Advocates hope other programs will fill voidTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The federal health-insurance program for the poor and disabled will no longer cover the cost of the extra help that people with retardation and other mental disabilities need to live on their own.
The decision has caused state officials to look for other means for about 5,000 people who need help writing checks, planning their days or catching the bus.
The services cost about $80 million a year in North Carolina. The federal government has been paying for most of the cost.
To get a better idea of how to deal with the change, the state agency that oversees services for the developmentally disabled has asked counties to count the number of people who use community programs and report how they use them.
"We’re trying to develop strategies so there is an alternative … for everyone," said Leza Wainwright, the deputy director of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.
Advocates and state officials say they hope that people who are severely disabled will get help under different programs under Medicaid. Others, however, may be left without government aid.
"If you have mild disabilities and are using these services, you might lose what little you’ve been able to achieve," said Lisa Poteat, a director of community supports for The Arc of North Carolina, which advocates for people with mental retardation. (more…)