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* * * M E D I A A D V I S O R Y * * *
GOVERNOR PROPOSES ELIMINATION OF
FAMILY CAREGIVER ALLIANCE AND OTHER
Budget Item 4440
SAN FRANCISCO—Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed revisions to the California State Budget will dramatically affect family caregivers. Families rely on critical support services to help keep loved ones with debilitating health conditions at home, out of expensive nursing homes. Those services will be eliminated.
Particularly devastated will be families dealing with brain-damaging disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and other disabling conditions requiring long-term care not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
Eighty percent of long-term care is provided at home, not in facilities. If families are unable to serve as the volunteer healthcare workforce, nursing homes will be flooded with patients unable to remain at home, and Medi-Cal, already under attack, will be pushed beyond capacity. Caregivers who also work outside the home will be at greater risk of losing their jobs--and their health insurance--as they struggle to provide care, putting even more pressure on state unemployment funds.
According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, there are 4,000,000 family caregivers in California, providing unpaid healthcare services valued at $48 billion.
The proposed cuts are short-sighted and ill-conceived. Slated for elimination or drastic reductions are ALL 11 Caregiver Resource Centers throughout California including Family Caregiver Alliance, along with support services including Adult Day Health Centers, Alzheimer's Research Centers and Linkages programs. The cuts would remove almost 80% of older and disabled adults from In-Home Support Services (IHSS).
Family Caregiver Alliance Executive Director Kathleen Kelly said the cuts are "unacceptable and unconscionable. Proven support services such as FCA's delay nursing home placement by six to nine months, saving the state millions of dollars.
Millions of California families care at home for a very frail elderly and disabled population. They provide essential--but unpaid--healthcare, and cannot continue without support. These draconian cuts dismantle three decades of successful programs which made California a model for the nation in cost-effective caregiver services. Instead of saving the state money, eliminating these services will increase the costs of long-term care," Kelly predicted. "By our calculations, nearly a half-million people in California are at highest risk for nursing home placement. The cost to Medi-Cal would be $60,500 per year per person."
Phyllis Gant, an Oakland caregiver, called Family Caregiver Alliance services a "life-saver" in helping her take care of her mother, who suffers from dementia. "I need help," Gant said, "and the services give me strength to go on. I'm just trembling--totally overwhelmed--and I'm devastated that the Governor is thinking of cutting this program I need so desperately.
On Wednesday morning, June 3, a budget hearing will determine the fate of crucial caregiver support services. FCA is urging family caregivers to contact the Governor and legislators to explain how the cuts will affect their ability to provide care.
Family Caregiver Alliance programs support and sustain the important work of families and friends caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions. FCA offers programs at national, state and local levels. A wealth of caregiving advice, resource listings, newsletters, fact sheets, research reports, policy updates and discussion groups are available free on our website. Visit www.caregiver.org or call (800) 445-8106 for more information.
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