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Protesters Lobby for Developmentally Disabled

If the purpose of budget cuts is to limit spending, then California lawmakers may be making a big mistake. That was the central message yesterday at a sizable protest on the Capitol Building steps by people with developmental disabilities and the people who care for them.

“I do understand we have to meet our budget,” according to Nancy Dow Moody, CEO of Lifehouse, an organization supporting people with developmental disabilities. “But this doesn’t make any sense, because it doesn’t save any money. I just don’t think this [cutback] was well-researched. This just feels like it’s hurting people, and it’s not saving money.”

Most of the people in California’s Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) have severe disabilities, she said, and can only be moved to developmental centers, which are more expensive.

“If you want to save money, then keep the ICFs open,” Dow Moody said. “Our reimbursement rate is about $67,000 a year, and those same homes in developmental centers are about $300,000 a year.”

Now that Gov. Brown recently signed legislation to trim some funding for the program, there is one avenue of hope left, Dow Moody said.

She hopes to piggy-back onto AB 1415 by Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills). The bill is designed to exclude the Adult Day Health Care program from cuts ordered by AB 97, while it transitions through a complicated process to reinvent itself and secure a new federal waiver.

“We’re hoping to add our individuals to that [excluded] group,” she said.

AB 1415 bill is an urgency bill, which means it would need a two-thirds approval vote by the Legislature.

Governor Brown signed AB 97 into law, and it requires a 10% cut to the developmentally disabled program. If Dow Moody is unsuccessful in attaching ICF funding to the new AB 1415 and the cuts do go through as planned, she said that UCLA researchers have estimated that 5% of the state’s ICFs will close. That’s about 50 facilities across the state. “But we think [the number of closures] will be higher,” she said.

The dilemma is complicated by the recent closure of Agnews Developmental Center in San Jose, and the pending closure of Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, and a flood of new patients would overwhelm the existing centers, she said.

“If they can’t be moved to developmental centers, I don’t know what would happen to them,” Dow Moody said. “Many don’t have families. They’re really the most vulnerable of all of our clients.”

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