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|In-home care providers complain about funding cuts|
Two local men involved with in-home support care for elderly and disable residents fear recent state budget cuts will negatively impact thousands of people in Louisiana.
Marcus Beckwith and Russell Mims of D&D Community Connections of Monroe have begun a campaign to inform people about what could happen to the service for the elderly and the disabled if some level of funding is not restored.
They have met with Monroe city leaders and other officials about the issue. Meetings also are being held at D&D Community Connections on North 9th Street in Monroe to inform the public about the matter.
The next meeting will be held 10 a.m.- noon, Wednesday, Aug. 20.
In the meantime, Beckwith and Mims plan to continue meeting with local and state officials to drum up support for their cause.
Mims said in-home support providers face a 6 ½ percent decrease on reimbursement rates they receive from Medicaid.
"The state also cut client's hours, so when you equal it out, it's about a 50 percent cut across the board," Mims said. "We've already had some clients go from 80 hours a week to 50 hours, and we've had two elderly ladies' services cut completely after receiving this support for about five years."
Beckwith added, "For some, if they are receiving 80 hours a week this year, next year that will probably be cut down to 40 hours, and the next year maybe 20 hours. So, it's pretty drastic, and it leaves families who are receiving this support with a lot of questions on what to do with their loved ones."
In addition to the decrease in reimbursement rates, Beckwith said the job market related to in-house support services will be negatively impacted, too.
D&D Community Connections currently employs roughly 315 people, and Mims expects many will seek jobs in some other profession as hours are cut.
"We may lose half of our workforce, so this is not only hurting those with disabilities and the elderly, it will hurt the workforce here," Mims said.
D&D Community Connections and other in-home support providers allow elderly and disabled residents in northeastern Louisiana an opportunity to live at home and receive services from direct support professionals. DSPs assist residents with all activities of daily living such as housekeeping, aiding with community involvement, assuring clients' health and wellness and promoting social opportunities.
"Basically, they are an extended family member," Mims said.
Beckwith says there are 19,000 people in the state on waiting lists to receive in-home support in spite of openings at nursing homes in their area. He said many people would prefer to have the opportunity to receive the care and assistance they need at their own home than move into a nursing home.
"The cuts to provider agencies as well as cuts to individuals' hours of support will force a large majority of people to either stay in their homes with no assistance or be forced into nursing homes or group homes," Beckwith continued. "If they continue to cut us, pretty soon provider agencies of in-home support will be out of business. The bottom line is this is a business. We are advocating on behalf of citizens who need this support, but at the same time, this is a business and you have to be profitable in order to keep the doors open. They way they have cut us and the reimbursement rates, they are making it so that people who own agencies are getting out of the business.
"So people are left without these services. Where will they go? They have no other alternative than to go into nursing homes or group homes, and many don't want to do that.
"Our main concern is the people receiving this support. We just want to make sure that everything is fair, and right now we don't feel this is the case. We want to be able to give people what they need and want, and that's to be comfortable in their own homes. A large number of citizens in our state have shown they want this service around.
"This will affect a lot of citizens in this state, and it's a big issue, but no one is really talking about it."