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More on the Stark Threat to Our Community

Posted Feb 09 2011 1:07pm

Below is an action alert from The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California. There is another hearing to discuss budget cuts for services for the disabled in California. That meeting is tomorrow. Now is a good time to act. Call. If you can, attend the hearing.

If you don’t know who to call, the Arc and UCP make it easy to find out:

If you don’t know who your state senator and assembly member are, they probably don’t know who you are, either, and it’s time for you—and them—to find out. Go to: http://capwiz.com/thearc/state/main/?state=CA&view=myofficials , enter your ZIP code, click on “Go,” scroll down to “My Elected Officials,” and click on “State Senators” and then again on “State Representatives.”

This is local to California, but there are likely similar decisions being made in your country, your state. Find out how to act.

More on the Stark Threat to Our Community
Action Alert from
The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California

Dear Friends,

The stark threat to the existence of the Lanterman Act system of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities is becoming clearer.

I hope you’re planning on coming to Sacramento tomorrow (Thursday) to tell the Legislature that Governor Brown’s proposed cut to our system is just too big. And I hope that you plan to call your local state senator and assembly member today with the same message, if you haven’t called them yet.

If those are your plans, here’s some information that might help you decide what to say to them. If not, I hope this information will convince you to at least make the calls today.

Our friends at Keeping the Lanterman Promise have posted some simple figures showing examples of what the governor’s proposed $750 million cut would have to mean to real services. They helped me wrap my mind around how crushing the cuts would have to be to reach that total. Here they are: http://keepingthelantermanpromise.net/inform/governor-browns-2011-budget-proposal-what-every-family-member-needs-to-know

And just in case anyone thinks we’re just being alarmist, look at the Brown administration’s own proposed bill spelling out how they want to make a lot of these cuts: http://www.dds.ca.gov/Budget/Docs/201112_620RCPOSStandards.pdf

The first time you read it, you can skip the soothing words in the paragraph that begins “(a).” After you read on and see what the bill would really do, you can reach your own conclusion about whether the Lanterman Act would still exist in anything other than name.

When you get down to “(b),” you’ll see that the Brown administration wants the Legislature to commit itself to “standards” that limit “the type, scope, amount, duration, location, and intensity of services and support purchased by regional centers for consumers and their families.” The “standards” could even “prohibit the purchase of specified services”—whether the consumer needs them or not.

These arbitrary “standards” would turn the Lanterman Act on its head, taking the decision-making away from the people with disabilities, their families, and the rest of their IPP/IFSP teams.

So, if you can, please come to Sacramento tomorrow to tell the Senate budget subcommittee what you think of these cuts. We need to fill not just the room but the Capitol building, like we did for the Assembly hearing last week. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. or later in Room 4203. The Assembly budget subcommittee, which held last week’s hearing, may be voting on the cuts later in the morning across the hall in Room 4202.

And whether or not you can come to Sacramento, please call your local state senator and assembly member today. Tell them your address, why you care, and what you think about these cuts. Call their Sacramento offices unless you already know someone in one of their local offices. And whoever you talk to, save their names so you know who to call next time. Please believe me, there will be a next time.

If you don’t know who your state senator and assembly member are, they probably don’t know who you are, either, and it’s time for you—and them—to find out. Go to: http://capwiz.com/thearc/state/main/?state=CA&view=myofficials , enter your ZIP code, click on “Go,” scroll down to “My Elected Officials,” and click on “State Senators” and then again on “State Representatives.”

And finally, when you testify to the subcommittee or talk to your legislators’ staff, be sure to mention that you’re a registered voter—if you are. If you’re not, it’s time to register. Go to: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm

Thank you for your advocacy.

Greg

P.S. Your probably noticed a new banner at the top of this Action Alert. That’s because United Cerebral Palsy and The Arc have joined forces to strengthen our community’s voice in California public policy struggles. Just in time, don’t you think?

