Aug 29, 2010

Judge Rules Felons, Sex Offenders Can Be Caregivers In California

+Alzheimer's Reading Room

A judge has halted new restrictions that would keep convicted felons and convicted sex offenders from providing in-home care to elderly and disabled patients participating in a California state program.

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Alameda County Superior Court Judge David Hunter said Tuesday that the limits sought by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would cause irreparable harm, and both caregivers and their patients would suffer.

Schwarzenegger is seeking to exclude anyone ever convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, including shoplifting, from working as caregivers in the In-Home Supportive Services program that serves 430,000 low-income elderly and disabled Californians.

The restrictions were intended to take effect this week.

People convicted of child abuse, elder abuse or defrauding Medi-Cal or any patient already aren't allowed to work in the program for 10 years, according to state law.

A group of in-home workers filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the new limits, saying Schwarzenegger's plan would mean some patients couldn't have the caregiver they wanted — such as family or friends who had past convictions. They also said more patients could end up in nursing homes as a result of the plan.

Hunter ruled in favor of the caregivers in February, saying that Schwarzenegger's effort was illegal, and the governor appealed in May.

Hunter's decision Tuesday keeps his ruling in tact while the appeal goes through the courts.

Lizelda Lopez, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services, said the decision forces the state to approve sex offenders and other convicted criminals to care for the elderly and disabled. The governor would pursue his appeal and seek changes to state law, if necessary, she said.

More stringent scrutiny of caregivers in the IHSS program was among Schwarzenegger's demands in last year's state budget deal. He pledged to eliminate "waste, fraud and abuse" that he claims is rampant in the system.

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,810 articles with more than 89,500 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content +Bob DeMarco , the Alzheimer's Reading Room