Cutbacks may send some to nursing homes

October 22, 2009 (CHICAGO) Even though a number of state programs have received new funding, there is still talk of cuts. The state's home services program for people with disabilities aged 59 and younger is keeping a close eye on the funding situation. Without funds to support personal assistant services, people with disabilities will not be able to live independently in their community. Many may end up back in nursing homes.

When Cynthia Frazier had a stroke 15 years ago, she had to move into a nursing home.

" It changed everything, I needed help doing everything," said Frazier.

She then started using Access Living's personal assistant program and was able to move into an apartment with support from those PAs.

"Ora works three days and my other is Kanida and she works four days. So I have seven days a week, six hours a day," said Frazier. "They get me up in the morning, they do all my daily taking care of my daily living and everything. And they get me up and they cook for me, my breakfast and my lunch or whatever, which is usually my dinner."

The state wants to lower hourly service caps, which would be a challenge for more than 20,000 people with disabilities who received PA services, according to Gary Arnold, Access Living's public relations coordinator.

" What the service caps means is that it lets say you have a personal assistant, comes in to help out with cooking during the month, they were going to cap the service hours what they want to do is cap it at thirty hours a month," said Arnold.

In order to determine needs of services, everyone is being re-evaluated.

" It's a big challenge because potentially you can go into this evaluation and loose some of your service hours and that might have a significant impact on your life," said Frazier.

According to a state spokesperson, "the amount of time spent on daily tasks should really be no different for people with disabilities than those without."

Frazier has been reevaluated.

"And I thought it was going to be really hard because I thought they were really going to do some cuts but she told me that it seemed like I needed every hour on my hours so she left them like they were," said Frazier.

"We understand the State Illinois like many other states like the federal government right now is in budget crunch now we need to cut numbers somewhere but we want to work with the state in order to find a solution," said Arnold.

Organizations like Access Living are prepping consumers before their interviews with the state. Their goal is for consumers to maintain all of their services hours by demonstrating a strong need for services.

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