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Judge continues to block cuts to in-home care

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POSTED January 19, 2012 8:15 p.m.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday prohibited the state from reducing funding for California's in-home supportive services program, which serves about 435,000 low-income seniors and the disabled.

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland issued a preliminary injunction against the state. She expressed concern that the state's 20 percent reduction puts seniors at risk and violates the American With Disabilities Act.

Gov. Jerry Brown's finance spokesman, H.D. Palmer, said the state will appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last month, Wilken imposed a temporary restraining order, which stopped the state from moving ahead with the cuts, which were designed to save $100 million in the current fiscal year and $200 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The spending cut was imposed after tax revenue fell short of assumptions contained in last summer's budget.

The In-Home Supportive Services program pays caretakers, many of them family members, hourly wages and benefits between $8 and $14.78 to help people get dressed, cook and bathe.

The lawsuit was filed by Disability Rights California and other groups on behalf of in-home support recipients and by unions that include five Service Employees International Union locals and the United Domestic Workers-American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Union members include in-home caregivers and attendants.

The unions representing the workers argued the state should not be allowed to cut benefits because it risks institutional placement, which violates federal disability and health care laws.

Labor leaders praised the judge's decision, saying it will help keep seniors and people with disabilities living in their own homes.

"Judge Wilken's ruling affirms what long-term caregivers have long known: the in-home care services we provide are the most compassionate option for frail seniors and people with disabilities and the best alternative to costly institutionalization," Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers, said in a statement.

 

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