Linda Howard’s note:  This is from an email I received this morning.  The first part of the entry contains comments  from Richard Stimson regarding the article.  I quoted the entire article but I also referenced it.  Go to the original article  to input your comments with the Miami Herald.

You know, it is like a horror movie, every time you think things have gotten as bad as they can, it gets worst.  This is the Miami Herald and they sound like they are supporting Governor Scott.

First statement in RED by Kingsley Ross – Is this saying agencies will stop providing services?  I got an email from another FARF person that said something similar.  It basically said at these rates services could not be provided in a safe way.

First statement in GREEN by Brian Burgess – Is this saying that these cuts are this bad because of what happen in the past?  I think so.  Also from reading the article it appears they blame all of the appeals too (see second part in GREEN).  I also find the word use of “neediest” interesting.  I do not think they are talking financially because all waiver clients are on Medicaid.  I think they are talking about a new way to prioritize who gets services.  What would that look like?  Folks in Group Homes?  What happens to those in supportive living?

First statement in PURPLE by Miami Herald – Makes it sound like Scott had no other choice.  He had to do this.  I would take this to mean that the paper thinks Scott is within his authority to do this as an Emergency Rule!

Linda Howard note:  This is an article is from the Miami Herald.  Here is the web address.  Go there to input your comments regarding this latest action:

 http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/30/2142265_gov-scott-to-call-for-deep-cuts.html#storylink=addthis

AGENCY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Gov. Scott to call for deep cuts at agency for disabled

A $170 million deficit in the agency that serves the most needy in Florida has left Gov. Rick Scott with a tough call.

By Marc Caputo

TALLAHASSEE — Due to a shockingly large deficit, Gov. Rick Scott is planning to invoke his emergency powers and make deep cuts to the rates charged by group homes and case workers who help the developmentally disabled.

Scott could announce a 15 percent rate cut as early as Thursday to close the $170 million budget gap in the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, according to lawmakers who were briefed Wednesday.

The deficit — which exceeds the agency’s spending authority by nearly 20 percent — is partly the legacy of lawsuits, poor planning by the Legislature and a nearly $20 million veto by Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, who starved the program of savings when he refused to trim provider rates last summer.

SYSTEM SHUTDOWN

Those who provide services to the nearly 30,000 Floridians with cerebral palsy, autism and Down Syndrome said they aren’t concerned with the origin of the deficit as much as the effect of deep rate cuts.

“This would be a catastrophe,” said Kingsley Ross, an advocate and lobbyist for Sunrise Community, a Miami-based group home operator.

For the past three years, Ross said, providers have shouldered rate cuts. They’re now operating on the thinnest of margins.

“The system can’t take this,” Ross said. “Eventually, we will have to cut jobs and reduce services.”

Scott’s spokesman, Brian Burgess, said the governor doesn’t want to harm the developmentally disabled. However, he said the state has put off tough choices for too long and the bill is due.

Burgess said paring the budget now will put the state in a better position to pay future expenses on the neediest. “Yes it’s painful,” Burgess said. “But we’re trying to alleviate the pain long term.”

Florida has a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, but federally created Medicaid-related entitlement programs can go into deficit from time to time if the number of recipients increases or costs for needed services rise.

The Legislature estimated that next year the entire state budget will have a $3.75 billion shortfall. So lawmakers are trimming programs.

Troubled by the deficit in the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Scott ordered an inquiry. The results of the investigation are scheduled to be released Thursday.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

The Legislature tried to cut the program for the developmentally disabled last year, but Gov. Crist refused. He vetoed a 2.5 percent provider rate reduction.

Meantime, lawmakers didn’t budget enough money for the program to account for the fact that thousands of recipients had sued to block a system of service reductions and cuts to the program.

When times were flush five years ago, legislators expanded the rolls of the Medicaid program by about 5,000 — a move that brought cheers from advocates for the disabled. They had fretted that about 15,000 developmentally-disabled people were on a waiting list but unable to receive services.

But the waiting list has only grown. Medical costs have increased. But state tax collections plummeted and then flat-lined.

Add all those factors together, and the deficit in the $850 million program for the developmentally disabled is about $170 million, according to the Florida House’s proposed budget. The budget proposes to fix this year’s deficit by shifting money from special accounts. But the Senate offers no such solution, leaving Gov. Scott few choices. Neither he nor his fellow Republicans want to raise taxes to fill the deficit.

Scott’s proposal to reduce rates by 15 percent should save about $34 million. The rest of the deficit would be plugged by shifting agency money and reducing the rates of South Florida providers who get slightly higher reimbursements.

Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who chairs the Senate’s health budget committee, and Rep. Matt Hudson, chairman of the House health budget committee, said they were briefed on the plan and support Scott.

 To record your input with the Miami Herald, please go to:  http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/30/2142265_gov-scott-to-call-for-deep-cuts.html#storylink=addthis

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