Last summer, our San Diego elder abuse attorney explained that state budget cuts threatened to do away with California’s Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) system. The system was established in the 1970s, partially as a response to stories of nursing home abuse or neglect. According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, the cuts that many seniors, their caretakers, and elder advocates have feared for months will take effect on December 1, 2011.
The cuts will eliminate funding for day programs for thousands of seniors and the disabled. Some relatives fear that they now will have to institutionalize their loved ones. Others worry that they will have to quit their jobs or reduce their workload in a job market that is not tolerant of the need for flexibility. At the same time, an increase in San Diego elder abuse or neglect could occur as many seniors are institutionalized or transitioned into programs where initially caretakers will not be familiar with individual residents’ needs.
California’s ADHC system was initially designed to be a cost effective way to keep elders healthy while still enabling them to remain in the community. Seniors involved in the program typically attend adult day care centers a few days per week, which allow them to participate in group activities and exercise. Qualified personnel such as nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers are generally present to help address any medical needs.
The threat of budget cuts has already caused 23 adult day care centers to close this year. Three others plan to close by the end of November. At the end of the year, according to the San Jose Mercury News, the state will end $169 million in annual Medi-Cal funding for 35,000 people in 287 adult day health care programs throughout California, that is, unless a pending lawsuit blocks the state’s plan.
Despite the concerns of staff currently working at adult day care programs, state leaders say there are alternatives to institutionalization or to family members bearing the entire burden of caring for their loved ones. State leaders are transitioning elders and disabled individuals into Medi-Cal managed care plans. They also hope to expand programs that help coordinate care and provide in-home services and other support. Norman Williams, spokesman for the California Department of Health Care Services, stated that the department’s “top goal is to make sure recipients are transferred into services that meet their needs and allow them to remain in the community.”
However, Disability Rights California and other groups have sued the state, seeking a preliminary injunction to block the budget cuts. The lawsuit alleges that the plan will deprive people of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it fails to do enough to enable them to remain in the community and to avoid institutionalization. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability and provides protections for Americans who suffer from a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” As seniors are shuffled around in order to accommodate state budget cuts, North County elder abuse lawsuits also may be filed if elders are harmed during the transition.
If you are concerned that the state budget cuts could affect your loved one or if you are worried that a friend or relative is being neglected or abused, please seek professional help immediately. Our San Diego elder neglect lawyer knows that your loved ones deserve the best medical care and attention possible. The lawyers at the Walton Firm have successfully handled many California nursing home abuse lawsuits and are available for a free legal consultation today.
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