Budget Cuts:Developmentally Disabled

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An advocate for the developmentally disabled community talks about how recent state budget cuts will impact people in Arizona with developmental disabilities.

No more cuts! No more cuts!

Hundreds of people turned out to speak out against nearly $17 million cut from services for people with developmental disabilities. People with varying degrees of physical therapy or mental impairments, disabilities that can limit their capacity to care for themselves or function in society without some help. That's help that usually comes to the form of services that include in-home care, rides to job sites, and a variety of therapies. D.E.S. cut rates paid to providers of services like those by 10%.

Protester #1:
This is not right!

And it completely eliminated non-residential services that are funded entirely by state dollars. Advocates filed a lawsuit, and a Maricopa County superior court judge blocked those cuts from taking effect. But the State is appealing that decision, so this fight is far from over.

Ted Simons:
Indeed. Last night I spoke with a lobbyist for agencies that provide services for people with disabilities. Bev Hermon is a former state lawmaker who has an adult son with a developmental disability. And Bev Hermon thanks for joining us on "Horizon."

Bev Hermon:
My pleasure.

Ted Simons:
What kind of services were cut?

Bev Hermon:
In developmental disabilities, all of those called State-only services, meaning that they don't have a federal match component. And those were the zero to three kids, those right ones that show that they may very well be developmentally disabled if. If they don't get help while they're infants so that service was eliminated. And then the service for the people in employment, like the kids who work at Basha's and so forth they have lost their transportation and their support. So they're gone, too. And then for the match services, the ones that are paid 2/3 by the feds, those were cut 10%, and unfortunately, the rates are already 15% under market. And the 10% cut will just -- we just felt like we didn't have any other choice than to sue.

Ted Simons:
I was going to ask that question. Why did you decide to go to court as opposed to try to work with the agency, try to work with the legislature, just try to work with folks to get this stuff back?

Bev Hermon:
It's not that we didn't try. In proposing their cuts, the Department of Economic Security said they would not be able to meet all of their access requirements; they would not be able to do all their monitoring and all the other things that they are supposed to do for the centers for Medicare and Medicaid. But they didn't ever give us the option to take a look at some of the things that we could do that would actually have allowed us to suffer some, a cut of some size.

Ted Simons:
I was going to say, lawmakers will say, go ahead and do this now but this will only make future cuts that much worst. How would you respond?

Bev Hermon:
Well, as long as we are, have the lawsuit in place every day is a gift. And so we keep hoping to work with legislators to accomplish some of the things that we would have done had D.E.S. chosen to work with us rather than to announce that these cuts were in place. And this was on February 13th for March 1st. Very little time to even adjust for making that size of cuts.

Ted Simons:
Would you rather have had lawmakers make these cuts as opposed to the agency?

Bev Hermon:
Yes. I would have preferred that. Because, A, so many of them understand our services. We make a point to try to educate members. Take them on tours; let them see the population, the services in place. And I felt as though it might have worked better for us simply because D.E.S. is a small agency, actually. And the cuts that were made to them kind of forced their hand with our cuts, too.

Ted Simons:
If the cuts wind up going into effect, what is your next step?

Bev Hermon:
Interesting. Well, I told you, there will be all kinds of services closed. There will be really problems with group homes because everything is a fixed cost except the staff and the food. So that means that there will be less staff. It's a safety issue. That is very vulnerable population. The very children or the very adults who actually are so charming also make them very vulnerable to abuse. And so we're very worried.

Ted Simons:
All right. Bev, thank you so much for joining us on "Horizon."

Bev Hermon:
Thank you so much.

Bev Hermon:Lobbyist for agencies providing services for disabled people

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