Budget cuts would affect the 'vulnerable'

Los Angeles County supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina this week pushed for a clearer understanding of how state-level budget cuts could impact health and social service programs serving vulnerable county residents.Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his 2010-11 May Budget Revision, which projects an overall $19.1 billion state deficit. "The governor's May Revision does not propose any significant revenue solutions," Ridley-Thomas said. "The package contains program eliminations and major reductions primarily to health and social services programs." Schwarzenegger's budget proposes $12.4 billion in cuts, which would affect various programs serving county residents, including: •CalWORKS program which aids low-income children and their parents •In-Home Supportive Services Program, which aids seniors and persons with disabilities so they can live safely in their homes rather than expensive institutions •Cash Assistance Program which helps elderly and disabled legal immigrants •Mental Health Realignment funds estimated to result in a county loss of $195 million •AB 3632, which provides mental health services to children •Medi-Cal, which provides health coverage to low-income seniors, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, children and their families •Elimination of need-based, subsidized child care and development programs that enable parents to work "The county would face severe shortfalls and gaps in funding for safety net programs, and we must make wise decisions in allocating limited resources to areas of greatest need," Ridley-Thomas said. The county currently provides health and social service programs through a complex combination of direct provision of services by county employees and contracting. In some areas, contracting may be more cost effective, while in others, direct provision of services may be more cost effective. The Board of Supervisors directed its chief executive officer to report back in 30 days with the following information: •A comprehensive list of all county health, mental health and social services currently provided through contractors, which would be impacted by the governor's May Budget Revision •A cost-benefit analysis of bringing the contracted services in-house should the governor's budget be implemented.

********** Published: May 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 5