@NCCapitol

Looming group home crisis becoming political football

Posted October 25, 2012

— The prospect of thousands of disabled residents being forced from group homes across North Carolina in January has led to political finger-pointing.

The state for years applied different standards for people to qualify for personal care services, depending on whether they lived at home or in an adult care facility. The services help disabled people with everyday activities, such as eating, bathing and getting dressed.

Federal regulators repeatedly demanded that the state apply the same standard for everyone, and a federal judge ruled last December that the state was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and ordered a common standard to qualify for personal care services.

Choosing the lower standard used in adult care facilities could have cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars, so the state chose the tougher standard that had been applied to people receiving personal care services at home. As a result, more than 11,000 disabled people in group or adult care homes will no longer qualify for the services through Medicaid as of Jan. 1 because the state considers them functional enough to live without them.

After adult care facilities said the cut to their income could put them out of business, lawmakers set aside about $40 million to help them transition.

In the final days of the legislative session, however, Republican leaders changed the law to say the transition money could go only to adult care homes – group homes for mentally ill and developmentally disabled people would get no help.

"It was our understanding from staff and the information we had at the time that the changes in the personal care services definition would not impact the financial stability of those group homes," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

Personal Care Services client in group home Loss of services to group home residents turns into blame game

WRAL News has obtained emails between the state Department of Health and Human Services and lawmakers that show lawmakers and staffers were told a week before the law was finalized that group homes would need help.

Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, who's experienced at handling mental health issues in the General Assembly, said she wants to know how DHHS couldn't have passed that information along.

"Why didn't anybody over there know and why didn't anybody tell us?" Insko said she asked people. "I got a call back that they did know. A legislative staffer called me and said they had actually had conversations."

DHHS officials declined to comment Thursday.

In Wednesday's gubernatorial debate, Republican candidate Pat McCrory blamed Gov. Beverly Perdue for the looming crisis. He also has repeatedly tried to link his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, to Perdue's actions.

"Gov. Perdue recently signed a deal with the federal government which is literally pushing people out of senior homes and possibly out of the street," McCrory said. "These are usually older people, many of them with mentally ill issues, and come January we could have a major catastrophe."

The Perdue administration's agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice was to offer more housing options for mentally ill people.

A spokesman for Dalton on Thursday blasted McCrory's remarks.

"Not only is Pat McCrory wrong, but it's the Republican legislature's budget, which he supported and Walter Dalton opposed, that created the problem in the first place," spokesman Schorr Johnson said. "This isn't the first time Pat McCrory has no clue what he's talking about."

McCrory's campaign declined Thursday to clarify his comment.

10 Comments

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  • storchheim Oct 26, 6:08 p.m.

    affdiv - yes, and it didn't matter that the attacks were coming at you, not from you, if they pegged you it was always going to be your fault.

  • affirmativediversity Oct 26, 4:47 p.m.

    If the Republican Legislators want straight answers from DHHS then they'd better clean house and fast. That place is stuffed to the rafters with Democratic Party operatives, cronies and floozies. To them "information is power" and they don't care who will be adversely effected by withholding said information...its all about "The BIG Progressive Picture"...

    WAKE UP...Republican Law Makers...these people don't work for you or me...the work for the Democratic Party.

  • affirmativediversity Oct 26, 3:20 p.m.

    And Bev takes 20 million to provide free daycare for children with homes instead of helping those about to lose theirs. per jlhpcarew

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    Bev like all Demcrats don't give 2 hoots for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are the poster children for the saying "What you give over to government control today...government can TAKE AWAY tomorrow"

  • affirmativediversity Oct 26, 3:10 p.m.

    "...punishes those who ask the right questions because they're "argumentative". Top it off with someone whose goal is to "get more people on Medicaid" and you're set." per storchheim

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    You forgot "disrespectful" and "not a team player"...ohh if I had a dime for every time those terms were used to describe me.

    I remember being at a training session with these clowns (a few years ago) when they were espousing their goal to have 100% of North Carolina children on medicaid...when I stated the taxpayers of North Carolina couldn't afford that and maybe we should concentrate on the children who truly need assistance...WELL you should have heard the response...oh and the icing on the cake was my supervisor had been called and given "an overview" of my "indiscretion" before I'd even left the parking lot of the training location.

    That's how those people work and that's why NO ONE WAS TOLD...no one dares challenge the "people in the know"

  • affirmativediversity Oct 26, 3:00 p.m.

    This is what you receive when you become dependent on Government. this is where Medicare is heading. Medicaid of course will simply just be a bit worse. ObamaCare essentially is a loaded gun pointed at the head of every Senior that ONLY has Medicare and Medicaid. per whatelseisnew

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    I could not agree more!!!!

    I wish people would really put some thought into this and see it for what it is and not what they'd like it to be.

  • affirmativediversity Oct 26, 2:57 p.m.

    Funding or no funding...Group Homes in this State are a disgrace! They are nothing more than warehouses for people...they are poorly staffed with untrained and unqualified staff. The people who live in these homes are given no privacy and have no rights...they are treated worse than most people treat their pet dogs...they are not allowed visitors unless approved and pre-arranged, they are given no say if or with who they share a room...their personal property can be taken from them at any time and for almost any reason "staff" deems appropriate...they are subject to "discipline" again at the whim of those UNTRAINED staff members.

    Murderers, in this State, are given better housing and afforded more rights than people with disabilities!

  • storchheim Oct 26, 1:30 p.m.

    "How could this happen?"

    A leaderless staff at DMA, making up their own rules, more interested in fighting with, dominating, and destroying each other than getting the numbers right. Then you'll need what little mgt there is, to ignore the problems because the boys have been there 25 years and besides, this is just a stepping stone and they don't want to make the effort to fix anything. Ensure that mgt hires its cronies, or people from the same country of origin on H1-B visa, and punishes those who ask the right questions because they're "argumentative". Top it off with someone whose goal is to "get more people on Medicaid" and you're set.

    The State needs an enema, and DHHS is where the nozzle goes.

  • jlhpcarew Oct 25, 7:42 p.m.

    And Bev takes 20 million to provide free daycare for children with homes instead of helping those about to lose theirs.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 25, 7:33 p.m.

    This is what you receive when you become dependent on Government. this is where Medicare is heading. Medicaid of course will simply just be a bit worse. ObamaCare essentially is a loaded gun pointed at the head of every Senior that ONLY has Medicare and Medicaid.

  • pm2 Oct 25, 6:50 p.m.

    Don't worry Obama Care will fix it.....