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To the Editor:

Elderly patients living in long-term care facilities are among California’s most vulnerable citizens. Many of them have no family or friends to visit or advocate for them. For over 30 years, the Long Term Care Ombudsman program has trained nearly a thousand state-certified volunteers who make regular visits to facilities and respond to the concerns of residents and patients in California’s 1,300 nursing homes and over 8,000 assisted living facilities. Because of the Ombudsman program, countless incidents of neglect and elder abuse have been exposed and fragile elders protected.

In 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed $3.8 million in funding for the Ombudsman program, representing half of the program’s budget. These cutbacks greatly compromised the ability of the program to investigate complaints and to monitor the care elders are receiving.

In 2009, the state legislature passed AB 392 restoring part of the cuts on a one-time basis by appropriating $1.6 million from an account holding nursing home fines. Unless the funding is continued, the Ombudsman Program will not be able to continue its work. AB 2555 would sustain ombudsman services by appropriating $1.6 million for fiscal 2010-2011, allowing the service to continue to protect elderly nursing home and assisted living residents.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, the California Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Catholic Charities of California, the Older Women’s League, HICAP Services of Northern California and the California Senior Legislature support the passage of AB 2555.

You can learn more about this issue by visiting the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform at their website: www.canhr.org and if you support continued funding for the program, contact Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro at assemblymember.chesbro@assembly.ca.gov, or call his Eureka office at 707-445-7014. You can contact Governor Schwarzenegger at governor@governor.ca.gov, or phone him at 916-445-2841.

Mary Ella Anderson

Senior Assemblymember

California Senior Legislature

Redway

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