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Archive for Friday, February 12, 2010

`Mind-boggling’ state budget cuts devastating Kansans with disabilities, advocates say

A disability rights group is urging legislators to restore a 10% cut to Medicaid. Some say it will be as much as six times more costly to prolong restoration.

February 12, 2010, 10:02 a.m. Updated February 12, 2010, 3:56 p.m.

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— Kansans with disabilities on Friday pleaded with lawmakers to restore cuts in Medicaid funding that have ended some services and threaten to eliminate more.

“Any more cuts, and I may have to go into a nursing home,” said Terry Walter of Topeka. Walter has diabetes, congestive heart disease and uses a wheelchair.

 Daniel Perez of Wichita talks about care services his son, Daniel, 18, who is autistic, is losing under recent Medicaid budget cuts. The Big Tent Coalition called for restoration of the 10 percent budget cut. At a news conference Friday in the Capitol, several people said the lost services will result in more people being placed in more expensive nursing home care.

Daniel Perez of Wichita talks about care services his son, Daniel, 18, who is autistic, is losing under recent Medicaid budget cuts. The Big Tent Coalition called for restoration of the 10 percent budget cut. At a news conference Friday in the Capitol, several people said the lost services will result in more people being placed in more expensive nursing home care.

Because of dwindling tax losses, Gov. Mark Parkinson cut Medicaid by 10 percent or $22.7 million. The cut has been especially harmful because it means the loss of an additional federal matching funds.

“It’s just mind-boggling that we would cut those services only to force people into institutions which are going to cost taxpayers more dollars,” said Rocky Nichols, executive director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas.

He said policymakers don’t understand that the cuts “are real and are devastating people’s lives, and without restoring those cuts, it’s only going to get worse.”

At a news conference, several people caring for those with disabilities spoke about the need to restore funding.

Margaret Landry, a caregiver from Lawrence, said that because of the cuts, the 3-year-old boy she takes care of, Max, will be unable to get a new wheelchair when he grows out of the one he is in now.

Daniel Perez of Wichita said the cuts have forced him to lose respite and dental care for his autistic son, Daniel, 18.

And Kathleen Payne of Berryton said the cuts have reduced the wages for the caregiver of her 36-year-old daughter, Robin, who is severely disabled.

Without Robin’s caregiver, Payne said she would not be able to hold down a job and keep her daughter at home.

Key legislators said they hoped to restore the funding for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We’re extremely sensitive to that situation and the people who are suffering as a result of our need to balance the budget,” said state Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood. “It’s not like we are just cold and hard and uncaring. We will continue to look toward solutions,” he said.

Gov. Mark Parkinson and the Legislature have cut $1 billion from the $6.4 billion state budget because of an historic drop in revenue. The Legislature still faces a $400 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

Parkinson has called for a tax increase to restore the Medicaid cuts and avoid further cuts in other areas. Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said he is open to the idea of a tax increase, but House Republican leaders have been adamantly opposed.

Comments

Shane Garrett 4 years, 10 months ago

What was that term "they" were trying to pass off a few years ago? Something about being a compassionate Republican? What a load of bovine waste.

absolutelyridiculous 4 years, 10 months ago

Big picture: the poorest, who can not care for themselves are taking it the hardest, meanwhile high school athletes play on professional level fields in our town. It all flows through the same funnel, yet is distributed so unequally.

The blessing in all this? We are being forced to look at our priorities and what we value most. People or play.

I can't wait to see how this works out.

RibMan 4 years, 10 months ago

The proposed decrease in tax deductions for charity is sickening. There is money to take care of those in need. Instead, our tax money is wasted. This is infuriating and cruel.

tomatogrower 4 years, 10 months ago

Where are all the conservatives who will just tell you that if only those people with disabilities had planned better they wouldn't have any problems. Never mind they might have been born disabled. I really think conservatives would rather disabled people would just wander off and die, then they wouldn't have to see them. I can always count on the conservatives I know to point out and make derogatory remarks about people who are disabled.

absolutelyridiculous 4 years, 10 months ago

tomatogrower...this conservative is happy we have the poor and disabled...keeps us grounded and keeps our priorities in line.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

Hey, but the legislature is willing to pay for their marriage licenses! What more do they want?

sarcasm

PosseComitatus 4 years, 10 months ago

Political games being played here people. The state government budget is inflated (mainly due to the riding of the real estate bubble) and to counteract what needs to be done, spending less money, each agency chooses to cut "popular" programs to get the people to lobby for tax increases... Hold the administrating agencies responsible.

avoice 4 years, 10 months ago

If a lot of people who are not truly disabled would quit trying to milk the system, more funding would be available to fully meet the needs of those who truly need the assistance.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

avoice,

Following your logic, if the folks who don't pay taxes would quit sending their kids to public schools, our society would be better off. I think we can all agree that would not be the case.

