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December 17, 2010

State budget cuts would hit DD community hard

by Deena Winter

I skimmed through the list of legislative cut “options” and it seems as though many of the ideas would hit the poor, elderly and disabled pretty hard.
It also would seem to roll back much of the progress — or at least money being spent — to fix Nebraska’s broken system for helping developmentally disabled people. The lawmakers’ report admits some of the ideas would send more disabled and elderly people from their homes back into institutions — the exact opposite direction the feds have been pushing them.
Among the possible state budget cuts:
• Closure of the Hastings Regional Center.
• Elimination of Medicaid coverage for hearing aids for adults. Savings: About half a million dollars.
• Elimination of meals under the Aged and Disabled Home and Community- Based Services for adults.
• Elimination of state aid to the Disabled Persons & Family Support Program, which helps families keep family members in their homes. The report says this could result in “a significant number of these individuals” going into institutions for care — exactly the opposite direction the feds have been pushing Nebraska. Savings: $910,000.
• Elimination of state aid for Title 20 Aged and Disabled Services, which help elderly and disabled people stay in their homes. This would eliminate chore services, home-delivered meals, non-medical transportation, congregate meals, and adult day care for approximately 9,600 recipients. Some individuals would go into nursing homes if they lost these services, the report says.
• Reduce the unallocated Developmental Disabilities Waiting List appropriation by $2.5 million. Due to the influx of new individuals in services, Service Coordination is already at maximum capacity.
• Require counties to pay for county court employees — repealing a 1972 law and saving the state an estimated $17 million, but shifting the costs to county taxpayers.
• Furlough all judicial branch employees for 10 days in 2012-2013.
• Parole more than 1,000 prisoners, to reduce guard staffing in prisons, saving $12 million.
• Eliminate $11 million in aid to counties for the next biennium.
• Eliminate the regulation of limousine service (no I am not making this up) saving $74,000.

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