Judge halts cuts to in-home care services


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Disabled residents came by the hundreds, many in their wheelchairs, to send the message that budget cuts slashing the state's in-home supportive services program would mean an end to their independence.

"If we lose this, we end up not getting the help and if we don't get the help, what do we do, we end up in nursing homes," El Sobrante resident Jean Stewart said.

More than 130,000 elderly and disabled Californians faced reductions in their in-home care, but siding with disability rights activists who sued the state, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken put a halt to the cuts less than two weeks before they would have taken effect.

Notices of the cuts had already been sent, the judge said those letters were too difficult to understand and left little time for appeals.

"Cutting back on hours is not going to do anything but hurt John and all the clients out here, the old and the young," in-home support Mark Nelson said.

But reversing the cuts may not be easy. In a statement, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services said, "We will comply with the judge's order, but we cannot quickly reverse some of the complex payroll system changes that have already been made, so there may be some delay."

The cuts would have saved the state $82 million this fiscal year alone and $137 million every year after that.

Disabled residents like Mark Beckwith say they could not survive without their in-home help.

"I think there's a misconception that somehow there's a lot of extra money being spent, that it's not necessary and there are all kinds of people cheating and that's just not true," Berkeley resident Mark Beckwith said.

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