Punishing people who truly need assistance for the bad behavior of some is hardly responsible or moral.

think_about_it 4 years, 10 months ago

Sorry kids but sometimes the adults have to make the hard decisions.

Sure it would be great if every single person that was disabled had a full-time caregiver provided at no cost to them. Unfortunately the line has to be drawn somewhere. We have no more money to give. Tapped out. Perhaps a nursing home is the logical choice when you are living off of others forced charity.

Exactly what percent of our income would be enough to support all of your needs and wants? 80%? 90%?

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

think_about_it,

In response to your question, enough to be able to call ours a compassionate, humane society, that values human dignity. In other words, a society that doesn't cast our fellow citizens aside like garbage when they require some extra help to be included in society.

Genetic disabilities aside, any one of us could suffer an injury or medical incident that renders us "disabled", as could any member of our family. Obviously, I can't speak for you, however I think most people would want to be treated humanely and with dignity, and they would want the same for members of their family.

Having said that, it’s much more expensive for people to receive services in a nursing home, than in the community. If you’re looking at this solely from a numbers perspective, you might want to rethink your position.

youarewhatyoueat 4 years, 10 months ago

think about it,

the nursing home would also be funded by taxpayer dollars, and they are more expensive, too.

perhaps instead we should cut politicians' health care. they can obviously afford their own. i'd rather pay for the disabled to have health care than those worthless leeches in Topeka.

ferociouskitty 4 years, 10 months ago

Great response to "think_about_it" Meggers! In addition to that argument I would like you to know that persons with disabilities are assessed for their needs. That assessment takes into account skill sets, financial income & the ability to generate an income. Financial assitance & the amount of care provided through Medicaid & other funding is based on a personalized assessment. Being disabled does not necessarily equate to 24/7 care. It varies from person to person.

Oh and just to remark on another comment of yours, 'think about it', I don't consider paying my taxes "forced charity" and neither should you. We pay taxes here in America & its a system that works. Not flawlessly mind you. But it works. Might I also remind you that many persons with disabilities pay taxes themselves.

As for making tough decisions, it was the lack there of that got us into this budget deficit in the first place. Did you know in the state of Missouri there are 100 different tax exemptions given to various businesses, organizations & individuals. Here in Kansas there are over 500. You do the math.

PosseComitatus 4 years, 10 months ago

I decided to do a little research on this.

There was an increase in Medicaid funding from the Federal Government to the State due to an increase in the Kansas unemployment rate. Expenditures from the general fund were then reduced to reflect a increase of funds.

Kansas Human Services Expenditures for 2009 were 4.6 billion. The proposed budget for human services in 2011 is 4.8 billion... a 200 million dollar increase.

Where is the cut at???

BigDog 4 years, 10 months ago

Let me provide a bit of clarification. It is quite confusing to explain on here. First this was only in the area of developmental disabilities .... only a small portion of the Medicaid reductions.

And it did not restore anything. The state aid funds that were used were from a state only program. More or less they gutted that program to use those dollars so that federal matching funds could be pulled down.

It was what some felt the better of two crappy decisions .... over 1,500 people will lose their services in the state only program.

But everyone else (nursing homes, home health agencies, mental health, hospitals, doctors, pharmacists, etc) either chose not to make this decision or didn't have the state funds to move.

This budget cut really sucks because the state already doesn't reimburse for the cost of these services prior to the cuts. Many Medicaid providers takes a loss on providing Medicaid services in Kansas.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 10 months ago

thinkaboutit,

you did not think about it when you posted it, clearly.

Everyone knows to keep someone home and as independent as possible always costs less than nursing home care.

However, facts never have been your strong point.

PosseComitatus 4 years, 10 months ago

Big Dog,as far as I can tell his was a decision made at the agency level. This is being conveyed as a tax cut by the legislature when the line item wasn't cut.

HCBS-Developmentally Disabled line item 2008 $274,843,000 2009 $293,283,000 2010 $298,565,000 2011 $304,341,000

This line items includes state and federal funds.

Mixolydian 4 years, 10 months ago

The 10% cut to medicaid reimbursement rates came directly from the DEMOCRAT governor's office.

A good man, wish he'd reconsider running for his office, but he's hardly a conservative.

You people above putting this on the "evil" conservatives are just ignorant.

