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OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Governor Ronald Reagan today issued the following statement:
"In an effort to curb costly abuses in the attendant care program for the elderly and physically handicapped we proposed a regulation change.
"At no time did we propose cancellation of the program; indeed we called for maintaining it at virtually the level of the past year. At the same time it was made perfectly clear we were aiming only at abuses and that no needy person would have to leave his or her home and enter an institution because of the proposed changes. We sought only the elimination of unnecessary services and no handicapped person was to be denied essential care.
"An emergency clause was invoked to make the changed regulation apply immediately. Those entrusted with carrying out this program, however, have deliberately violated the intent of the regulation and have moved almost immediately to cut off essential services to those most in need; at the same time they made no effort to cooperate in eliminating fraud and extravagance. In a shocking display of callous inhumanity, some of those entrusted with administering the care of the handicapped moved immediately to reduce or eliminate services to the most helpless. This is a clear subversion of our intent and can only be interpreted as an attempt to sabotage our efforts toward responsible administration of the program. Apparently the regulation was worded in such a way they could claim they were adhering to the letter while they violated the spirit. To the handicapped who have been terrorized, I say now you will not lose the attendant care you require.
"I will not join them in cruelly using these helpless people as pawns. I am therefore rescinding the emergency implementation of this regulation. I am not wavering in my determination to carry out administrative changes that will establish some ratio of fairness between the needs of welfare and the burden borne by the taxpayer.
"We will go to work immediately to determine the exact need in the attendant care program and the extent of abuse and we will find an approach which cannot be sabotaged by arrogant social workers who seem determined to use the poor as basis for creating a bureaucratic empire. One plan we are considering is the use of audit teams and a statewide appeals system so those dependent on us for care can notify us if welfare workers harass them and deprive them of the care they need.
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"The people of California have been most generous in their support of all forms of welfare. This state is No. 1 in the nation in its grants to the aged and handicapped. We are also No. 1 in the overhead costs of distributing this welfare. The people deserve better than the self-serving exhibition we have just witnessed.
The plain truth is that we are fast approaching a point where our ability to help those most in need will be handicapped because our resources have been wasted on some who are fully employed but who take advantage of legal loopholes to augment their earnings at the taxpayers' expense.
"We ask the help of the people in our efforts to bring reason and responsibility to the entire welfare system. County supervisors and legislators need the people's support as they face the carefully organized, shrill attacks of special interest groups who are determined to prevent any interference with their use of the needy to further their own purposes."