Randolph, Mass. – Today, May Institute welcomed Governor Deval Patrick to our corporate headquarters and main campus. We took the opportunity of his visit to show the Governor the work that our staff does every day to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable individuals in the Commonwealth.
We also expressed to the Governor our concerns about the latest round of cuts to the MassHealth budget, which he announced last week. We understand the difficult choices he has been forced to make to balance the state budget. But these cuts will have direct repercussions on the lives of more than 7,000 individuals with disabilities being served through the state’s Day Habilitation programs, on their families, and on the organizations that serve them.
While these cuts translate to more than a 20 percent reduction in services, they do not reduce the need for services or supervision; they simply reduce reimbursement to the providers who serve these constituents. They do not reduce actual costs to the provider, given the necessity of continuing to serve these individuals. And they add to the burdens of families facing the challenges of caring for adult children with significant disabilities.
These adults represent some of the most severely disabled people in our state. The necessity and intensity of the services they require 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 Day Habilitation 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 safety.
Roughly 30 percent of these individuals live at home with their families. The Day Habilitation programs provide critical support and respite, often enabling these families to keep their loved ones at home, versus in an alternative setting. A reduction in Day Habilitation services will put an added burden on these families, many of whom are already struggling to adequately care for these individuals in their homes.
The other 70 percent of the individuals in the state’s Day Habilitation programs live in state-funded residential housing. These programs will bear the brunt of filling these newest gaps in care, as many of these individuals cannot be left unsupervised. This further taxes the state’s residential programs, which have recently been informed of a separate wave of budget cuts.
Organizations like May Institute are once again being asked to subsidize the state. As one of Massachusetts’ largest nonprofits, we have a long history of serving some of the state’s most disabled and behaviorally challenged individuals. We are committed to continuing to do so – essentially providing unfunded services to fill these gaps.
While it is very difficult for us to continue to absorb these levels of cuts, we are fortunate to be large and diversified enough to be able to do so, at least for now. A number of smaller organizations will not be able to continue to adequately meet the needs of the individuals they serve, or will need to serve fewer individuals.
The challenges we face in Massachusetts in this current fiscal climate are sobering. We appreciate the enormously difficult decisions the Governor and our legislators must continue to make in the face of a significant revenue shortfall. However, the unexpected cuts to these services further erode the safety net which Massachusetts has so painstakingly woven to protect and care for some of its most vulnerable citizens.
We strongly encourage our state leaders and legislators to be responsible partners in identifying solutions to fill critical gaps in essential services.
About May Institute
May Institute is an award-winning nonprofit organization that provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral health needs. The Institute also provides training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems.
Since its founding over 54 years ago, May Institute has evolved into a national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually. It is one of the largest and most well-respected providers of services for individuals with autism and other special needs in Massachusetts and in the country.
With corporate headquarters in Randolph, Mass., the Institute operates more than 200 service locations in the Northeast, Southeast, and on the West Coast.