According to Elder Law attorney Gene L. Osofsky, of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky, the fear factor is high among Californians that many of our Elders in nursing homes may be directly impacted by Medi-Cal budget cuts. While this isn’t true, for Elders not living in nursing homes the story might play out quite differently.
July 28, 2009, was the day when embattled California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the new budget into law. “Like most states, California has been greatly affected by the serious recession that began in late 2007,” says Elder Law attorney Gene L. Osofsky of the law firm Osofsky & Osofsky, “and budget cuts to programs serving our Elders have not been immune.” Consequently, fears from Osofsky’s clients and colleagues about how residents of California nursing homes might fare in Governor Schwarzenegger’s controversial budget have fueled rampant speculation. Many California nursing home residents rely significantly if not primarily upon Medi-Cal to help pay for their care. But there is good news to be found. “Residents of California nursing homes won’t have their Medi-Cal subsidies for ancillary services such as dental and podiatric care directly affected,” explains Osofsky, “Although the budget cuts made to close the $26 billion gap will have a tremendous effect upon Medi-Cal programs for persons not residing in nursing homes, upon child welfare programs, AIDS prevention, adult day care, and low cost health insurance for low income children.”
Specifically, Medi-Cal funding to skilled nursing facilities has been penciled in at $96.4 million in the Governor’s budget, but a raft of caveats have been included in the budget as a whole. “There will be a reduction of $60.5 million in Medi-Cal county administration, and also a reduction of $47.9 million in the funding for private hospitals,” Osofsky says, “as well as limiting services to a maximum of three days per weeks – at a savings of $28.1 million – for adult day health care.”
These austerity measures are likely to adversely affect many Californians who may be Elders both directly and indirectly, depending upon their circumstances. “A few years from now, the ripples from these recession-beating budgetary maneuvers may prove more far-reaching than anyone first anticipated,” Osofsky concludes.