This article was written by Rev. Richard Stimson, pastor and executive Director of Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  It was published in the October newsletter, Connecting Point. 

      Well, my brother got his Tier letter and we are left with some hard choices. The best I can tell, depending on whether my brother, Bill, has to pay for transportation or not, he will receive from the State enough money to pay for two or perhaps three days to go to his day program.

            Here is what I do not get. Before the Waiver, Bill lived in the group home and went to ARC five days a week. He was transported to his day program by SCAT. The State of Florida decided to draw down federal dollars by using the money they spent on Bill to match money from the federal government (45 percent State, 55 percent federal). This meant a major increase of money.

            Agencies were given a major increase in what they were paid, and we still have thousands of folks on a waiting list.  But my brother will get less than before the Waiver. Can we at least do no harm? The State of Florida used my brother’s funding and thousands of other people’s funding to receive a 55 percent increase in funding from the federal government.

            Now Bill is being told he will receive fewer services than he received before the Waiver. The State of Florida used Bill’s funding to draw down money from the federal government. We were told this would mean more services for Bill, higher pay for agencies, and more persons receiving services.

            Can we at least do no harm? The State of Florida used my brother’s funding and thousands of other people’s funding to get federal money. Now they keep the federal dollars but take services away from Bill. Why do the cuts have to be applied to disabled folks?

            Are State employees’ paychecks being cut to what it was before the Waiver? Are agencies’ executives being paid what they were being paid before the Waiver? Are agencies’ reimbursement rates being cut to what they were before the Waiver? Oh no! We can’t do that, but we can cut services to persons with disabilities to below what they received before the Waiver!

            As my brother told me, “I don’t like this. It’s not fair!”