Big Budget Win in California: Vital Programs Preserved

Enormous Win: Advocates Beat Back Cuts to Programs for Low-Income Older Adults

Governor Newsom and the California Legislature announced yesterday that they have come to a budget agreement that will preserve the vital programs low-income older adults rely on for their health and safety. This final budget agreement preserves the critical programs that will help those most at risk from the pandemic—older Black, Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders—access health care services they need. We thank the Governor and Legislature for preserving programs that help people access services at home and in the community so that at-risk older adults are not forced to seek care in nursing facilities, which are particularly dangerous during the pandemic.

Programs Preserved 

  • Home and Community-Based Services. The budget preserves Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS), the Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). Maintaining these programs reduces the need for older adults to seek care in nursing homes or other congregate settings in which over fifty percent of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred.
  • Medi-Cal Coverage and Benefits. The budget preserves Medi-Cal coverage for seniors and people with disabilities with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; maintains current Medi-Cal estate recovery rules; and preserves current dental and other critical Medi-Cal benefits. Unfortunately, however, the final agreement does not extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented seniors, leaving thousands who are at most risk during this pandemic without access to health care.
  • SSI/SSP. The budget maintains current SSI/SSP benefit levels.
  • Other Senior Programs. The budget preserves senior nutrition, caregiver resource centers, long-term care ombudsman, aging and disability resource centers, and Independent Living Centers.

While this budget agreement preserves existing programs older Californians need, without increased revenues, cuts still loom and racial inequities remain unaddressed. Justice in Aging will continue to advocate both federally and at the state level for additional revenue to ensure cuts are not made in the future and that investments are made at the state level to address the racial disparities in our institutions and programs. Today, however, we celebrate California’s preservation of existing support programs for older adults.

Katrina Cohens

About Katrina Cohens

Katrina Cohens is based in Justice in Aging’s Washington, DC office and serves as the Database Manager.