Will people with disabilities end up paying for this cut?
You've heard about all the potential budget cuts at the state level. But tonight we begin with one that's a sure thing, at least for the rest of this fiscal year.
Governor Rick Scott issued an executive order on Friday that cuts 15% off the rates collected by community based organizations for services provided to those with developmental disabilities.
Some say even these temporary reductions will leave a lot of people with nowhere to go. The order was issued to solve a $170 million budget deficit in the state Agency for Persons With Disabilities this fiscal year. But the state institutions and administrative offices won't be taking the cut.
Community based organizations who bill through Medicaid for the services they provide to developmentally and intellectually disabled people will shoulder the reductions. And those at one such agency: Arc of Alachua County, say the result will be devastating.
Executive Director of Arc of Alachua County Dick Bradley said, "It's a tragedy. A developing disaster." He says that disabled people will end up paying for this cut. Because some service providers will not be able to absorb the mandated 15% reduction and will have to close their doors.
Bradley said, "Some of these rates, after they're reduced will not even provide enough income to pay somebody minimum wage to provide the service."
There are 30,000 developmentally disabled individuals in Florida who rely on Medicaid to fund services such as adult day care and job assistance. Arc of Alachua County serves 120 people in group homes and 250 every day at their facility through day programs.
Bradley says some of Arc's behavioral service rates have been reduced by even more...as much as 40%. He said, "It's gonna hurt and hurt a lot, but we'll survive three months. My main concern is that many many many providers in Florida will not survive and in fact they're already giving notice, many of them."
Bradley says if community based agencies close, then many developmentally disabled people will have nowhere to go. And their families will be impacted too. Not to mention, the economic impact of layoffs and pay cuts for their 250 employees.
Bradley says the wrong people are being penalized for someone else's money mistakes. He said, "Given the fact that they're the ones that caused it. Certainly not the people that we serve, they didn't cause any problem. And we can only bill what they say we can bill, so we didn't cause the problem."
These reductions are effective through June 30th. But if another deficit is projected for next year, then the order could be made again. There will be a protest in Tallahassee on Wednesday.
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