Loss of services could force thousands from NC group homes

Posted August 14, 2012
Updated August 15, 2012

— A long-running battle between North Carolina and the federal Medicaid program could cost 12,000 people their homes next year.

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. Last December, in response to a lawsuit by an advocacy group for the disabled, a federal judge ruled 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, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia said Tuesday.

"It would have made a lot of people who were in their homes living with their families eligible. It would have been tens of thousands of people and would have exploded the cost for the state," Delia said.

So, the state chose the tougher standard that had been applied to people receiving personal care services at home.

On Jan. 1, thousands of disabled people in group or adult care homes will no longer qualify for the services through Medicaid because the state considers them functional enough to live without them.

Lou Wilson, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of Long Term Care Facilities, said the loss of Medicaid funding could force many group homes to close. Personal Care Services client Change in standard means fewer qualify for personal care services

"The personal care dollars pay for all the staff that meets the daily needs of the people like baths, (other) needs, supervision, helping them with their medication, those kinds of things," Wilson said. "There will be over 12,000 people in North Carolina who will have no place to live."

Some people forced to leave group homes will have to go back to families that might not be able to care for them, said Julia Adams, assistant director of government relations for advocacy group ARC of North Carolina.

"These problems we're going to see with the personal care services as they ripple through our group homes will lead to more institutionalizations in the future, we believe," Adams said.

State lawmakers set aside $39 million to help affected people through next June, and Delia said a blue ribbon task force will meet this fall to look for long-term solutions that could include more state money.

"Many states provide these kinds of services at whatever level they set with state dollars rather than with Medicaid dollars, which includes federal funds," he said. "It's a matter of how much is the state willing and able to pay."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 20, 2012

    @batcave, is the mantra of churches to “do unto others” or not? It’s that simple.

    You could do all the charity work for all of the Dressage horses in the world (like Mitt Romney has done and gotten a tax break for), but it’s all for nothing...if you don’t do what you tell us that you do... Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done Unto You.

    It’s a good thing. Try it. Every day. The world would be a better place if more people followed this ancient rule that has been around since man invented the wheel.

  • kermit60 Aug 16, 2012

    Another program that is facing the reality of" there ain't enough money" to make everyone happy. Every group suffers from cuts to include, schools, social programs, medi-care, social security, military etc. This country has been just writing another check every time someone screamed we need more. The bank ran out so they borrowed. We are now 16 trillion in debt as a country and people still want to keep writing checks and borrowing. The next generation, our kids and grand kids have trillions they owe and have recieved absolutly nothing for it.

  • sherry13 Aug 15, 2012

    To honeymaroney - "Why does someone living at home require the same...medicade as a person in a rest home..."

    There are different types of "Medicaid." In a rest home, "Special Assistance" may supplement a resident's income to pay for room and board. It's also possible to receive a LESSER amount of Medicaid at home to help pay living expenses. This article isn't talking about that type of Medicaid.

    The article refers to Medicaid "Personal Care Services" funds which pay for HANDS-ON physical assistance. For example, whether you are at home or in a rest home, you may need someone to help you with toileting, bathing, dressing, eating.

    The article says the federal government thinks the NC assessment system makes it less likely for the person in-home to receive personal care services funds, than someone in a rest home or group home. To fix this, rather than increase assistance in personal homes (would cost the NC gov. too much) they are decreasing assistance in rest homes.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 15, 2012

    "On Jan. 1, thousands of disabled people in group or adult care homes will no longer qualify for the services through Medicaid because the state considers them functional enough to live without them."

    Ah yes your Federal government at work once again to FORCE everyone to don their jack boots and march to their music. I am not worried though. I am quite sure that all those lovely lefties will each bring one or two of these folks into their homes and actually personally do something for someone else, or I guess we should just turn all the rich people upside down and shake any money they have to fix the problem.

  • LambeauSouth Aug 15, 2012

    "wow, loss of anything coherent figures LambeauSouth"

    It appears you can't count either.

    what's up , your not yourself? I mean I enjoy the back and forth
    u ok? seriously.....

  • batcave Aug 15, 2012

    children. If you have children you cannot critize any program with the state cause you on welfare education yourself.

    So you think its a good idea to have an uneducated society. You benefit from public education , whether you have kids or not. easy argument to win. Education is the route to end dependency. I mean you gotta be kiddin me.

  • batcave Aug 15, 2012

    Where are the so-called "do unto others" people now?

    You have no clue as to how much charity work churches do. amazing, but then again may be not. Your are the one turning faith into a politcal football. atheist= the new belief pushers.

  • sherry13 Aug 15, 2012

    Again, from someone in the business, don't think seniors who receive government assistance to pay for assisted living don't pay anything themselves. To qualify for assistance to pay the basic rate in assisted living, your income must be very low - less than $1246 net per month (including pension, Social Security, and any other income) and you must have less than $2000 in the bank. These are people who have worked hard on the job, or raising children and caring for their families, all their lives. Their jobs just didn't pay well, &/or they received no pension, &/or health problems have used up all their money. After all those years of faithful service to society, they have total assets of less than $2000 and they must pay ALL BUT $66 of their small monthly income for their care. Out of that $66 per month they must pay for toiletries, clothes, co-pays on medicines and incidentals (anything from haircuts to eye glasses [Medicare won't pay for glasses anymore])

  • knockitoff Aug 15, 2012

    For those who have made comments to me directly:
    *I* PAID (not hte government, not any other tax payer but me, not a free program, not a service, for a disabled child (AND I WAS A SINGLE PARENT) to go to special education AND I WORKED, I work now and PAY for my disabled alcoholic fathers daily needs. So I AM PAYING...I've paid taxes, and I've paid for the healthcare and am STILL paying. So DON'T cry me YOUR river - take care of your OWN kids and stop crying river when the service or system isn't there for you. I don't want to hear it, I paid, and am still paying! I'm not complaining, I'm doing MY JOB as a daughter and a mother.

  • damauro Aug 15, 2012

    Isn't it amazing how cold some people can be? It is hard to believe that caring for our elderly folks in a loving humane way is even a topic for discussion.