Patriot2 4 years, 10 months ago

I don’t mind paying my share of taxes. I don’t mind my tax dollars helping the disabled. The truly disabled who because of a physical or mental condition do not have the ability to earn an income or a living wage. What really pi$$es me off are the life-long lazy who feel it’s their entitlement to be taken care of on my dime! You all know the people I’m referring to. The owners of those big, shiny SUV’s taking up all the handicapped parking spaces. Those vehicles you need a step ladder to get into? The drivers hop down out of them and waddle into the store, huffin and puffin right to the bakery isle. If it’s their benefits that are being cut, I’d say it’s about time! I have no sympathy for people who are smart enough to work the system and too lazy to get a job. The times are tough for everyone. When the taxpayers are eating hamburger helper and cheese sandwiches trying to manage their paychecks to pay the mortgage and utility bills it’s an insult to see our money supporting a group of people who demand the government take care of them because that’s the way it’s always been. They all voted for change. Surprise! Get use to THE CHANGE!

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

PosseComitatus,

I think the numbers you see reflect the growing number of people qualifing for HCBS. Add to that the super intensive support needs of folks being moved out of institutions like Parsons.

Despite these increases, the waiting list for services continues to grow at rapid rate. Just look at the stats on autism alone and that might give you an idea why. Compound that with the fact that while KNI will remain open for now, a concerted effort is being made to move as many people as possible out, with the ultimate goal being closure. Many of these folks have needs that exceed the reimbursment that the state allows.

It looks like autie and Big Dog can probably answer your questions more fully, but the bottom line is that the DD system has been underfunded for years and the recent cut is sort of the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

People will lose services, people who need services will wait years if they get them all, and many providers of services will have to close completely because the reimbursement from Medicaid won't cover the costs they incur serving higher needs individuals.

anon1958 4 years, 10 months ago

Big Picture:

You really dont want a Kansan as a neighbor because, if your kids are sick, you die in a car wreck and your widowed mom gets disabled and cant help your unemployed wife take care of the kids, well those bunch of tightwad tax hating Kansans surely do not want to pay for any social services your surviving family members need.

I moved to this state with every intention of making it my permanent home. After 15+ years here, I will miss my friends but the oppressive and regressive herd of near humans that inhabit this state and send idiots, nincompoops and other ner do wells to Topeka to govern them, I will not miss at all.

Like Jack Nicholson Im "Going South" and not unlike Snake Bliskin I cannot escape this hell hole soon enough. The way Kansans treat their children and the poor is shameful beyond my tolerance.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 10 months ago

PosseComitatus (Anonymous) says…

Kansas Human Services Expenditures for 2009 were 4.6 billion. The proposed budget for human services in 2011 is 4.8 billion… a 200 million dollar increase.

How many additional residents are now eligible for services? How much did the cost of those services increase?

Your increase is a 4% increase, though 200 million dollars sounds a lot more threatening. Of that 4%, how much is newly eligible residents and how much is increases costs of those services?

I'm guessing if those figures are known, then it becomes clear the 4% increase is, indeed, a cut, as it does not keep pace with costs and enrollment.

redmoonrising 4 years, 10 months ago

The last line says it all. By raising taxes, they can restore Medicaid cuts. They knew that if they started messing with these, there would be enough people angry that they could try to force a tax increase to restore these services. What a crock and the disabled suffer because of it.

mom_of_three 4 years, 10 months ago

We have professional fields in this town for high school students? Where are they??? I want to see them.

And what does it have to do with these cuts.

ASBESTOS 4 years, 10 months ago

We are in a world of bad here.

If you raise taxes you killoff growth, and without growth you get no tx revenue.

IF you do not raise taxes, then services will no longer be provided, and people who depend on them will suffer.

Welcome to the Great American Depression of 2010. This is the one the Lamestream Media and your Goobermint is lying to you about.

There has been no recovery (and the numbers the goobermint uses to say there is a recovery is misinformation and simply not true), and it will only get worse when Greece and China slide off into economic chaos.

Throw in the fact that something like 31 states are insolvent in the United States and this story in the LJWorld is happening and repeated almost everywhere.

We need all "politicians" and both political parties to resign and start over.

roadhog 4 years, 10 months ago

The tea partys are making more sense everyday. The politicians & their wealthy friends ought to leave town now or be forced to leave. NAFTA was a joke from the start, as is "globalization", which is nothing but a euphemistic term for enslaving the world's population & funneling everything to the lard ass wealthy.

PosseComitatus 4 years, 10 months ago

I get that the program is under funded.

