Yesterday I visited the local office of Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to discuss proposed cuts to IHSS (In-home Supportive Services) and Medi-Cal. This was my second visit to the office of an elected official in my efforts at advocacy for the disabled community. (Last month I visited with Assemblyman Martin Garrick). I went on the visit with Rachel Vega and Connie Soucy, both from Access to Independence of San Diego. We met with a staff member of his to discuss our concerns. She seemed to be receptive to what we were trying to say. Though I am not a constituent of his, it is important to talk to as many elected officials as possible to let them know how devastating cuts to these programs would be to so many people with disabilities.
Cuts to these programs would make it harder, if not impossible for people with disabilities to continue to live at home and be a part of the community, and many would end up in the nursing home gulag. The nursing home industry would like this. More people would mean more profit for them, but it would do nothing for the quality of life and dignity of people with disabilities.
Though I understand the need for cuts to the California state budget, they can't cut everything. Cuts in programs that allow people with disabilities to be a part of the community would be devastating as well as more expensive to the state in the long run: warehousing people in nursing homes is far more expensive than giving people in-home care and support.
In-home care and support, though it allows people with disabilities to be a part of the community, and is cheaper than nursing homes, has many more benefits. In-home care and support creates thousands of jobs for health care workers and home health care aids; allows people with disabilities to hold jobs; it makes the quality of life and well-being of people with disabilities so much better; people with disabilities spend money in the community, and if they work, they pay taxes in addition to spending money. Also, making it harder for people with disabilities to live in the community would be a violation of the Olmstead Act of 1999, which affirms the right of people with disabilities to live in the community.
Governor Schwazenegger, the State Assembly, and State Senate, would be well-advised to reconsider devastating cuts to IHSS and Medi-Cal. I hope my efforts as a representative of the disabled community to protect it's interests, though small, will have some influence on the politicians in Sacramento.