, laborious, problematic, hard bearing and draining situation to deal with. If this administration destroys this program then, many people, including me, will suffer. Ultimately IHSS needs to be upgraded not downgraded, as it is being proposed, if it is going to be a program that will allow for quality of care to be a possibility for people, like me, who are in need of such services.
It is truly a shame, that people who have to deal with distressful medical conditions, and financial problems and depend on government assistance, need to go through so much more unnecessary stress, chaos, suffering, harm and problems due to the faulty and inadequate policy making being made by such inhumane, ignorant, biased, and discriminatory administration of Gov Schwarzeneger. I am sorry, that as the people's Governor, people's lives seem so insignificant to him, in comparison to meeting budget debts. His response, to our human concerns and needs, is truly inhumane, and discriminatory towards all who strive to have some quality of care and life in order to make it from day to day.
Please consider the depth of this issue and support our rights to quality of care and life as full citizens of this country, by rejecting any additional harmful cuts to the IHSS program. It is my hope that this matter can be resolved and corrected without a legal class action by all people who are affected and joining together to make this matter right according to our human and civil rights in this country.
Magdalin Marinos, MSW