In FY 2009 the state spent a total 6.1 billion dollars.Projected receipts for FY 2010 is 5.4 billion, we can't enact a tax increase that will fix that, it is too late. The budget has to be cut for the current year. This isn't easy or pretty.

What happens at the agency level in this scenario is the appalling part.

Raw budget estimates are made, the politicians will say that they won't support tax increases, or in this case they can't increase taxes. Agencies will then develop a proposed detailed budget and submit it to the politicians. Every agency circles the wagons to protect "what's theirs" and the first thing that gets cut is high profile deliverable services in the hopes that there will be a public outcry and a push to increase taxes or force the politicians to take money from one agency and transfer it their budget.

The very people we are trying to support are exploited by the system. That is what bothers me the most about this.

Thanks to everyone for actually having an adult conversation on this. It is one thing to see a problem. It's a whole other thing to actually try and fix it. And the first step in fixing it is to understanding the complete problem.

BigDog 4 years, 10 months ago

PosseComitatus (Anonymous) says…

Big Dog,as far as I can tell his was a decision made at the agency level. This is being conveyed as a tax cut by the legislature when the line item wasn't cut.

HCBS-Developmentally Disabled line item 2008 $274,843,000 2009 $293,283,000 2010 $298,565,000 2011 $304,341,000

This line items includes state and federal funds.


PosseComitatus, Governor Parkinson built his budget based upon the tax increases happening and the 10% cut in Medicaid rates restored. The increase for 2011 is based upon this premise. Because the revenue enhancements aren't there, the actual proposed budget with the cuts left in the budget would be closer to $270 million. A reduction of roughly $30 million.

pace 4 years, 10 months ago

The state legislature has given tax breaks and special favors to corporations in the millions. The wouldn't want to stop that, they are part of the gravy train repulsians. Slap grandma and the crippled kid but make the old boy partners safe from inflation.

meggers 4 years, 10 months ago

roadhog,

I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm pretty sure the tea party leaders embrace globalization, corporate welfare, financial deregulation, and "trickle down" economics. We're seeing the catastrophic result of those failed policies and many of their followers are just too naive to realize it.

pace,

Well said. Repealing the coporate welfare the state legislature has been handing out over the years is clearly the most logical solution to closing the budget gap.

wastewatcher 4 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Nichols and his fat cat friends are most of all worried about their own wellbeing. Why can't all of them take a 25% pay cut so the money can go to the needy not the fat cats like Nichols and his friends living off the dollars that should be helping those in need. Mr. Nichols and his friends are pure bureaucratic overhead.

Godot 4 years, 10 months ago

"Regardless of what we do, we're going to have a period of low economic growth for the next few years, in a way similar to Japan. There was over-leverage, there was not enough savings; we have to spend less, we have to save more, and economic growth will be slow.

We can try to stimulate the margin economy using monetary fiscal policy and forbearing of the banks and backstopping them, but the reality is that the fundamental factors are, whenever you have a balance sheet recession, due to leverage and credit that's excessive, growth recovery is weak. There are 800 years of economic and financial history like in [unintelligible] that suggest that economic growth is going to be slow.

I don't think we can do much about it. If we try to do too much about it, then like [the English?] we will have an unsustainable fiscal deficit, runaway inflation, and that ends in a bigger disaster. So at some point we have to accept we overspent; we'll have to retrench."

Nouriel Roubini, on CNBC. today.

Do you want to play, "What should be," or "what is" ?

Wake up.

notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

ferociouskitty (Anonymous) says…

"Did you know in the state of Missouri there are 100 different tax exemptions given to various businesses, organizations & individuals. Here in Kansas there are over 500. You do the math."

Did you know that the Department of Mental Health in Missouri informed the providers they fund that they were not to accept any new clients (anyone who had not already been receiving any state-funded services during the past 12 months) with seven months to go in the fiscal year?

Do the math yourself - the money isn't there.


anon1958 (Anonymous) says…

"Like Jack Nicholson Im “Going South” and not unlike Snake Bliskin I cannot escape this hell hole soon enough. The way Kansans treat their children and the poor is shameful beyond my tolerance."

Gee, let us know when you find a state south of here that isn't suffering budget cuts.


You folks crack me up, you really do. How many of you are also on the thread about the education lawsuit screaming to add more money to the schools, too? 'But ... we have to pay for this, and we have to pay for that.' It's pretty apparent that most of you have never had to make such choices for yourself, your families, your own households. Because the only answer you can ever come up with is raise taxes - as long as it's someone ELSE's taxes.

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