Federal suit filed to block massive cuts to in-home supportive services
Advocates for more than 130,000 elderly and disabled recipients of in-home supportive services this morning filed suit in federal court in San Francisco to block more than $53 million in state budget cuts that, as of today, would eliminate or drastically reduce services provided to them.
The suit is the latest example of legal challenges and administrative appeals that may delay tens of millions of dollars in expected budget cuts to health and human services, from adult day care centers to respite and home health aides.
David Oster, 35 of Torrance is among those suing to prevent cuts to in-home supportive services. Oster, who is autistic and bipolar, said he relies on in-home aide Julia Medina, 53, to help with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and other household chores.
"Before she came, this place was a whole mess," Oster, 35, said as he showed off his tidy one-bedroom apartment Wednesday as Medina looked on. "She helped clean up the mess; we worked on that together."
Several advocacy groups joined in the suit, including Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Legal Center, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, the National Health Law Program and four home care workers' unions.
"I think that we will ultimately be successful in convincing a judge that yes, the state can make cuts, but not this way," said Melinda Bird, senior counsel in the Los Angeles office of Disability Rights California. "I would encourage people not to give up."
Advocates also sued last summer to block pay cuts for about 400,000 in-home supportive services aides included in the budget, and won a stay in June.
They have reason to be hopeful. Last month, a federal judge in Oakland issued an injunction blocking a $28.1-million cut to the Medi-Cal Adult Health Care program after advocates sued in August complaining the services were essential for 8,000 elderly disabled recipients.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Photo: David Oster, 35, of Torrance, is among those suing the state to block cuts to in-home supportive services. Oster, who is autistic and bipolar, said before his aide Julia Medina, also pictured, started helping him two years ago he was overwhelmed. Credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times
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