Knowing that more budget cuts are coming down the line it is really time for our legislators and advocates to face the facts. We’ve listened to the rhetoric long enough and many have come to believe what they have heard – – but the truth has been misinterpreted too long.
When looking at costs for those with intense support needs we need to look at the costs for that population – not the average of the whole. These costs are dramatically different. We can all figure out very easily that when people share costs, the individual costs decrease – this is very simple to understand. Yet, when we are talking about sharing costs for those with developmental disabilities, this simple fact is totally ignored.
I do not hear any advocates saying that someone is “too disabled” to live in the community and I also do not hear the cost of those with intense support needs who choose to live in a community setting. So-called advocates do not want this talked about but a few of them have slipped out what their sons and daughters have cost our state to allow them the choice of community homes. Everyone should have the choice but also let’s be honest with what these choices cost – not only to the state but the individual themselves, their families and the local cities and communities.
1. One young man was able to live in the community with the help of 19 hours of nursing care a day for 17 years. His situation is talked about frequently to illustrate that those with high medical support needs can live in the community but the fact of his state funded 1:1 nursing care is never mentioned.
2. One young woman lived in a group home for a couple of years until it closed. She has lived in the intermediate care facility for about 5 years now and is getting ready to move out to a community home of her own. Our state has spent over $150,000 sound-proofing and remodeling this home that she will live in by herself – and two staff people 24 hours a day. She will have a male and a female staff person each of the 3 shifts 24 hours a day every day of the year. Her staffing costs alone will be over $265,000 a year. This does not include any other costs for her care in the community.
I understand these are two extreme examples but they are real examples of the level of care that those who live in the intermediate care facility could require if they chose to live in a community setting. When we are talking about downsizing the ICFs we need to look realistically at the costs and they will be astronomical if we even consider safe and appropriate care as a human right.
These are the types of costs that we need to look at when hard choices are made regarding state funds for where those funds will be applied. I will argue that denying those who choose the ICF/ID as their home not only denies that person but costs everyone in our state. The costs are not only dollar amounts but costs of quality of life – quality of life for the person, their family and our communities.
It’s time to face the facts and get real about the situation. Let’s stop the pretending – the pretending is certainly not beneficial to those we are trying to help.