H&W Cuts

Today we take testimony from the public regarding Health and Welfare cuts. Our governor, the voters and the majority of the legislature have clearly indicated that raising revenue, taxes, is not an option. So we must reduce what we spend. Heath and Welfare is the target.

Idaho is unique in the Western States in that we support developmentally disabled adults extensively in the community. Ten years ago these programs were funded as a cost-cutting measure. If we could keep these clients out of institutions, in the community, we could save the taxpayer money. 

These very programs are on the chopping block. When H&W presented this to our committee I asked them, if we cut this much, how many folks will end up in institutions? It’s just a matter of statistics, but they couldn’t say. We don’t really know how sharp are these tools we use. 

There are many programs for qualifying individuals. H&W pays for the treatment. Last week Butch Otter was in Cul de Sac for a town meeting. A woman got up to complain about the cuts to developmentally disabled programs. She was caring for her son in her home. He had meningitis as a child and was disabled. The proposed cuts would reduce her financial support from $110,000 a year to $86,000. She didn’t think this was fair. 

So we as a state and as a nation are at this place of conflict. How much can we ask our fellow taxpayers to give to care for those less able to care for themselves. And how often does such a policy create a demand? Can we as a nation have this discussion and strike a healthy balance?

I have received three dozen or more emails, phone calls, and letters about these proposed cuts. I always try to understand the motivation of the person sending the message. It’s not always clear. I will sit in the auditorium for the public testimony Friday. I will listen carefully.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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5 Responses to H&W Cuts

  1. Shirley Engerbretson says:

    My daughter works with the disabled and manages Medicare billing for hers and her husband’s transportation business, not to mention having a disabled daughter of their own. They transport the mentally and physically disabled to and from their day programs and/or places of employment. She has told me the following and I offered to write my representatives with the request that these cuts not even be considered. It is to the benefit of all Idahoans, whether directly or indirectly. In the long run, it will cost Idaho citizens more than it would ever have saved.

    She writes:
    They are suggesting cutting DDA centers (day centers providing developmental therapy), and transportation for medicaid clients to therapies and doctor’s appointments. They are also planning on cutting funding for providers caring for family member (not just adult children, but siblings as well).

    These cuts will make it difficult for care providers to hold another job, which is necessary for many of them, plus the disabled participants will be left at home, without valuable therapy to keep them moving forward in their development. While it’s true that many of these people aren’t going to show drastic changes in their development, many of them need to continue their programs so that they don’t stagnate and even take a backward slide.

    The cuts will also put up to thousands of people out of work, from employees of the centers to office staff coordinating these services, to transportation workers, to care providers who have to leave their other jobs. Many if not most of these people will begin to collect unemployment benefits which will cost the state money.

    These cuts are also programs which receive matching funds from the federal government. They will result in not spending the money on the services, but will also result in losing federal money which adds to the H&W budget. Therefore we will be losing money by cutting programs.

    There are many redundant and inefficient programs out there, but they would take some time and work to nail down, and I think they are going for the fastest biggest buck they can find right now. It’s a disgrace that they are picking on a population that is the most vulnerable and doesn’t have a voice.

  2. Helen Brown says:

    I am in great favor of raising tobacco taxes to off set some of these cut backs in education, health and welfare. Raising the taxes on tobacco is an effective way to reduce youth initiation of smoking, reduce tobacco use and increase tobacco cessation rates. Overall, reducing tobacco use will save the state money in medical expenses. Over 75% of Idahoan support increasing tobacco taxes.

    I know less about tax loop holes but I would hope our elected officials are seriously considering closing the loop holes I have read about in order to increase revenues.
    Thank you for your consideration of this perspective and I appreciate your service,

    Helen Brown
    Public Health Professional

  3. Amy Newsome says:

    I am very concerned about the proposed cuts to mental health for adults. Are we forgetting that many of these adults are parents? Who will take care of their children? Will more of these children end up in foster care and institutions? Does it make sense to save a dollar today if that “savings” costs us 100 dollars tomorrow?

  4. Donna Erickson says:

    The example of the woman in Cul de Sac needs more information to be effective. I’m a professional with a successful company. My job is challenging and demanding. I work very hard, and my employer has good benefits, but I don’t make anything close to $110,000, or even $86,000 a year. What are this woman’s expenses – – – does her son require medical supplies? extra doctor or hospital visits?

  5. Julie Fodor says:

    Dan, I would like to offer a counterpoint to the story you told of the woman in Cul de Sac. True, this one person’s perspective seems self-centered and off balance. But, sharing this one story seems to suggest that people wont be hurt by the cuts, and that indeed, maybe there are many people who view their Medicaid benefits as a right rather than a privilege. The truth is these cuts will have a devastating impact on many lives. People that live in our community with the help of Medicaid supports may not be able to continue living in their own homes or in their own communities. The many stories that were shared during testimony provide a much more accurate portrayal of the real needs. Highlighting one story about one woman’s unthoughtful comments provides an unfair picture of reality for those viewers who do not live with a disability, don’t have a family member with a disability, or who don’t work in the field. Just my two cents!! Thanks for the blog. It is fascinating.

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