by Steve Mehlman and Allison Padgett | July 12, 2012
AFSCME home care providers stop additional cuts to California’s most vulnerable residents during a 10-day protest at the Capitol. (Photo by Nelsy Bork)
AFSCME home care providers and our allies in California campaigned tirelessly to stop additional cuts to the state’s elderly and disabled. Now, after six months of struggle – including one 10-day protest – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a budget which contains no new cuts to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).
Brown signed the budget on June 27, signaling victory in this year’s battle. Throughout the fight, we also made strides to improve home care for the future.
Gone from the budget are a proposed 7 percent across-the-board cut and a proposed elimination of all domestic and related IHSS services for consumers who live with another adult. The only IHSS cut remaining in the budget is a one-year continuation of an existing cut from 2011.
“Our message was heard loud and clear: Home care saves money and saves lives,” says Doug Moore, executive director of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 and recently re-elected AFSCME international vice president. “We delivered 75,000 petitions to the governor’s office signed by the community, home care consumers and providers to win this victory.”
For home care providers, who make as little as $8 an hour and have struggled with years of devastating cuts, the victory was a long time coming. “Many of us wake up in the morning worrying if we can even fill our gas tank,”says Gail Ennis, a home care provider from Butte County and president of CUHW/ AFSCME Local 4034. “And we see first-hand how cuts hurt the most vulnerable – consumers who can barely get the amount of care they need to survive.”
According to Ennis and Moore, stopping cuts and stabilizing funding was just one part of the campaign. Joined by consumer groups, UDW and CUHW have also been working with lawmakers to make important changes for the future of home care. One of our goals is to integrate home and health care to improve quality services for consumers while making the program more cost-effective. The new budget moves that process forward. In addition, collective bargaining for home care providers will be shifted from 58 counties to one state agency for the first time.
Home care providers account for thousands of AFSCME members across the country, including our newly elected AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes. We are leading the way for quality home-based care for all those who need it and justice for all those who provide it.