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As State Funding Agreement Ends, Counties Look For Other Ways To Pay For In-Home Supportive Services

Darron Cummings / AP
 

Darron Cummings / AP

California counties are trying to figure out how they’ll keep funding a program that helps seniors and disabled people. That’s because the state is poised to end a five-year agreement that helped pay for In-Home Supportive Services.

Now counties say they’re facing more than $500 million in new costs. 

Counties around the state offer In-Home Supportive Services, which hundreds of thousands of Californians – mainly seniors – rely on for help, from getting to doctor’s appointments to routine housework. 

Farrah McDaid Ting is with the California State Association of Counties.

“The idea of the program is to keep people out of institutions, which are far more costly, and have far worse outcomes,” says McDaid.

She also says in 2012 the state agreed to help cover a growing part of the cost for IHSS. It was part of a pilot program they hoped would save money, but it didn’t work out because of low enrollment. Now the state is handing the full expense back to counties – and then some.

“It’s almost like the state ran up the bill, and now they’re giving it back to us,” says Ting.

According to Ting, expenses will only keep rising as California’s minimum wage ticks up. She says counties want the state to shoulder at least some of that added expense. They’re hoping to work out a budget tweak between now and summer, while the current funding runs out.