Monday, September 20, 2010

NC News: Disability Rights Group Fights Cuts to In Home Care

The News and Observer ran this story on Friday. The cuts and the new program to serve people with in-home care occurred during this biennial budget cycle. Advocates across the state have expressed concern regarding the depth of the cuts.

Disability rights group fights cuts to in-home care

The director of Disability Rights North Carolina has sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department asking for an investigation of deep cuts to the state's Medicaid Personal Care Services program, which provides in-home care to those with disabilities.

Vicki Smith, the group's director, says the cuts will "endanger people with disabilities in North Carolina or force them into large, institution-like facilities." That would violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that requires the state to serve people with disabilities within their community when possible, Smith wrote.

More than 37,000 elderly and disabled residents in North Carolina rely upon the assistance of trained home-care aides for such basic activities as bathing, dressing, eating and using the toilet. The state Department of Health and Human Services signed a $24 million contract last year with a vendor tasked with determining which elderly and disabled persons can receive in-home assistance and how many hours of care they will receive.

The Association of Home & Hospice Care of North Carolina, which represents providers of in-home services, also wrote to the feds to ask that they stop the state cuts. Tim Rogers, the association's CEO, said the new state process for assessing who gets services and who doesn't is in violation of federal law.

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