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California Social Services Using New Cameras In Attempt To Eliminate IHSS Fraud

Audio

Aired 3/29/10

The California Department of Social Services is trying out military-style cameras to make sure the elderly and disabled who receive in-home care aren't committing fraud.

The California Department of Social Services is trying out military-style cameras to make sure the elderly and disabled who receive in-home care aren't committing fraud.

This week, the state is starting a pilot program in Sacramento and San Diego counties using MorphoTrak cameras. The cameras cost $5,000 each and have been used in Iraq. The state is borrowing the devices -- for now -- to fingerprint and take pictures of the 430,000 seniors and disabled people and their caregivers in the In-Home Supportive Services program.

Lizelda Lopez is with the Department of Social Services.

"These devices are intended to be used to establish identity for individuals so we can prevent duplicate aid," said Lopez.

But advocates for the disabled say the devices will do nothing to ferret out the kind of fraud the state claims is rampant: caregivers overstating hours worked and the disabled exaggerating their condition.

Comments

Avatar image for user 'LeeCollins'

LeeCollins | March 29, 2010 at 8:46 a.m. ― 4 years ago

This is yet another misstep, as the anti-IHSS bureaucracy grows larger even as resources dwindle. There is nothing in statute that authorizes the State or County staff to snap photos of elderly and disabled beneficiaries of the IHSS program. Some program participants are extremely self-conscious of their appearance as a result of disfiguring injuries or debilitating disease; others may be at a stage of dementia that the idea of having their photo taken will seem menacing.

And to what end? Others already have noted that "duplicate identity" has not been identified as an issue that contributes to fraudulent expenditure. And it must be noted that IHSS beneficiaries and providers have offered their assistance to the State--they want to help root out any fraud that there is so that they no longer are cast in this horribly negative light--but the State has refused to permit them to join the planning team, sending the clear message that they cannot be trusted.

Each stepping stone in this story increases the shame and blame, a horrendous and undeserved assault on the low-income, disabled residents of our communities. It is fraud at the highest level when powerful institutions including the Governor and the State Departments of Social Services and Health Care Services inflate statistics and demonize the most vulnerable population of disabled people and their low-paid providers of care.

If those of us who are able and strong do not speak up on their behalf, then we must share the shame, and the blame.

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