One Agency, One County, One Big Waste of Money

By Jeff Mitchell

The question comes up all the time: “How did California and the federal government get so deep in debt?” Pensions are one of the problems, but a look at some of the public agencies shows what happens when government gets too big and cannot regulate itself. The San Diego County Grand Jury has released its investigative report regarding just one of those agencies, the In-Home Supportive Services program, and there are several areas of concern for local taxpayers. The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a state and federally-mandated entitlement program, funded by federal, state and local taxes. It is intended to provide “non-medical services” to low-income aged, blind and disabled individuals so they may remain safely in their home and avoid out-of-home placement, such as a nursing home. Here are some of the facts and findings the Grand Jury discovered:

Approximately 25,000 San Diego County residents receive IHSS services from 22,000 caregivers who assist them with domestic and personal use. The cost for this? The County contributed $53 million or 17.5% of the $305 million, while the state and feds contributed the rest. The majority of the caregivers are family members (67%) and the consumer is responsible for hiring, supervising, firing and signing the time cards. See any problem with this?

IHSS caseworkers are prohibited by law from verifying services and validating hours worked by caregivers. In fact, a consumer could unknowingly hire a convicted felon as a caregiver who is paid by your tax dollars because regulations (and restraining orders) prohibit the county from providing information discovered in required background checks.

Costs have more than doubled in the past 10 years and only about 20% of those receiving services are actually considered severely impaired and unable to care for themselves. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that, with 58 counties in the state and hundreds of special programs like the IHSS that are inefficient and subject to fraud and abuse, there needs to be dramatic change in regulations and funding and it needs to happen now.

— Jeff Mitchell

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