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Counties are getting budget help for indigent adults, but is it enough?

By in Press Enterprise on May 16, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

Counties straining to pay the higher cost of in-home care for California’s neediest adults are getting a $400 million lifeline from Gov. Jerry Brown.

But while counties are grateful for the money in the governor’s revised budget, they still worry about the long-term cost of In-Home Supportive Services or IHSS.

“If nothing changes in a few years, vital services in health care, social services and public safety will be at risk,” California State Associations of Counties President Keith Carson, an Alameda County supervisor, said in a news release.

For now, the money is a welcome relief for counties that faced a massive surge in IHSS costs – $623 million more to start and $2 billion more over six years – because the state wanted counties to pay more to keep the program going.

In his revised budget, Gov. Jerry Brown added $400 million to help counties pay for In-Home Supportive Services, a program that helps disabled indigent adults live at home.

For the next two years, “counties will be able to avoid major cuts to critical programs and services that would have been devastated if the January budget had remained what it was,” said Matt Cate, executive director of CSAC, which lobbies for counties’ interests in Sacramento.

To handle a projected $37 million hit, Riverside County, which has more than enough money woes, planned to cut most departments’ budgets by 6.5 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.

With the help from Sacramento, “the changes could reduce the effect by at least two-thirds of what the county originally feared,” said county spokesman Ray Smith.

Open to adults on Medi-Cal – the state’s version of the federal Medicaid health insurance program for the poor – IHSS serves about half a million Californians.

Without the program, many indigent adults would have to live in a hospital or institution. IHSS advocates […]    

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