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Cuts could limit services for disabled

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 1, 2008
— Those who provide services to Rock County’s developmentally disabled residents are carefully watching a federal debate over rule changes proposed by the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

The changes would cut federal spending on community-based services for children and adults with disabilities, said Marcia Jagodzinske, president of the non-profit Riverfront, 1107 Barberry Drive.


The House last week approved a bill that puts a moratorium on the rule changes until April 2009.


The bill has been placed on the Senate calendar. Sen. Herb Kohl’s spokesman Rohit Mahajan anticipates senators will vote on the bill this month.


President George Bush has said he will veto the moratorium, said Jerilyn Goodman, spokeswoman for Rep. Tammy Baldwin.


The cuts will save Medicaid $2.3 billion over five years, Jagodzinske said. Of the seven provisions in the cuts, she said, three could affect community-based services for children and adults:


-- The rehabilitative services option would “dramatically” reduce services to people who use Medicaid dollars for vocational and community living support, Jagodzinske said. The money helps people get and keep jobs and homes to support themselves, she said.


The change would take Medicaid money away from people who are qualified for—but not necessarily getting—money from the state or other sources, she said.


-- The school-based services option would cut funding for young people with disabilities who are transitioning from school into the work force, Jagodzinske said. A large piece of that puzzle is transportation, she said.


-- Changes to targeted case management regulations would cut funding for people transitioning from institutions into the community, Jagodzinske said. That’s not a fast process, she said, but getting people out of institutions saves money in the long run.


“We need to take the long view,” Jagodzinske said. “It’s better for people, and it’s less expensive.”


Baldwin last week voted in favor of the moratorium. In a statement, she called Medicaid a “safety net” that keeps millions of Americans from “joining the ranks of our nations 47 million uninsured.”


Rep. Paul Ryan last week voted against the moratorium. In a statement, he wrote that the fiscal path of American health care programs is unsustainable and postponing these “limited regulations would push Medicaid further away from solvency.”



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