San Diego County residents are paying a high price for a state and federally mandated in-home service program that is inefficient and an easy target for abuse and fraud, according to a county grand jury report released Tuesday.
The purposed of the In-Home Supportive Services program is to provide non-medical services -- domestic and personal care services -- to low-income, blind and disabled people so they can remain safely in their homes rather than being placed in a nursing home or similar facility.
According to the grand jury, the program is a good idea in principle, but riddled with flaws in its implementation.
The grand jury said that among the program's problems, county officials are prohibited from making unannounced home visits to check on a participant's continuing need for services or validating that the hours on a caregiver's time card were actually worked.
Other problems include the fact that it is legal for a convicted felon to serve as a caregiver in the program, and only about 20 percent of those receiving IHSS benefits are actually considered severely impaired and unable to care for themselves, according to the grand jury report.
According to the grand jury, efforts to reform the program have been met with little success.
Last year, San Diego County contributed about $53 million of the $300 million total price tag for local residents, with the remainder coming from state and federal coffers.
The cost of the program in California last year was $5.5 billion, and growing at an unsustainable rate, according to the grand jury.
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