*North Carolina legislators are working to create a solvent State budget. Though, instead of cutting true waste or increasing taxes, they have proposed cuts to Medicaid and CAP programs that would leave thousands of children (and adults) without access to vital speech, occupational and physical therapies as well as thousands of therapists un or under-employed.
Cutting Vital Services is Not the Answer to Economic Stability
June 15, 2009
In our current economic climate, it is commendable for our elected officials to seek to cut waste wherever possible in our state’s budget. However, the current budget cuts proposed by NC legislators, contradict their mission of creating economic stability.
Cuts to health and human services alone include a proposal to remove coverage of vital rehabilitation therapies for individuals with developmental disabilities. Besides being harmful to North Carolinians currently needing these services, such cuts would also leave thousands of our state’s most talented and valuable professionals unemployed and forced to seek work (and pay taxes) in other states.
Perhaps the most egregious repercussions of the proposed cuts are the long term effects on our state’s economy. Let’s say we save $15M by cutting speech, occupational and physical therapies from the Medicaid budget this year. The cost of providing for these children with disabilities in the future, when they haven’t had the opportunity to grow to be as independent as possible, will be ten-fold. Thousands of individuals with disabilities, who have the potential to lead independent and fulfilling lives with the proper intervention will be forced into institutions when their caregivers can no longer manage their needs.
Further, cutting CAP waiver funding prolongs an already criminal waitlist for families, who are forced into “self-imposed poverty” to qualify for Medicaid services. These are middle class parents and professionals who want to provide for their families, but can’t make enough to privately pay for lifesaving therapies. Why not expand CAP funding, decreasing the wait list from an average of 5-7 years, and help us get back to work and become financially solvent? Instead, how about writing a piece of legislation that requires our private insurance companies to cover services for developmental disabilities like Autism?
Finally, let’s not forget the enormous impact of the comparatively small pot of funding that helps non-profit organizations create miracles each day for families of special needs individuals. Organizations such as First In Families of North Carolina work within the infrastructure of the community to stretch the small amount of state dollars it receives, adding 50 cents to each state dollar allocated. FIF is an invaluable resource for North Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens.
These economic times do require tightening of the belt, and it’s prudent for our State to set a precedent of responsible consumerism, but that can be done without cutting jobs, life-saving health and human services, and leaving our future generations with enormous debt and responsibility.