Co-Chairs Release a Targeted Reduction List–What’s On It?

Posted by on May 8, 2017

Oregon’s economy is healthy and growing, but so are its costs. In fact, the costs of current services and budgeted obligations have outpaced the amount of money coming into the state to pay for them. Our legislative leaders have been warning us for months now that, without new sources of revenue, there will be cuts. Now, for the first time, we are getting a clearer picture of what those cuts might look like, as the Joint Ways and Means Committee Co-Chairs, Senator Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Representative Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) have released their 2017-19 Target Reduction Lists.

For the IDD service system, the cuts are spread over several areas, as follows:

  • Criteria for eligibility in IDD services would be changed in two ways. 1.) Parental income would be counted when determining financial eligibility for children with IDD, and 2.)  Individuals of all ages would need to demonstrate disability-related functional impairment in 3 areas rather than the currently required 2 areas. We will explore who this might impact and how in a separate post (to be released in the next couple of days).
  • PSWs would no longer be able to provide and be paid for more than 40 hours of work per week. Personal Support Workers (PSWs) are providers employed directly by an individual or their designated Common Law Employer. They are hired by a person in need of support to work on specific goals and areas of need. PSWs are often, but not always, family members or other known individuals in a person’s life. This would follow a series of limitations imposed on PSW service provision. Currently, PSWs are limited to providing no more than 40 hours per week, with some granted a special exemption based on utilization, and allowed to provide up to 50 hours per week. Under this reduction, the state would seek to bargain an end to that special exemption status.

    Program Reductions – Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, from page 8 of “Ways and Means Co-Chairs’ 2017-19 Target Reduction Lists.”

  • Case Management for people with IDD would go from 95% funding to 91% funding. This includes all Brokerage Personal Agent services, and all Community Developmental Disability Program (county IDD program) service coordination. Again, we will explore who this might impact and how in a separate post (to be released soon).
  • Residential providers would no longer be compensated for nights an individual might spend away from home, on vacation, in the hospital, or for a planned visit (this is referred to as“bed-holds”). This is essentially a rate cut for IDD service provider agencies, who are already hurting and unable to recruit and retain staff due to low rates. An example, to illustrate: when a person breaks a bone and must be hospitalized, their group home will not be paid to keep the room open for them. Some agencies, strapped by years and years of flat rates, will have to make the impossible choice to fill that spot with another waiting individual. When the original person is released from rehabilitation from their injury, they will not be able to return home.
  • Region staff who provide important Crisis services and training supports would be eliminated. Regions play an important role behind the scenes. They help coordinate transitions from a person’s family home to a group home or foster care, when necessary due to an urgent situation. They also provide training in some parts of the state on the Oregon Intervention System, and even perform Behavior Support consultations in situations where it is critically needed. Some of these functions would be eliminated along with the Region staff. Other work would be redistributed to Brokerages and Community Developmental Disability Programs (county IDD programs), with no funding.

    The Oregon legislature is ultimately responsible for approving the state budget.

  • Eliminate the Family Support Program. This is a program that has been whittled down extensively by budget cuts in previous bienniums. It addresses the unique needs not covered under the Community First Choice (K) Plan, that arise when caring for a child with IDD. Through the family support program, families determine what they need most, and with more flexibility in how to meet those needs. It’s a small program with small funds, covering big needs.
  • Close three of the Eliot Homes, run by the state’s Stabilization and Crisis Unit for people with medically intense needs. These individuals would be transitioned into community homes, to be supported by community-based agencies, PSWs, family, or likely a combination of several care sources.

This is a short but dense list. There is a lot to be known about the impacts of these reductions on the IDD community. In our effort to keep people informed, we will release two more posts in the coming days exploring the proposed cuts to Eligibility and Case Management. All of the reductions on this list would be a loss for Oregon. But it is the cuts to Eligibility and Case Management with which Brokerages have the most direct experience, and so we will draw out and examine the impacts of these cuts on Oregonians.

If this list affects you or someone you care about, you can contact your local lawmakers to let them know. Go to the Oregon State Legislature webpage and scroll down to the lower right-hand side to see the field entitled “Find Your District and Legislators.” Once you know who to talk to, you can email, call, or request an in-person appointment to discuss your concerns. The way to make your best impression is to calmly and succinctly share how these reductions would affect you in your life. Our lawmakers are doing their best to find ways to save money and keep the critical services and resources that people need. By providing a brief explanation of how this would impact your life, you are giving him or her the context needed to make an informed decision about the budget.

For fantastic advocacy tips and great information, we also recommend following the IDD Coalition’s GO! Bulletin, a product of the GO! Project. You can find the Go! Bulletin, lots of resources for legislative advocacy, and fact sheets at the IDD Coalition website.