NAVIGATION

Media Advisory: Proposed Budget Cuts to Disability Services Not Responsible Course of Action

05/19/09


Randolph, Mass. — The Senate’s proposed FY10 budget, which includes $115 million in cuts to disability services, directly impacts the health and well-being of 21,000 individuals with disabilities and their families. The budget was released recently by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

As one of Massachusetts’ largest nonprofits, May Institute has a long history of serving some of the state’s most disabled and behaviorally challenged individuals, and understands the potentially devastating consequences of the proposed cuts.

These cuts are not the best course of action. They would have negative and long-term repercussions, including:

  • The 8,000 adults in Massachusetts who currently receive services from Day Habilitation programs – some of the most severely disabled people in our state – would be abandoned. The intensity and necessity of these services are often misunderstood. Many of these individuals cannot carry out the most basic activities of daily living without assistance. Some have complex medical needs and receive nursing care as well as occupational, physical, and speech therapy while attending these programs. Others have significant behavioral issues, engage in self-injurious behavior, or are fragile elderly. All require a high level of care and support to ensure their health and well-being.

  • In addition to being harmful, these cuts would not be fiscally prudent. Programs such as the Day Habs are cost-effective, providing intensive services in a group setting and reducing the need for other costlier day services. Eliminating these programs, and others like them, will result in many adults being forced into more expensive, state-sponsored options. For individuals with no families to care for them, any semblance of a safety net could disappear.

  • There are also workforce implications. These programs employ a significant number of the state’s direct care workers who provide some of the most essential services to individuals with disabilities. The related costs associated with their loss of income (such as unemployment and health insurance) would be substantial.

  • Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the de-institutionalization of individuals with profound disabilities. Community-based services have long been identified as the most effective means of supporting these individuals and enhancing their quality of life. Cutting back or eliminating these services is counterproductive at best. The cuts would directly and severely impact the state’s most vulnerable citizens, and no viable alternatives are being presented.

Dr. Walter P. Christian, President and CEO of May Institute, played an important role in the de-institutionalization process in Massachusetts and across the country. “I trust we will not be so short-sighted as to cut the community-based programming we put in place decades ago in order to respond to a financial situation that is much more short-term,” said Christian. “We must send a send a strong message about our collective commitment to ensuring services for those least able to provide for themselves.”

Parents across the Commonwealth, like Marilyn Welsh, share Dr. Christian’s concerns about the dire consequences of the proposed budget cuts. Marilyn’s son, Andrew, attends one of May Institute’s Day Habilitation programs. “Andrew relies on these services to keep him safe and healthy, and to increase his quality of life and self-worth,” says Welsh. “Without this program, his safety and well-being would be in jeopardy.”

The challenges we face in Massachusetts in this current fiscal climate are sobering, and the projected revenue shortfall requires immediate and dramatic action on the part of our legislators.

May Institute believes, however, that the solution lies in responsible cuts coupled with increased state revenues. Balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable citizens in the Commonwealth is not the responsible course of action. It is critical that the Senate restore full funding to these crucial services.

About May Institute

May Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral healthcare needs. Since its founding over 50 years ago, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually. With corporate headquarters in Randolph, Mass., the Institute operates more than 200 service locations.

For information about May Institute, call 800-778-7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org.
 

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