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Residents call on lawmakers to keep NC group homes open

Posted November 14, 2012

— Scores of disabled people who live in group homes rallied outside the Legislative Building on Wednesday, saying they will likely be on the streets in two months if lawmakers don't take action.

Chanting "save our homes," the group called on lawmakers to hold a special session in December to provide money for services to mentally ill and developmentally disabled people in group homes.

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 Medicaid reimbursement income could put them out of business, lawmakers set aside about $40 million to help them transition. The money is earmarked for nursing homes or adult care facilities, leaving about 2,000 people in group homes statewide with no help.

"It's the end of the line. The only place to go now is to a shelter, and the shelters are full," said Ann Akland, of the Wake County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "They can't survive out on the street without help. There has to be some solution."

Personal care services protest Funding cut could leave hundreds of disabled in NC homeless

The General Assembly doesn't return for its regular session until Jan. 30, so a special session would be needed to address the situation before the cuts kick in.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, who heads the House Appropriations and Health and Human Services committees, said Gov. Beverly Perdue's administration didn't fully inform lawmakers about the problem and should be responsible for fixing it.

"They can pull from other sources – the same place they just recently pulled $20 million (for pre-kindergarten programs) – and pull sufficient funds in so that they can cover these group homes," said Dollar, R-Wake.

The Perdue administration disputes Dollar's statement, saying Republican legislative leaders were fully informed. The administration cannot fix the problem because of budget constraints, a spokeswoman for Perdue said, so the governor is talking with lawmakers to try to find a solution.

Two subcommittees of a legislative panel looking at ways to overhaul North Carolina's mental health system met in Raleigh Wednesday, and some of the protesters spoke to the lawmakers about their situation.

Alexander Harrison said he has lived in group homes for nine years because his schizo-affective disorder requires 24-hour supervision. If the home closes and he's unable to get medication or care through Medicaid, he said he will likely become homeless.

"(Group homes are) very important to prevent homelessness, incarceration and living in the hospital," Harrison said.

26 Comments

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  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 9:16 a.m.

    Here's another choice we made. Turn these people out on the streets or:
    High Point Furniture Market

    $778,252
    Unmonitored!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 9:09 a.m.

    No money?
    North Carolina Rural Economic

    $27,220,575
    "It found that the department did not follow its own "grant-risk assessment" policy for this group of grants, nor did it properly track how the money was spent and ensure that it went to its intended purposes."

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 9:07 a.m.

    ANOTHER POOR CHOICE:
    Biofuels Center of NC

    $4,825,000
    Audit: Commerce officials did not monitor legislative grants
    POOR CHOICE COMPOUNDED!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 9:05 a.m.

    Here's a choice we made:
    NC Minority Support Center

    $3,742,974
    But we cannot take care of those that cannot take care of themselves! Poor CHOICE!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 8:56 a.m.

    "The Commerce Department did not adequately monitor how $80 million worth of economic development grant money was spent by 20 nonprofits during fiscal 2011, according to a report issued Thursday by the State Auditor's Office"

    We do not have a revenue problem, we have a speding problem. We need to choose more wisely. We threw out $80 million and have no clue how it was spent. Read the article under "News" here on WRAL website. We choose to spend this $80 million on these programs rather than take care of those that cannot take care of themselves!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 8:45 a.m.

    We do not have a revenue problem,we have a spending problem. We (as a state-Purdue) decided to provide baby sitting at public schools rather than take care of these people. We made that choice and now we must live with it. Its all about choices. WE NEED TO CHOOSE BETTER! NOT SPEND MORE!

  • tarheelfan41 Nov 16, 8:35 a.m.

    Don't forget NIMBY! These same people will be protesting against group homes when they try to locate in their neighborhood. (NIMBY= Not In My Back Yard)

  • NCHighlander Nov 15, 2:50 p.m.

    "Ms. bev perdue had $20 million dollars to spend on public school day care centers, but nothing on these folks"

    Look at the raises she could have given all of those poor starving teachers in this state.

  • jdkey Nov 15, 12:52 p.m.

    this is another example of why ObamaCare is such a bad idea. People that rely on Government for their well-being end up just like these people. Now the Governor just claimed SHE found 20 million dollars over in DHHS that she could steal and use for her State sanctioned babysitting services. I guess she chose babysitting over these folks.

    You got it 100% right

  • tayled Nov 15, 11:46 a.m.

    The legislature created this mess, they should put on their big boy pants, admit the mistake, and correct it. No, they will play politics with it, blaming and finger pointing instead of taking action.

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