KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

California Budget Could Force Seniors To Nursing Homes, Drive Up Costs

NPR reports that California's $26.3 billion budget deficit is marginalizing seniors who rely on California state-provided health care and service to help them manage their lives.

"One endangered program is in-home support services for more than 400,000 elderly and disabled. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting those services for all but the most severe cases, which could force many who are now independent to move into nursing homes. … Flora Mae King of San Bernadino turned 102 last Sunday. She lives alone in a senior apartment complex, relying on state-funded, in-home support for shopping and help around the house. Now, as California nears a decision on budget cuts to clear up a multi-billion dollar deficit, her in-home support will be cut and she will have to move into a nursing home" (Diamante, 7/19).

The cuts could also bring higher costs to the system as the elimination of home and adult day care could push recipients into more expensive programs, The Los Angeles Times reports. "The governor's plan to take away such care is meant to save money. But it could end up costing California more by forcing the 85-year-old (Irene Steinlage), who has Parkinson's, osteoporosis and other ailments -- and thousands like her -- into nursing homes. … Administration officials say tax hikes would further damage the economy, push revenue down and drive businesses and entrepreneurs out of the state, in addition to forcing California to reduce services even further." Schwarzenegger says California can no longer afford to provide services that are far more generous than other states offer, The Los Angeles Times reports (Rothfeld and Halper, 7/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.