1. Crandall stated: “The union representing In-Home Supportive Services providers recently produced a report called, ‘At No Cost’...”
Clarification: The report was produced in April and entitled “At No Cost: How Humboldt County Can Use State and Federal Dollars to Lift Home Care Workers out of Poverty and Strengthen the Local Economy.” The proposals included in the report were calculated using savings that all California counties will receive through the Community First Choice Option (a product of the Affordable Care Act) that can be used to invest in community and home-based services and programs. Increased federal moneys, not county funds, were used as the basis for the wage proposals included in the report.
2. Crandall stated: “In county government, shifting funds to one program comes at the expense of another.”
Clarification: The report that Crandall references does not call for a shift in county funding. According to the recently issued 2012 Humboldt County IHSS Fact Finding Report (conveniently not mentioned in Crandall’s article), “The County clearly has the ability to pay (as it has acknowledged) and has even budgeted sufficient funds to cover most, if not all the costs” (Pg. 12, 2012 Humboldt IHSS Fact Finding Report and Recommendation).
3. Crandall stated: “In this case, the cost to the county of increasing IHSS wages and benefits to the level demanded by CUHW, the providers’ union, is estimated to be an additional $590,000 in the first year alone.”
Clarification: The county submitted its own analysis of the costs of increasing IHSS caregiver wages during the recently concluded fact finding hearing. A document provided by the county during the fact finding hearing included the following information: IHSS Provider Wage Comparison Table $8.75/Year 1: County Share (17.5%) = $245,025 (County Exhibit 24 - 1, 2012 Humboldt County IHSS Fact Finding Binder).
4. Crandall stated: “These new costs would be in addition to the county’s new Maintenance of Effort (MOE) of approximately $3 million that was established by state legislation this year to operate the IHSS program.”
Clarification: Crandall doesn’t disclose that the old funding formula referred to as “Share of Cost” for the IHSS program, will be referred to as Maintenance of Effort, under the Coordinated Care Initiative (or, state legislation Crandall references). Humboldt County spent $3,397,361 for their 2011-2012 Share of Cost (17.5% total program costs). Since counties’ MOE’s are based on their 2011-2012 IHSS expenditures in addition to an annual inflation percentage (3.5%) that will be added beginning in 2014, Humboldt County would have to spend at least $3 million moving forward annually on the IHSS program...even without providing a wage increase to IHSS caregivers.
5. Crandall stated: “Ultimately, when all is said and done, the job of the county is to keep our tax dollars here and to make prudent use of this money.”
Clarification: Crandall fails to disclose perhaps some of the most compelling information stated in the Fact Finding Report, “It is estimated that the wage increase of $0.75 per hour would bring almost $2 million in increased consumer spending on local goods and services to the county” (Pg. 12, 2012 Humboldt IHSS Fact Finding Report and Recommendation).
”After attending the (fact finding) hearing I realized a major reason the county board of supervisors had never increased wages for caregivers: County staff responsible with advising the board on IHSS, such as Health and Human Services director Phillip Crandall, opposed any increases. Even after my testimony, Crandall insisted that the IHSS program was working fine within the county. But he’s never had to lay in bed for hours when a caregiver decides he/she can no longer afford to care for him at $8/hour or say goodbye to a nursing student working as his caregiver who has left to take a better paying nursing job with benefits. I became teary-eyed when I learned that the county could afford to increase wages for caregivers and chose not to.” _-Jene McCovey, IHSS recipient and Humboldt County IHSS Advisory Board member.
As a Humboldt County resident, you be the judge. Two impartial parties have now reviewed the homecare crisis in Humboldt County. Both have ruled in favor of raising wages for county caregivers. While fifty-one (51) other counties in California have found a way to raise IHSS caregiver wages above the state minimum level, Humboldt has not. Everyone knows that there is no such thing as “free money.” What everyone doesn’t know is why after nearly two decades of never offering a penny to improve the lives of IHSS caregivers, the submission of over 3,000 petition signatures to increase IHSS caregiver wages, and the county admitting that it could afford to do so, one individual is left with “no answers.”
Loretta Stevens is the executive director for California United Homecare Workers, AFSCME/SEIU Local 4034, 2484 Natomas Park Drive #101, Sacramento, CA 95833.