Disability advocates say House budget plan hurts but is better than governor’s proposed cuts

Advocates for people with disabilities said Monday’s House proposal on cuts in health and human services is better than Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s proposal but still cuts services to those who need them the most.

The proposed House cuts are $168 million, versus $346 million in the governor’s budget, said Steve Larson, public policy director for The Arc of Minnesota.

“[T]the specific cuts in the House proposal would harm vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, less than the governor’s proposal,” he said. “However, programs for persons with disabilities have shouldered the burden of $500 million in budget cuts, fee hikes, and funding shifts over the past seven years, and we would have supported even smaller cuts by the House.”

Unlike the governor’s plan, the House proposal doesn’t cut dental services or physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to adults on Medical Assistance, he said.

Still, rates for providers of a variety of disability services of were cut 1%, which is less than the governor’s proposed 2.5 percent cut, but it comes on top of last session’s, 2.58 percent which providers cannot make up themselves by raising fees for their services, he said.

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