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Families Concerned About Possible Changes To IHSS

 Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio

Judy Lee smiles at her son Justin.

Andrew Nixon, Capital Public Radio

California’s In-Home Supportive Services program allows the disabled to remain in their homes by paying for their caregivers. But a proposal to modify the program is creating tension in the state budget process.

James and Judy Lee are caregivers to this son Justin, who was born with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. Because of the severity of his condition, his mom Judy became certified as an In-Home Supportive Services worker. This allows her to be paid while staying home and caring for Justin. Judy makes about $10 an hour and can be paid for 283 hours a month, the maximum allowed by the state. James says everyone benefits.

“The cost of being in an institution would cost the state money, they have found a way to allocate a little bit of the money to the parents to help them off-set the costs they were incurring," he says. "And, over all it’s a win-win situation.” 

But the situation may be changing.

H.D. Palmer is with Governor Jerry Brown’s Department of Finance. He says new federal regulations would require IHSS workers to be paid overtime.

“That has the potential to have some significant costs in the coming years,” he says. 

Brown’s administration says the change could add $600 million to the $5 billion program over the next two years. Brown proposes capping IHSS pay at 40 hours a week and setting up a system of back-up caregivers.

Legislative Democrats have resisted the plan and Palmer says the Governor is working with them.

The Lees say any cuts to Judy’s hours would be a huge financial hit. And they’re not alone. Last week thousands rallied at the Capitol in opposition to Brown’s plan.

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