Balanced budget shouldnt come at expense of senior care

Forget about banks that are too big to fail. Here in the Bay Area Jewish community, we have institutions that are too important to fail. At or near the top of that list is the Jewish Home of San Francisco.

Through no fault of its own, the Jewish Home currently faces the most severe fiscal crisis in its 142-year history. Draconian Medi-Cal cuts passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown may soon go into effect. Should that happen, the Jewish Home, which depends greatly on Medi-Cal reimbursements, would suffer a multi-million-dollar blow.

All told, in a worst-case scenario, the total could top $31 million in cuts and other liabilities, a figure that would clearly threaten the survival of the Jewish Home.

Our cover story this week describes the impact these cuts will have on skilled nursing facilities such as the Jewish Home. Of greatest concern is the sheer magnitude of the budget slashing. Headlines describe it as a 10 percent cut, but in truth the damage goes much deeper.

First, the state will roll back Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to 2008 levels, and then cut 10 percent of that. This amounts to as much as a 30 percent actual cut, a number that will have a dramatic effect on how California cares for its frail elderly.

And while our story focuses on skilled nursing homes, the Medi-Cal cuts slash nearly $1.5 billion from the budget, hitting more than 7 million Californians who depend on Medi-Cal.

The changes include steep hikes in emergency room, doctor and dentist co-pays, elimination of Medi-Cal coverage for over-the-counter drugs, reduced coverage for hearing aids and increases in premiums for the Healthy Families program for children.

And then there are the state budget cuts to Adult Day Health Care programs, the sort of which are managed so ably by Jewish Family and Children’s Services offices in the Bay Area. We have been covering this ongoing travesty for the last two years, and the situation only seems to worsen.

It comes down to this: What kind of state do we want to live in? Will we continue to worship at the altar of a balanced state budget so that we end up throwing our most vulnerable citizens — children, the poor, the frail elderly — on the scrap heap of society?

This is un-American. This is un-Jewish. This is inhuman, and we as Californians must rise up in righteous anger and tell our

lawmakers “No.” Let us all join with the Jewish Home and tell Sacramento we will not balance the budget on the backs of our grandmothers and grandfathers.