Local Politics

Advocates for disabled vow to sue over budget cuts

Posted June 23, 2009

State budget
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— An advocacy group for disabled North Carolina residents on Tuesday threatened to sue the state if lawmakers incorporate proposed cuts to human services programs into the state budget.

The Department of Health and Human Services could lose about $1 billion as lawmakers struggle to erase a projected $4.6 billion budget deficit. The cuts include home health workers and support for organizations that provide community-based care for people with mental and physical disabilities and the elderly.

Disabled could lose home health care in budget Disabled could lose home health care in budget

Disability Rights North Carolina contends some cuts would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and Medicaid regulations, and they are gearing up for a legal battle if the cuts pass the General Assembly.

House and Senate negotiators are trying to reconcile the budgets they approved separately in recent months and approve a compromise two-year spending plan before the new fiscal year starts on July 1.

"It's a violation of (people's) rights. It's morally reprehensible," said Vicki Smith, executive director of Disability Rights North Carolina.

The group's board on Friday approved shifting all available money and tapping a reserve fund to challenge the proposed cuts in court.

"Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independently in their community" under federal law, Smith said.

She estimated that the proposed DHHS cuts could violate the rights of more than 50,000 children and adults.

Clyde Goodwin, 53, said he fears winding up in a state-run nursing home. A car crash 32 years ago left him paralyzed from the chest down, and he requires round-the-clock care to help him eat, bathe and get out of bed at home.

"Anything less than this, I really don't want to think about," Goodwin said, adding that losing his home health aide "would just change my whole quality of life, my whole outlook on life."

Even without the threat of a lawsuit, lawmakers said they face difficult choices as they try to craft a budget in a down economy.

"You either have to cut or raise revenue, so that's the situation we're in right now," said Sen. William Purcell, D-Scotland.

32 Comments

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  • anonemoose Jun 24, 2009

    readerman, just like many others who like to take 1 or 2 sentences out of a 7 page opinion, and you still made my point. The keyword in your little c/p is "institutional". It doesn't say structured living. There is a big difference. Institutional is a mental hospital, or other setting without the freedom to come and go. What is being talked about is to move them into structured living.

  • anonemoose Jun 24, 2009

    They do have the right to live independently. Nobody is taking that away from them. They just don't have the right to do so at taxpayer expense.

  • Professor Jun 24, 2009

    If they have a doctor telling the government that they can't work then there is nothing they can do with what that person does at their home as long as they are on legal disability. Sad but true.

    True comment. There are "some" people who is really not disabled. Doctors need to wake up and deal with the real diabled people and not the fakes.

  • ladyblue Jun 24, 2009

    Well Mike, unless you have reported her, then you really can't fuss about it. If the authorities don't know, and you don't repoert, then you might as well be an accomplice.
    GravyPig

    Having worked for DSS I can tell you it's not that easy to prove fraud. If they have a doctor telling the government that they can't work then there is nothing they can do with what that person does at their home as long as they are on legal disability. Sad but true.

  • Just the facts mam Jun 24, 2009

    "Individuals with disabilities have the right to live independently in their community"

    So who is stopping them??? If people with disabilities do not depend on the government financially, then the government is not going to come in and force people with disabilites to not live independently.

  • GravyPig Jun 24, 2009

    The state needs to take this seriously. If they don't, then we could be seeing tha same kind of thing CA has with their public defenders. They can't pay the public defenders, and so they are going to lay them off and have to outsource to private attourneys to take over for the Public defenders (at a much greater cost). By doing this, it will cost CA even more that it would had they kept the Public Defenders.

    I'm sure the suit is a scare tactic, but we have to find a btter way to balance things than cutting funds for our disabled and education.

  • GravyPig Jun 24, 2009

    MikeTroll3572 - "I know a woman that gets 800 a month to sit on her rear, drink beer and smoke cigaretts when she could work with no problem. She is in her mid 40's and is sponging the system dry for no reason at all. The same as some of the people I talk to at the employment security agency. Why work when I can get unemployment for a year and do nothing. Shameless people!!!"

    Well Mike, unless you have reported her, then you really can't fuss about it. If the authorities don't know, and you don't repoert, then you might as well be an accomplice.

  • GravyPig Jun 24, 2009

    SME2 - "What is wrong with the guy being in a state run home if he can not take care of him self or can not afford to pay someone to take care of him?

    Hey at least he will still be breathing and living...the my whole outlook on life comment will be changed is funny. My outlook on life changed too when I went from living in a 2600 sq ft house to a 1600 sq ft house too. What's the big deal?

    People just want something for nothing."

    Ah yes our great state run facilities, like the one that let guy sit in the same chair for several days and ended up dying?

    The square footage issue you have is nothing. You make it sound like assisted living facilities are great. Wake up buddy. If you have not visited or had a loved one in one of these care facilities, then you don't know what you are talking about. Thank goodness my grandmother has alzheimers and had no clue that she had to live in one for a short period.

  • GravyPig Jun 24, 2009

    meh2 - "Good democrats - attack those least able to defend themselves. Keep up the good work, and keep padding your own bank accounts. If you had the ability to be ashamed you would be."

    Yep I really should be in the Republican party, those guys are so upstanding and forthright. Never done anything bad before, surely they don't line their pockets or work for their own interests.

    Give it a rest. The only kind of politician that doesn't lie/cheat/steal/look out for their own interests is a dead politician.

  • colliedave Jun 24, 2009

    No one is entitled to free in-home health care. While it may not be desirable, a person's physical limitations may require placement in a nursing home. Even there, life is what chooses to make of it.

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