Program to help frail California seniors on chopping block

A program that helps frail seniors stay out of nursing homes is on Gov. Jerry Brown's chopping block.

Brown's plan would cut $20 million from the state budget by eliminating the Multipurpose Senior Services Program, which helps the state avoid the expense of caring for the elderly in nursing homes.

In Stanislaus County, about 180 low-income seniors are able to continue living safely at home through the MSSP program, said Stephanie Navarette, site director for the county program.

Without the assistance, 30 percent to 40 percent of the clients would require almost immediate placement in a nursing home, she said. Most of the seniors are in their 80s; a few are 100.

"If it was totally eliminated, there are not a lot of options for these people," Navarette said.

According to the state guidelines, the seniors approved for the program must be frail enough to qualify for skilled nursing care. The county must demonstrate that the services provided at home are less costly than nursing-home charges.

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