human services budgets slashed
case in point: Kansas
by Lucy Gwin
If it can happen in Kansas, in spite of the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead decision mandating community integration, in spite of first-class advocacy and street-savvy activism, in spite of the power Kansas IL Centers wield with state politicians... Well, if the sky is falling here, it will soon be falling harder elsewhere.
One Kansas example: 55 percent cuts are slated in two crucial home and community services for seniors.
Unlike some other states, Kansas has many thousands of institution “slots” ready, slots emptied in the exodus to home and community which began in 1995. In the name of “state budget shortfalls,” people with disabilities will soon be herded, like another Kansas crop, cattle, back into slots
TOPEKA’S TOWN HALL MEETING ON THE STATE’S BUDGET SLASHING. ABOVE, MIKE OXFORD AND SHANNON JONES BREAK THE BAD NEWS TO A ROOMFUL OF CITIZENS IN MID-DECEMBER.
PHOTOS BY CAL GRANDY
• two items in one bizarre budget •
Kansas now budgets $350 million tax dollars for Medicaid nursing home services to 26,600 people. $120 million tax dollars provide in home services to 20,000 people in the two alternative Medicaid programs. According to an AARP study, nursing homes provide
an average of 1.9 hours of services per day. Kansas in-home services average 4.0 hours daily. “How about that!” Oxford howls at the comparison.
“Pay nearly triple the price to get half the services!”
in nursing homes and other congregate slaughterhouses. Oxygen, ostomy supplies, wheelchairs and even meals are now called “optional” in the community while they remain mandatory, and thus available, in institutions.
At a December 11 town hall meeting, Mike Oxford, director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center and Chair of the National Council on Independent Living, said, “It’s like the state is telling you to either call Jack Kevorkian or go to the nursing home!” A member of the audience, who later admitted to having worked at a nursing home, called out, “Same thing!”
Since services are more costly to taxpayers there than in the community, advocates consider the
MOUTH JANUARY -FEBRUARY 2002 PAGE 5