Oregon Rehabilitation Association‘s notice on the October 1st budget cuts to DD services:

The July Headline from the Emergency Board “Legislature Prevents Cuts to Senior In-Home Care and Services to People with Disabilities”, is actually a very partial truth:   HERE’S THE REST OF THAT STORY“Emergency Board Will Restore $17 Million out of $158 million in DHS Cuts”.

While the restorations to some limited services for people with disabilities by the Emergency Board were welcome, it is critical to note that only about 10% of the cuts were restored.   People with developmental disabilities (DD) who receive 24 hour support from community nonprofits are getting substantial cuts in October.

In total, over $33 Million will be slashed from DD budgets.  Some of Oregon’s most vulnerable people (over 3,000) will find that their support workers wages and benefits have been cut.  Many of these jobs are being eliminated completely and monitoring and quality assurance personnel are being cut as well.

The legislature simply did not have the funds to protect vulnerable people from these serious cuts.  Adding insult to injury, every dollar cut from state funds triggers the loss of two additional dollars in federal match.

Community nonprofits are under contract to deliver services that meet federal and state guidelines for health and safety.   Those requirements are not changing with these cuts, but the rates paid for their delivery are being reduced by 6%.  Providers have no choice but to reduce their labor costs, as over 80% of their budgets go directly to labor.

Will the system survive these cuts?  In the main, yes, although organizations may refuse to serve people who simply cost too much at these reduced rates – these nonprofits have nowhere else to go, as state rates are their primary (or only) source of support.

Our major concern is that these reductions have cut the DD system to the bone.  Following years with no cost-of-living increases, providers have already made the efficiency and other adjustments possible while maintaining the integrity of the DD system.   Any further cuts, like those predicted for the coming biennium, will result in a general system collapse, forcing the state to step in and provide these services itself at far greater cost than current expenditures.  Oregon has closed its state institutions; further reductions will destroy a community infrastructure of nonprofits built over the past forty years that would take decades to replace, if indeed it ever could be.

These people will not disappear; they will be cared for by the state, whether it is through contracts with the existing cost-efficient nonprofit system or a hastily thrown-together patchwork of very expensive public supports.

We urge the legislature and Governor to carefully consider long-term implications of any further reductions to services to people with developmental disabilities.

Questions?  Contact Tim Kral, Executive Director or Nan Heim, ORA Lobbyist, 503 585 3337.