SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Senior advocates and service providers in California call it a stunningly bad move, at the worst possible time. That is the elimination in Governor Gavin Newsom's revised budget of two key programs for frail seniors living at home.
Critics say the cuts amid a global pandemic could cost some elder Californians their lives.
As it has been for 40 years, the Mt. Diablo Center remains a lifeline for seniors, not only in Contra Costa County, but from as far away as Napa. But now, thanks to Governor Gavin Newsom's revised budget, state programs that serve 37,000 homebound seniors in California would be eliminated.
"We knew it was going to be devastating, but we saw complete eliminations of two programs," explained Debbie Toth, CEO and President of Choice in Aging in California. Adult Day Health Care and the Multi-Purpose Senior Services. These programs were designed to and are the only clinical program that keep frail elders living in their homes, instead of in nursing facilities."
That includes Walnut Creek's Bonnie Ronk.
"I'd be devastated because they're my second family and I've been there for six years," said Ronk. "I'd be devastated."
"This is a huge part of their lives," said Ildar Hafizov, who worries his elderly parents would have to move from their own home to a nursing home. "My mom has severe Alzheimer's and we love her dearly," said Hafizov. "We don't want her to have to go to a nursing home. We want her with as much as we can."
The way it is now, the governor's proposed elimination of these programs would happen quickly, by July 1.
"So there's not even time to put an alternate plan in place for these people, for their caregivers, their families," said Toth. "What happens to them?"
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The fear is based in fact. So far about 40 percent of California's coronavirus deaths have come in nursing homes.