Monday, April 13, 2009

Los Angeles Times alleges huge fraud which isn't there

The lead article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times is an April 13, 2008, article "Fraud infects state in-home care." The article alleges fraud in the In-Home Supportive Services, a California program in which the state pays wages from $8.00-14.66/hour so that elderly and/or disabled can have in-home health care workers and stay in their homes, which is a lot cheaper than a nursing home. Nursing homes cost $7000-20,000/month, so the state paying $400 to home health care worker for an elderly for disabled people is much much cheaper for the state. That's what the state pays my brother's home health care worker--he's alloted ten hours/week or 40 hours/month at $10/hour or $400.

Despite all the allegations of prosecutors "alarmed by the ease with which people are taking advantage of the program," when you look at the figures, the program is budgeted at $5.42 billion. Sen Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), a member of the committee looking at the costs, said at a hearing recently that the state had recovered in prosecutions "one one-thousandth" of the overall spending, Leno says that since 'we seemed to have misplaced $50 billion in the rebuilding, it is an amazing low figure."

At the end of the news report the LA Times does have both prosecutors and a Sacramaento Grand Jury admit that only a small amount of fraud has been uncovered and "only a small number of cases accepted for prosecution" but still they say there's some huge problem for which they have absolutely no proof.

As for my brother, he has had Parkinson's for ten years and needs a walker to walk forthe past couple years. December, 2007, he had pneumonia and was in the hospital. August 6, 2008, he came down to with neuroeplitic trauma, had a temperature of 107.5 and pneumonia again. He's lucky to have survived such a high temperature. Pneumonia regularly kills Parkinson's patients. My brother did survive the pneumonia, and then went to rehab. He returned home and the In-home State Services alloted him a health care worker for ten hours/week. He has someone come in 5 days/week in the middle of the day who helps him with his food and drugs. He has to take numerous drugs 4 x/day like clockwork or he's paralyzed--can't move and can't walk.

Also my brother is often paralyzed a lot in the evening but the in-home worker has gone home. I think he needs more help from the state, and I hope he gets it. I'd like to help him but I spent all 2008 helping him and my mother who broke her hip, and then I got sick for most of November and December. Besides working my job, I have to take care of my health more my doctor told me, and doctor ordered me to exercise 7 days/week to help with the stress of two very ill relatives. i need to see my mother in her board and care, so I can't help my brother that much.

Also, my brother for the last two weeks has changed medications, always difficult for someone on Parkinson's. A friend who was a nurse in a neurological hospital in London told me that in England when Parkinson's patients change medication, they are hospitalized, but not here in the United States. Instead, my brother was paralyzed many days, and calling the overworked doctors who helped him a lot with his medications. My experience is exactly the opposite of the Los Angeles Times article; my brother has a legitimate claim for more help than he gets. Also, he has a 15-year old daughter, so the more he's helped, the more he can be there for his daughter.

I think that the prosecutors should have more evidence of fraud before they make allegations to the press. Also, the Los Angeles Times lacks the evidence for its headline and shouldn't print such headlines on such weak evidence.I don't want already very ill people to suffer more; if the state cuts this great program the ill and disabled will suffer more. Also IHSS saves the state tens of thousands of dollars, and has probably saved the state more than the fraud than was found. So overall the state has saved money through this program paying for in-home help for elderly and disabled people.

No comments: