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Calif. Budget Cuts Concealing Elder Abuse?

A state watchdog group says elder abuse may be underreported, in part because of budget cuts to ombudsman programs.

The California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes says the number of complaints from ombudsmen are down more than 40 percent since budget cuts were enacted last year.

The report's authors fear the decline in reports means abuse is going unreported in the state's elder care facilities.

Last October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut all state funding for the ombudsman program, dropping the budget to $4 million in federal funds for fiscal year 2009, down from $7.9 million the previous year.

In many parts of the state, budget cuts have resulted in staffing cuts, and fewer facilities are being checked for problems.

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