@NCCapitol

Medicaid clock ticking on NC group home residents

Posted December 11, 2012

Scores of disabled people who live in group homes rallied outside the Legislative Building on Nov. 14, 2012, saying they will likely be on the streets within two months if lawmakers don't take action to provide Medicaid funding for personal care services they need in their daily lives.

— Residents of group homes across North Carolina face their own fiscal cliff at the end of the year, when a change to state Medicaid rules cuts their benefits and could force them out on to the streets.

About 2,000 people with mental illness or developmental disabilities who live in group homes won't be eligible to have Medicaid pay for personal care services, such as help feeding themselves or bathing, as of Jan. 1. The loss of funding puts the homes that rely on that money at risk of closing.

Federal regulators pushed the changes to ensure the same personal care eligibility standards exist for people no matter where they live, instead of having rules that may steer people toward institutional care.

Budget changes approved last summer set aside $39.7 million to help adult care homes with similar issues involving Medicaid reimbursements for personal care services. But the language of the bill means that group homes, which often hold six to eight residents, don't qualify for the money.

"Sometimes I pray about it, and sometimes I can't sleep, just wondering whether we're going to have a roof overhead come Jan. 1 or not," Robert Bullock, who lives in a group home in Cary, said Tuesday.

The mood there is grim, with Bullock and his housemates receiving letters this week telling them they may lose their home in 21 days.

"We'll have to go somewhere because, when they send out the notices telling you've got to go, what are you going to do?" he said. "You've got to find somewhere to go. It's either shelters or on the streets."

State leaders have known about the problem since July but haven't fixed it.

Group home residents say they have nowhere to go Group home residents say they have nowhere to go

"It is unfair. It's cruel. It is unnecessary," said Julia Adams, assistant director of government relations for The Arc of North Carolina, which works with people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

"Our most vulnerable citizens in the great state of North Carolina are being held hostage by this right now," Adams said.

House Speaker Thom Tillis has requested Gov. Beverly Perdue to call lawmakers to Raleigh for a special legislative session so they could address the problem.

Perdue has vowed that the group home residents won't be left homeless, but she said state law prevents her from shifting state money to resolve the issue.

A spokesman for the governor said Tuesday that she is exploring other options and will announce her plans to fix it by the end of the week.

"We don't care how she fixes it," Adams said. "We don't care if it's a special session. We don't care if there's another way to do it, but it needs to be fixed promptly."

Bullock said he's contacted the Governor's Office many times in the past few months about the issue, but he's never received a response.

"Time is getting really short now, and we need some kind of solution," he said.

40 Comments

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  • piene2 Dec 12, 2:11 p.m.

    "That money ole Bev moved for the more at 4 program could have helped out .
    dragonslayer"

    Yes let us just let the children be as ignorant as their parents.

  • Reformed Liberal Dec 12, 12:34 p.m.

    I dare anyone here to go to a group or nursing home to tell them that you don't care about them. I want you to record it and put it YouTube so the whole world will know where you stand.

  • dragonslayer Dec 12, 12:31 p.m.

    That money ole Bev moved for the more at 4 program could have helped out .

  • too-obvious Dec 12, 12:27 p.m.

    bev can't help??? what about the millions she just spent fro dix hospital land. she could fix if she wanted to use her powers

  • xylem01 Dec 12, 12:20 p.m.

    @charmcclainlovesdogs2

    You cruel, cruel person. How can you state "They have family"?

    NOT EVERYONE HAS FAMILY.

    I can certainly see why you love dogs, no one else would put up with you.

  • Reformed Liberal Dec 12, 12:13 p.m.

    "Medicaid should not longer exist and never should have existed."

    A 34 year old man has been diagnosed with cancer. His parents have already passed away and have no other family. While suffering through his illness, he is not able to work.
    To add to his suffering, you want to take away his ability to get the medical treatment he needs. You want to take away any income assistance so he can eat. You are telling him that you don't care about him. You are telling him that you hope that he rots in the street just so your taxes on your million dollar income wont go up.

  • Reformed Liberal Dec 12, 11:44 a.m.

    "NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY WITH THEIR HEALTH AND MENTAL ISSUES. THEY HAVE FAMILY; SO START THERE."

    Well.. Don't you just love thy neighbor?

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Dec 12, 10:49 a.m.

    or you could take some of these folks in."

    NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY WITH THEIR HEALTH AND MENTAL ISSUES. THEY HAVE FAMILY; SO START THERE.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Dec 12, 10:35 a.m.

    These special people certainly needs a place call home to go. How can certain people be so cruel to people that is in need. Do they know what will happen to them tomorrow? Is Jesus please in how they are handling this matter? They should really rethink on this.

  • momeeee Dec 12, 10:30 a.m.

    Funny how Bev can find money to help her "legacy" look good but can't seem to help the people that are looked over on a daily basis and really count on help.

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