As the Senate debates its FY’23 budget, effective July 1, decisions thus far have not reflected the toll on persons with disabilities. For example:
- The House needed to add over $70 Million to the Governor’s proposal just to get the DDS Day Services budget to 85% capacity (with existing rates) and other needed supports.
- The Senate Ways and Means also added to the disability-related line items.
- Neither branch, NOR the Governor have increased salary benchmarks through our state agencies or MassHealth adequately to address what is now a chronic workforce crisis “on steroids” in our field.
Is it that our disability services have gone from cost-effective to low-cost and marginalized?
In last night’s “transportation listening session” for HST, I was distraught over much of what I heard. But two stories come to mind – a professional who uses both the Human Services system (HST) and the RIDE. A simple observation tells much of the story: the RIDE drivers are professional and their vehicles were clean. He couldn’t say the same for the other system.
It makes sense to me that everything about our adult service system has been damaged during COVID and its aftereffects. Just as COVID severely affects or kills persons with underlying conditions, COVID may be grinding our community service system down.
A woman of 60 years can’t get to her day services for her main socialization except for once per week as the transportation carrier cannot get to her. She also misses Easter and other holidays with her extended family as they do not have a wheelchair van and transportation didn’t or couldn’t get there.
As the business world talks about “Mobilize, Stabilize, Strategize”[i]in response to the pandemic crisis, our ‘diverse and varied’ services, an extension of the state, did mobilize, only some (organizations and families) will stabilize, and none can strategize effectively without the partnership of the state’s decision-makers.
Please see the depth of our crisis and the undeniable thread that binds us together.
[i] PwC related site