Our Stories

Cuts Hurt California

Susana Saldana – Merced, CA

My name is Susana Saldana. I live in Merced, CA and I care for my 30-year-old son, Mario, who lives with cerebral palsy.

26 years ago, I quit my job at a printing company to care full-time for my son. Mario needs to be supervised at all times and requires assistance with daily activities such as grooming, preparing meals, laundry, driving him to him to doctors’ appointments.

California’s Medicaid-funded home care program, IHSS, allows me to care for my son so he can live at home with dignity. In a group home, he’d only see four walls. But here at home we take him out and he can enjoy life. To me, these programs have been a lifesaver.

Cuts to Medicaid and IHSS would hurt my son. It would make it harder to pay our bills and put food in the refrigerator. I’d have to find another job and I wouldn’t be here for him. I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage, and we could end up homeless. Physically, mentally and financially; it would affect our whole lives.

I go to Sacramento to talk to legislators every time I can to tell them that we need to protect Obamacare, Medicaid and IHSS. I never regularly went to the doctor until Obamacare because I couldn’t afford it. Cutting these programs would affect people – you’re going to be sick and you won’t be able to go to the doctor.

I’m very concerned about the future. It feels like they don’t care for people with disabilities and seniors. It’s scary.

Susana Saldana is a constituent of Congressman Jim Costa, who voted to protect our health care and Medicaid.


Bonnie Kerlew – Oceanside, CA

My name is Bonnie Kerlew. I am 74 and I care for a 12-year-old boy named Jaime, who I met through my work as a nurse. When Jaime’s parents were unable to keep him in their care, I offered to care for him and am now his legal guardian. We live in Oceanside, CA.

Jaime depends on me and IHSS to get the care he needs. IHSS is the Medicaid-funded home care program here in California. He has tube feeding every four hours, he’s incontinent, and he doesn’t walk. He requires 24/7 care because of his tracheal tube and GT tube. He’s non-verbal, so I’ve had to learn how to read his facial expressions and understand his needs.

Jaime needs IHSS, a program that is funded by Medicaid. If they cut Medicaid, he’d have to be placed in an institution. If he’s institutionalized, who is going to pay for that? If they cut IHSS, he won’t get the quality care he needs. There needs to be some funding to have me here caring for him.

Losing IHSS would hurt both of us and hundreds of thousands of IHSS clients who depend on it for the quality care they need. IHSS and home care is the best choice for Jaime and many people with disabilities like him.

My message to Congress and the White House? Don’t cut Medicaid. Put yourself in our place. If you had a family member or friend who needed care, what would you do?

Bonnie Kerlew is a constituent of Congressman Darrell Issa, who voted to repeal our health care and cut Medicaid by at least $880 million dollars. Read another story from Darrell Issa’s district here.


Amanda Reuther – Encinitas, CA

My name is Amanda Reuther and I am an IHSS home care provider in Encinitas, CA. I care for my 4-year-old daughter Paeyton, who has a rare genetic disorder combined with epilepsy, seizures, Autism and developmental delays.

Paeyton requires a lot of care – she needs assistance with walking and eating, and because of muscular setbacks she uses diapers. With her autism, she has a lot of sensory issues to foods and certain textures or sounds. She’ll throw up, or if anything touches her that she doesn’t like, she’ll want to get it off her right away – so we do a lot of laundry!

I also sit with her at every meal to make sure she chews her food. She has to be watched around everything that is hot and we have to make sure there are extra locks on the doors.

We never know what a day with Paeyton will look like, and before IHSS I never knew what days I’d be able to stay home with her. Now, thanks to California’s Medicaid-funded home care program IHSS, I can work 1-2 days a week and IHSS supplements the rest of my income, allowing me to stay at home with Paeyton and give her the best care possible.

If I couldn’t be there for her, she’d have to be in a facility – tearing our family apart and costing the state even more money. IHSS helps stabilize our lives.

My message to Darrell Issa and the other members of Congress is this: Don’t cut Medicaid, because it funds IHSS. It’s a matter of quality of life for children with disabilities like Paeyton, and for some people it’s the difference between life and death.

Amanda Reuther is a constituent of Congressman Darrell Issa, who voted to repeal our health care and cut Medicaid by at least $880 billion dollars. Read another story from Darrell Issa’s district here.