Economy

Adult daycare center closures would leave Californians with tough choices

The state's red ink has become personal for the Chavarria family of Knights Landing, whose patriarch, Santiago, could easily end up in a nursing home if Medi-Cal funding for his adult day health center gets chopped.

And for Davis resident Wilean Ruff. She worries that without being able to send her husband, Jerry, to adult day health, she'll have to quit her job two years shy of full retirement, a move that would affect her finances for the rest of her life.

At issue are looming cuts to the Medi-Cal program, which have put California's 327 licensed adult day health centers in danger. By March 1, in an effort to cut $134 million from the budget, the governor has proposed eliminating the Medi-Cal reimbursement to adult day health providers. Most of those programs would close as a result.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has recommended that the state Legislature adopt the proposal, even though doing so would lead to some adult day health clients enrolling instead in the embattled In-Home Supportive Services program.

Advocates have denounced the proposal as a budgetary shell game, and disability rights groups filed suit last fall over previous attempts to tighten adult day health eligibility requirements and limit services to three days a week.

"You can see why our beneficiaries are anxious and confused and scared," said Lydia Missaelides, California Association for Adult Day Services executive director. "Either an individual could lose their services or the whole program could be eliminated."

At 89, Santiago Chavarria suffers from more than a half-dozen maladies, including Alz- heimer's and severe coronary artery disease. The former farmworker, who lives with his son and daughter-in-law in rural Yolo County, spends weekdays at what he calls "school," the Yolo Adult Day Health Center in Woodland.

The center provides skilled nursing services – among them, medication management, wound care and ongoing medical treatment – as well as physical and speech therapy for 84 frail and elderly Yolo County clients dealing with chronic, debilitating health issues.

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