“They are always implementing cuts [and] their target is always the most vulnerable,” says Ramiro Cordoba, regarding the Governor's proposed cuts to health and human services. These cuts could be devastating for in-home health care workers like Cordoba who make between $8 and $11.50 per hour. “If the hours are cut for the client, then there are cuts in our pay.” Cordoba is an organizer for the United Domestic Workers Union (UDW) in Riverside.
On January 10, members of the UDW protested against these cuts in front of the State building in downtown San Bernardino. “We were out there to find ways to have more revenue,” Cordoba continued.
Governor Jerry Brown released his budget on January 10, 2012. It included $1.7 billion in cuts to the Medi-Cal program, which funds many assisted-living programs for the elderly, including the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. The proposed cuts would affect the over 18,000 people in San Bernardino that need help with their day-to-day care, according to Scott Mann, spokesperson for the Services Employees International Union, United Long Term Care Workers (SEIU ULTCW) in San Bernardino.
The number of hours that in-home health care workers are paid to spend with their elderly or disabled clients would be cut. “These people specifically work for people who qualify for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), serving low income seniors and people with disabilities,” he said. SEIU long-term care workers protested alongside the UDW members. “They were there to speak out against the governors cuts to IHSS,” said Mann.
On January 19, Judge Claudia Wilken continued a preliminary injunction, which stops the cuts to the IHSS program. “The cut was part of the governors ‘trigger’ cuts, because the state did not make the expected revenue this year,” Mann states. Had the injuction not been continued, IHSS would have to reduce the number in-home service hours provided to its clients by 20 percent.
Not only would IHSS workers experience pay cuts, but Mann also argues that the reduction in hours would mean that some elderly people would not be able to live at home. They could be forced to live in a board and care facility or nursing home in order to get the around-the-clock care they need.
“If this cut was not stopped, a lot of people may be facing institutionalization," said Mann.
The State is expected to appeal the injunction.