Congresswoman Blasts California’s “Insufficient” Investment in Disability Services
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (D-CA) issued a sharp rebuke yesterday to California’s health department over what she called “woefully inadequate” state funding for disability services and support.
Barragán’s statement came in response to California gaining federal approval to modestly expand access over four years to its Medicaid Home and Community Based Alternatives (HCBA) program. The program allows people with significant disabilities to receive essential care at home rather than be institutionalized.
The Congresswoman, alongside the head of Disability Rights California, slammed the expansion as far too minor, saying it “is not sufficient to address the need.” She pointed to state data showing nearly 4,000 vulnerable residents stuck on waitlists, with approved capacity increases unlikely to eliminate backlogs until 2026.
“This trickle of new slots is unacceptable,” said Rep. Barragán. “Children, seniors, and adults with disabilities are being denied their independence and forced into facilities against their will because California refuses to invest real money in HCBA services…The Governor must step up with the state funds needed to completely eliminate waitlists now and help Californians live at home with dignity.”
Access to HCBA is often the only pathway for medically fragile groups – from children to Alzheimer’s patients – to receive essential care while remaining in their communities instead of institutions. Advocates argue California chronically underfunds these services compared to the actual need, leaving thousands stranded on years-long waitlists.
Barragán and 23 other Congressional representatives pressed Governor Newsom in November to dedicate more state dollars to HCBA services. The approved expansion relies solely on federal Medicaid support. Disability leaders say significantly increased state investment is crucial to providing comprehensive home-based care options.