Governor Cuts Adult Day Care

The Adult Day Health Care program that serves about 37,000 Californians would close under Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest revisions to the proposed state budget, program officials said Monday.

“Sadly, in attempting to balance the state budget, California has gone morally bankrupt,” Lydia Missaelides, executive director of the California Association for Adult Day Services, said in a statement.

Brown, in the May revision of his proposed 2011-12 state budget, allocated $25 million to transfer some of the adult day care services to other agencies, effectively ending the program. No money was included to keep the program running.

Brown is trying to close a projected $9.6-billion state budget deficit and create a $1.2-billion reserve.

California has about 300 adult day health care centers, including about 20 in Orange County that serve an estimated 2,000 people. The program is run with federal and state funds.

The centers provide daytime services for the disabled and elderly while family members are at work or otherwise cannot care for them. Supporters of the program say it is much less expensive than nursing homes and allows family members to hold a job when they otherwise might have to stay home to care for a relative.

But both Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, proposed eliminating the program to help reduce budget deficits. In February, supporters of adult day health care offered the Legislature their own plan to cut some of the costs but keep the program running.

In March, a two-house budget conference committee voted to keep the program alive but cut its $185-million budget in half. That meant only the most seriously ill would continue in the program, but Brown had yet to sign the bill.

“With a $15-billion deficit there are no good choices,” said Missaelides, “but the governor and lawmakers are fooling themselves if they think the state will save money” by eliminating Adult Day Health Care.

She said it was still possible to salvage the core program if the Legislature approves — and Brown signs — a bill by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, a San Fernando Valley Democrat who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee.

That bill would allow the state to seek federal approval for a redesigned program that would be eligible for federal matching dollars.