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Judge blocks cuts to home care program

October 19, 2009 |  4:45 pm

A federal judge today blocked California from cutting in-home aid for 130,000 elderly and disabled state residents whose services would have been reduced or eliminated as of Nov. 1.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland issued a preliminary injunction against the $263.5 million in cuts, siding with the plaintiffs’ argument that the state’s method of determining whose services would be cut was unfair.

“The short answer is we’re very relieved,” said Melinda Bird, senior counsel for Disability Rights California and an attorney involved in the class-action case.

The funding, which was cut in July as part of the state budget, pays for aides to cook, clean, shop and perform other services to assist the elderly or infirm so they can remain in their homes rather than be forced into nursing homes or other facilities.

Before today’s court ruling, an estimated 36,000 Californians faced elimination of such services. Another 97,000 would have had their services reduced. The program serves approximately 462,000 Californians.

-- Shane Goldmacher