Greg deGiere
Public Policy Director
The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California
1225 Eighth Street, Suite 350
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 552-6619×16

  1. Roger Kulp:
    New Mexico,like a lot of other states,has been been cutting services to the developmentally disabled.This comes from an article from last year,hidden by a subscrption wall,but readable through a Google cache http://tinyurl.com/5wz5weu SANTA FE — New Mexico's Department of Health, citing budget problems, will cut $9 million in Medicaid spending for people with developmental disabilities — a program with a waiting list of thousands. The more than 4,000 New Mexicans who currently participate in the developmental disabilities waiver program will have to "reprioritize" how they spend their annual allocations for therapy and other medical services, the department said. "We would like nothing more than to provide care to all the New Mexicans who need it, but we must balance our desire to serve more individuals with fiscal realities," Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil said Wednesday. About 4,700 people are currently on the department's waiting list to receive funding from the program and won't be removed from the waiting list despite the spending cuts. The cuts announced Wednesday, which will start immediately, will include a 2 percent funding cut for nonresidential services such as therapies, skill building and care during the day. Other changes are: Families or caregivers paid to provide services will be able to receive up to 1,000 hours of relief from care giving per year, down from the current maximum of 1,750 hours per year. Providers will get paid based on an individual's needs rather than a set amount. Stricter criteria will be in place for extra services for those with high-risk medical or behavioral needs. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings,D-Roswell,a longtime supporter of the program, said he understands the state's bleak fiscal situation but said individuals with developmental disabilities repeatedly have come up on the short end of the stick in recent years. "They've been in the same position for years, and this administration hasn't really increased their services," Jennings said, referring to the Gov. Bill Richardson administration, which includes the Health Department. "It's disturbing because most of this money is a three-to-one (federal) match." For every $1 the state spends on the program,the federal government pays an additional $3. The Department of Health said the cuts became necessary because of rising costs to operate the program and ongoing state budget deficits. The average cost per client has increased from $67,000 annually in 2006 to a projected figure of slightly more than $75,000 in 2011. The total cost of the developmental disabilities waiver program — including state and federal funding — has gone up from $252 million in 2006 to an estimated $307 million in 2011, according to the Health Department. The state portion of that would be $79 million. One reason for the ballooning costs is that some program recipients have received more expensive care than needed, Vigil said. More changes — and possibly more cuts — will be made during the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. "While we are developing long-term solutions for the program, we have to take these cost-saving steps now to protect the program and the people who rely on these services," Vigil said. While department officials said medical care providers and other groups were consulted before the spending cuts were approved, others voiced concern about the impact of the policy changes. Peter Cubra, an Albuquerque attorney who works as an advocate for the developmentally disabled, said the state should look for ways around cuts to the program. "Cuts to services to people with severe disabilities create dangers that could actually jeopardize the life and health of people," Cubra said. "So it is unfortunate that cuts have been implemented. In my view, the services should not be reduced and, instead, the administration should increase revenues to protect New Mexico's most vulnerable citizens." Maureen Sanders, an attorney for the advocacy group for the developmentally disabled, The Arc of New Mexico, said cuts would be problematic for people in the program. "While I have not had an opportunity to look at the specifics, the approach at first blush seems to try to address the budget crisis at the expense of some of our most vulnerable individuals in the community," Sanders said. Most of the funding for the development disabilities waiver program comes from the federal government, but is administered and augmented by the state. State lawmakers appropriated nearly $10 million last year to move more than 200 people off the waiting list, but the money wasn't sufficient to achieve the goal, Health Department spokeswoman Deborah Busmeyer said. Read more: ABQJOURNAL NEWS/STATE: State Trims Disability Program Privacy Policy & Copyright © 1997 - 2011 Albuquerque Journal: Albuquerque, New Mexico/ The state Department of Health hopes to sign a $524,000 contract for a pilot project that officials say could lead to a more accurate diagnoses of people enrolled in a small, but costly program for the mentally disabled. Over the next six months, if the contract is signed, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will use a diagnostic tool it developed to discern the level of care needed for 500 individuals enrolled in what is known as the developmental disabilities waiver program, or DD waiver, for short. Click to learn more... The tool also is known as the Supports Intensity Scale, state officials said. Currently, more than 3,600 residents are enrolled in the program and have a range of developmental disabilities. Nearly 5,000 residents are on the waiting list because there isn't enough funding for additional services. The program itself experiences little turnover each year, with fewer than 50 individuals leaving a year, according to the state. “The tool the state uses now (to assess clients' level of care) is more than a decade old and not as sophisticated,” said Cathy Stevenson, deputy director of the New Mexico Health Department's Development Disabilities Division. "I am very concerned," said Beverly LeRouge, whose 21-year-old daughter is enrolled in the program and worries about how the new tool might affect her life. http://www.cibolabeacon.com/articles/2011/02/08/news/doc4d5087d555c2b197143697.txt See also http://www.health.state.nm.us/DDSD/resourcesupportbureaupublications/DDW/DDWaiverRenewalUpdate.htm
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