Thursday, July 1, 2010

DES notice to the disabled woefully inadequate

STATE CAPITOL, Phoenix – Despite the Department of Economic Security's awareness that devastating increases in cost of care would be coming since March 18 when the Governor signed legislation, the department only sent out notification to clients in residential programs on June 15. The cuts take effect today, July 1.

HB 2011 passed during the 7th Special Session reduced the amount of money a client can retain from thirty percent to twelve percent. This change results in passing on costs to disabled clients.

“The lack of notification to the disabled is shameful,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, Senate Democratic Whip. “The department has known for months that these changes were coming and the decent action would have been to notify the clients, many on fixed incomes, immediately that these cost increases were coming.”

The Legislature already cut all services except residential to these disabled individuals, and now has reduced the portion of their federal benefits not withheld from 30% to 12%, which will not even cover their medications.

Lopez was contacted by Ronald Schultz, the legal guardian of his fifty-year old adult son who lives in a group home resulting from a hit and run accident when he was 16. Schultz received a letter from the department on June 18 dated June 15 stating that the costs of room and board were increasing from 70 percent to 88 percent on July 1.

“As my son’s legal guardian I understand very, very well and I am very, very furious that they would even try to do something like this,” said Schultz. “My son, after everything is said and done if this is going to happen, will have $83.28 to deal with each and every month. Unfortunately, he has medication that doesn’t get covered completely.”

“Politics do not belong in any situation where it involves individuals who are disabled or children who cannot speak up for themselves,” said Schultz. “Politics has a place in our society, but in our society it is for the good and not for special interests.”

The legislation was part of the budget package passed on March 11 by the legislature, sent to the Governor on March 15 and signed on March 18.

“The governor and her departments have been talking about other legislation for months before the enactment dates so there is no excuse that people were given two weeks notice,” said Lopez. “This is just yet another example of her failed leadership and political posturing.”

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