Monday, April 11, 2011

Government IS NOT a Business: Budget Cuts Kill Disabled Humans

Links and 100% outrage to follow. All y'all feeling sorry for your own damn selves, watch the damn video at Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and count your blessings.

For if developmentally disabled humans can organize, so can we all.

[On April 1, Scott issued an executive order slashing reimbursement rates paid to the caregivers of adults with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, autism and many other disabling conditions. Less than 24 hours later, the cuts went into effect, leaving everyone in the field stunned by the preemptive strike.

On Tuesday, four days after Scott's actions became law, the room at ARC was filled with people in wheelchairs, waving handmade signs with slogans like "No money, no staff. Where do I go?" and "Rick Scott; Murderer of the Disabled," and most of all, "What about US?"

What about them indeed.

Scott said he was responding to a long-standing multimillion-dollar deficit at the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). The agency has been running a shockingly high deficit for years. Scott's stop-gap solution (for the final three months of the current fiscal year) was to cut the amount the state pays for caregivers, ARC and other private agencies. Certainly something needed to be done, but did it need to be so heartless?...

Scott has touted himself as the "Jobs Governor {sic}." He's pledged to create 700,000 new jobs in Florida. Yet this knee-jerk reaction to budget cutting is being borne on the backs of those least able to help themselves. Scott's signature could actually send unemployment statistics up rather than down.

Teresa Wyres, owner for 13 years of Personal Independence Network, a private home care agency that covers five counties from Palm Beach to Indian River that employs 50 caregivers, said she will have to lay off at least two office staff because of the cuts, and there could be more once she learns more details about the new reimbursement rates.] emphasis added

Picture of Tor Lind by Mark Randall, Sun Sentinel / March 31, 2011

[Two tables away from Manken, Tor Lind stuffs papers into clear plastic envelopes for a car-rental company. He has Down syndrome, with poor eyesight and slurred speech, but he made his desires very clear.

I'd like to stay here. That's all I want," Lind says. If not? "Sad. Not good."

Lind, 49, lives with his mother, Margaret, who is 93. She says they could get by without his pay. But the center staff said she could not take care of him if he were home all day. Also, without him to help with chores, she probably couldn't continue living on her own. They prop each other up.

If both went to institutions, Medicaid would pay $124,000 a year, compared with $5,000 the state pays the center and $25,000 to other agencies for his care, said center Chief Executive Tina Philips.

The Hab Center is not alone. The proposed cuts would eliminate $750,000 of the $15 million budget at the Ann Storck Center outside Fort Lauderdale. CEO Charlotte Mather-Taylor said she would be forced to lay off employees and possibly end programs for those among the 700 clients who don't live at the center...

Outpatient psychiatric programs stand to lose more than half of their budgets. Archways in Fort Lauderdale may have to close its group homes for 64 people or just shut down, said CEO Andrea Katz.

Some of the patients who lost services would wind up in jail, in mental hospitals or on the streets, said Steven Ronik, CEO at a major program, Henderson Mental Health Center.

Said Silverman: "This will bring us back into the dark ages."] emphasis added

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