Advocates for 35,000 poor and disabled adults reached a federal court settlement Thursday with California officials to keep a revised version of the state’s Adult Day Health Care program running.

The Medi-Cal funded program was scheduled to be cut on Dec. 1 and is one of the most visible casualties of the state’s ongoing financial crisis.

“We’re very, very relieved and happy,” said Elissa Gershon, senior attorney for Disability Rights California, which filed the federal suit two years ago. The 50-page settlement still must be approved by the court.

State officials expect that the new program, which would be called Community-Based Adult Services, would serve half the people of the current program. No immediate estimate is available for the number of Medi-Cal recipients who would be eligible for the new program, said Gershon.

“We really don’t know” the number, she said. Current users would be medically assessed before the new program begins in February. The settlement agreement assures a “seamless” transition for those who qualify for the new program.

The approximately 270 Adult Day Health Care centers around the state would require recertification before participating in the new program.

Without adult day care, people with serious physical disabilities or conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, which prevent them from caring for themselves, run the risk of having to move into more expensive nursing homes or hospitals.

The suit was filed two years ago when California first tried to eliminate the program. The court issued preliminary injunctions in 2009 and 2010 to temporarily block the cuts, and a hearing had been scheduled for later Thursday on the cut planned for this year.

Participants in the new program would be required to enroll in managed care programs in areas where they are available, said Gershon.

More settlement details will be available after approval by the court and in February, when participants would enter the new program.


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