Providers of services to people with developmental disabilities have suffered a 10% reduction in funding in May 2009, and a 5% cut in October 2011. Their rates are based on DES' determination of their actual costs, but the legislature determines what percentage of the rates is funded. This funding is now at about 70%. Most providers have cut back on services that require the highest subsidies, a few have gone out of business, and we do not know of any that are operating at a positive net margin on these services.
A recent report by a DES Consultant reported that provider funding is adequate because the number of providers have not changed very much. Using this logic, by the time the number of providers decreases significantly, the system will be devastated. The Consultant did NOT look at provider financial statements which show losses in the millions of dollars. Governor Jan Brewer relied on this report when she decided NOT to include any new funding in her budget.
We are requesting $9 million for FY 2014. This is matched 2 to 1 by the federal government, resulting in total funding of $27M. The Governor did not include anything for DD services in her budget. The preliminary legislative budget has $5.4M in it for provider reimbursement, but $9M is needed (3.6M more). This is the amount that will stop the bleeding. It will not allow restoration of wage cuts to employees or benefits, purchases of new vans, etc., it will be just enough to allow providers to maintain the status quo for now. The legislature is working to finalize the budget NOW.
**A Letter from a Parent**
I am writing to you in desperation. I am the mother of a 28 year old daughter who suffers developmental disabilities. Her name is Sarah, and she is a joy. Through no fault of anyone's, Sarah was born with a severe seizure disorder, she has cognitive delays, right sided weakness, and a speech and language handicap. Sarah is like a 7 year old. She enjoys shopping and going out to eat. One of her most joyous things in life is going to her day program, "One Step Beyond", which was founded by the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome.
Not long ago, people like Sarah were warehoused in institutions, or kept in sheltered workshops. If you were to walk through the doors of One Step Beyond, you would be greeted with miles of smiles and laughter, and a sense of a tight knit community. People with developmental disabilities are extremely vulnerable out in the "normal" community, as many of these children and young adults possess a great sense of trust and innocence, which leaves them open to abuse and exploitation.
Sarah and people like Sarah cannot work a regular job in our community due to their cognitive disabilities. At One Step Beyond, Sarah works several jobs with direct supervision for a minimal amount of money (which she takes great pride in). Without programs like One Step, Sarah and every person like her in this state is at risk for abuse, stagnation, and missed opportunities to grow.
I have been made aware that because of budget cuts in 2009, and 2011 these programs are now operating at 70%, which is NOT sustainable. Many programs have already closed their doors. The providers who work with this population are truly angels on earth and cannot stand another reduction in pay, as these special individuals are certainly not working at these programs for the "easy money". Programs for people with developmental disabilities need 9 million budgeted for 2014. The preliminary budget has 5.4 million allocated for provider reimbursement; however, 9 million is essential to ensure programs like One Step Beyond survive. I implore you to make this a priority, and do not forget about the individuals like my daughter who deserve to live a happy and safe live. Please, please, PLEASE make sure the budget is changed to reflect the $9 million needed for provider reimbursement for 2014.
Thank you all,