Legislative Focus FY2008

FY’08 BUDGET PRIORITIES

During 2007, the Department of Mental Retardation will be submitting three to four new Medicaid Waivers in addition to the 24 hour comprehensive Home and Community Based Waiver now in place. This will translate into reimbursement for existing services that currently do not receive Medicaid funding.

FLEXIBLE FAMILY SUPPORT, Line Item 5920-3000

Providing flexible family supports to a family with a child or adult with multiple disabilities is considered one of the most cost effective programs in the Commonwealth. Other than a $500,000 increase in FY ’06, this program has been level funded for nine years. Approximately
fourteen thousand families receive some sort of support. Families report that it is this minimal support that keeps families from going into crisis. The Arc of Massachusetts and Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change request an additional $5,000,000,  bringing the total to $58,094,228. This will allow 1,700 additional people with disabilities and their families to be served.

TURNING TWENTY TWO, Line Item 5920-5000

Each year, a number of young people with severe disabilities age out of the public school system when they turn twenty two. Historically approximately 450 individuals moved from the locally funded school system to the state funded Department of Mental Retardation each year. Recently these numbers have increased dramatically estimated at 580 to 600 for 2008. Speculation about the increase may be due to the increase in autism as well as the number of children surviving complex medical conditions at birth. The Arc of Massachusetts and  Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change are requesting an increase of $2,000,000, from $8,500,000 to $10,500,000. This allows each graduate to receive $21,000 per year to cover employment or day programs, transportation and support services. Because some people require residential supports in addition to their day program, the cost per person varies widely. The annualization costs translate from $17,500,000 to $21,500,000.

WAGES AND HEALTH COVERAGE FOR DIRECT CARE WORKERS

The workforce issue for people receiving day and residential services has been a trying journey for all. Direct Care Workers receive approximately $10.50 per hour and turnover is constant. While providers have not received a cost of living allowance since 1987, they have been expected to absorb increased insurance and energy costs. The recent passage of Chapter 58, the new health care law, will mean additional outlays. The Arc is requesting an additional $20,000,000 allocation to adjust wages and health care compensation for personnel employed by private human service providers that deliver services contracted through the Department of Mental Retardation.

CLOSE THE LARGE INSTITUTIONS FOR PERSONS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES

Massachusetts continues to have six institutions for persons with intellectual disabilities serving approximately 1000 people at a cost of $172,000,000. Though admissions have been closed since 1975, the Commonwealth still has a huge infrastructure of outdated facilities serving a very small population of elderly individuals. These facilities are: Fernald in Waltham, Monson, Wrentham, Glavin in Shrewsbury, Templeton and Hogan in Danvers. It is important to move any savings into the community for clinical supports.

Legislative Focus 2007