Georgia has proposed funding cuts that would drastically affect the quality of service for developmentally disabled adults in certain residential programs and day services. Federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid forced the changes to be looked at by the Department of Community Health. Previous hearings led to packed rooms filled with emotions, from staff to the people they serve urging the state to hold off on making any changes until further studies of how it will impact the community are done.
Most facilities serving developmentally disabled adults are nonprofit, and these rate changes could cause some programs to take a large financial hit. Smaller facilities could be forced to close under the proposed plan due to lack of funding. And if closed, then what will happen to the people? Some ways it would affect centers is that instead of going 5 days a week to a day program, clients may be cut down to 2 or 3 days per week. Day providers offer services such as life and job skills, access to the community, or transportation to and from a supported employment position. Many clients also give back to the community by volunteering locally. Most clients enjoy spending time with peers and the opportunity to work, or going out into the community. Taking part of this away could greatly affect a persons demeanor.
By only providing services 2 or 3 days a week day programs would not receive the funding needed to cover operating costs or to maintain staff to offer quality services. Funding has already been cut by 40% for some services in this area in the past 10 years. While programs adjusted to these cuts by using other sources, the steady downfall of the economy has all but wiped out alternative sources.
Cuts would also affect home providers and families. More time at home for some families means loss of income because they will have to either stay home or pay someone to stay with their family member.
After meeting opposition on all sides, the Community Health board pushed rate changes to March 2012. A bill requiring all rate changes to have legislative approval was introduced in the Georgia House.
If you or someone you know would be greatly affected by the proposed rate increase, you can help by contacting Georgia state representatives, Department of Community Health, and the Department of Behavorial Health & Developmental Disabilities and let them know this needs further study before any changes are made.