Friday, July 3, 2009

America's Two-Headed Dog: Layoffs and Cuts to Social Programs

(This is a response I left to an article on The Huffington Post.) What's left out of the debate is the fact that many of these social welfare cuts are actually federal civil rights violations, and that the states have already received new federal grant money to pay for them. According to the ARRA website, by March 31 the states had received more than $15 billion in federal grants to be dedicated to medicaid programs. In order to get that money, the states could not have "eliminated coverage for home- and community-based waiver care that costs more than institutional care" since July 1, 2008. Since the nineties, reports have been published around the country showing that home and community based care services are always a cheaper alternative, program-wide, than institutionalization. The DHS Office for Civil Rights is now investigating whether such "home-and-community-based" services medicaid cuts are violations of the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. Similar civil rights complaints are pending in six states. So what have the states spent the $15 billion on? Here in Hawaii, the "home-and-community-based" program was cut by 65% - $14 million. Hawaii has already received more than $70 million in ARRA medicaid grant funds. But services are still being cut. The GAO recently called for oversight of what's happening with the ARRA funds once they go to the states. Apparently that's where the "transparency" stops. And kids who need those services in order to stay home with their loving families and caregivers are being threatened with institutionalization. It's barbaric. Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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About Me

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.