Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Plaintiffs, California Settle In-Home Support Cuts Lawsuit

See this press release, which begins:
Lawyers representing IHSS consumers, unions and the State of California have reached a settlement that will prevent the implementation of devastating cuts to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). The settlement resolves a federal lawsuit, David Oster et al. v. Lightbourne (formerly V.L. v. Wagner). The settlement also resolves a second lawsuit challenging wage reductions for IHSS providers.

In the Oster lawsuit, IHSS recipients and their caregivers had won temporary court orders over the past 4 years that stopped the State from implementing cuts to IHSS. These cuts would have meant a significant reduction in hours, or complete disqualification from IHSS, for hundreds of thousands of current IHSS recipients. The State had appealed the earlier favorable court decisions, which meant that a higher court could allow the deep cuts in IHSS to go into effect. Finally, the settlement provides a pathway to stabilize the IHSS program with new revenue and the possibility of restoring all cuts in IHSS hours (including the 3.6% cut that went into effect in 2009) over the next two years.

In the settlement, the State has agreed to repeal and eliminate two major cuts to IHSS: (1) the 20% across-the-board reduction in IHSS hours from 2011, and (2) the termination or reduction in IHSS for many recipients based on their functional index score from 2009.

Instead, the settlement:
  • Replaces the permanent 20% cut in IHSS hours with a temporary 8% cut in July 2013. (This is an additional 4.4% on top of the 3.6% current cut.) 
  • Reduces the cut to 7% (3.4% on top of the 3.6% current cut) in July 2014. 
  • Restores the hours lost from the 7% cut as early as the spring of 2015 if the State obtains federal approval of a provider fee which could bring significant new federal revenue to California. 
  • Commits any savings from retroactive federal approval of the new provider fee to fund a program to benefit IHSS recipients, such as the SSI Special Circumstances program, which was used to pay for refrigerators and stoves, rent to avoid eviction and other emergency needs but has not been funded in the budget for many years.

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