Governor Proposes Major Cuts to Health and Human Services Including Medi-Cal, SSI/SSP and IHSS

Governor Proposes Major Cuts to Health and Human Services Including Medi-Cal, SSI/SSP and IHSS

According to a recent report from California Disability Community Action Network (CDCAN), Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing major cuts that would end several optional Medi-Cal benefits and cut or reduce benefits to certain Supplemental Security Income (SSI), State Supplementary Payment (SSP) and In-Home-Supportive Services (IHSS) programs. These cuts would impact children and adults with disabilities, people with mental health needs, seniors, the blind, low-income children and families, and providers across California. Governor Schwarzenegger plans to call the Legislature back in for a special session before November 30th to address the state’s budget crisis – a budget shortfall projected to be as high as $11 billion. Governor Schwarzenegger hopes to have these proposed cuts approved by the current Legislature. This way the cuts would apply for this budget year which began July 1, 2008, and also extend through the next budget year (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010).  In some cases, such as with the proposed elimination of the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants, which provides SSP level state funded grants to eligible legal immigrants who have disabilities, are blind or are over 65 years of age, would be permanent, as would the cuts proposed for IHSS and Medi-Cal.

Below are some highlights from CDCAN’s report that would affect California’s adults with disabilities and seniors:

Medi-Cal

  • Proposal to reduce California Medi-Cal benefits to the level of benefits most other states’ Medicaid programs provide by permanently eliminating the following optional benefits: adult dental (excluding children), chiropractic, incontinence creams and washes, acupuncture, audiology, podiatry, and psychology Medi-Cal funded services.
  • Proposal to reduce Medi-Cal benefits for newly qualified immigrants and immigrants who permanently live in California to the same level currently provided to undocumented immigrants. Medi-Cal benefits that would remain include emergency services, pregnancy related services, long-term care in nursing home facilities, and breast and cervical cancer treatments.
  • Proposal to reinstate share of cost for Medi-Cal services for persons with disabilities, people who are blind or seniors with incomes over the SSI/SSP limits.  Eligibility for Medi-Cal without a share of cost for those persons was expanded in January 2001 from 69% to up to 127% of the federal poverty level through the Aged and Disabled Federal Poverty Level program.
  • Proposal to cut emergency services for undocumented immigrants by implementing a monthly eligibility determination for emergency services for undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants currently receive up to 6 months of health services after an initial eligibility determination.  The Governor’s proposal would limit those services to 1 month unless and until there is a subsequent health emergency.

 

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) 

  • Proposal to cut the state’s participation (matching funds) for IHSS worker wages and benefits to the level of California’s minimum wage ($8/hour).
  • Proposal to eliminate IHSS domestic and related services for some people receiving IHSS with a higher functionality.  (Note IHSS has an index to measure a person’s ‘functionality’). Would maintain those services for persons with less functionality.  Proposed effective date if approved would be March 1, 2009.

SSI/SSP (Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment)

  • Proposal to permanently eliminate the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), effective (if approved) March 1, 2009.

For more information, see CDCAN’s website for more information.

World Institute on Disabilities’ (WID) website, Disability Benefits 101, has detailed information on Medi-Cal, IHSS and SSI/SSP.

See our website sections on Medi-Cal and other programs for people with low-incomes.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.