Looking through the recently passed state budget — which had been assembled quickly behind closed doors before Tuesday’s late-night/early morning passage — advocates for people with disabilities seem worried.
“There are so many cuts to people with disabilities in the health and human services bill that you don’t know which bad news to deliver first,” Steve Larson, The Arc Minnesota public policy director said in a statement. “People with disabilities get hit from all sides. If they are waiting for essential services, that wait will likely continue. If they are receiving services, they will see a funding cut. If their family member is paid to provide support to them, that family member will get his/her wages cut. If a resident of the adult foster home leaves that residence, it may create turmoil for the remaining residents.”
Pat Mellenthin, chief executive officer for The Arc Minnesota, called it a “bad news budget for people with disabilities.”
“The budget that was just approved cuts services that make life possible for people with disabilities and their families, makes reforms in some areas but goes backwards in others, and puts much of the cost on the state credit card,” Mellenthin said.
Some of the concerns they found in the Health and Human Services bill, which was passes at 1 a.m. Wednesday and signed eight hours later by Gov. Mark Dayton:
- Cuts wages by 20 percent for personal care attendants (PCAs) who provide services to relatives.
- Limits enrollment to services that help people with disabilities live in the community, technically called “waivered services.”
- Cuts payment rates for a variety of services funded by state Medical Assistance dollars that help people with disabilities live in the community and keep families together.
- Cuts services for people with disabilities judged to be “low need.”
- Restricts foster care homes in ways that would harm residents with disabilities. These restrictions would permanently decrease the number of people allowed to live in a home if one of the residents leaves.
- Cuts county funding that helps pay for a variety of services for people with disabilities.