SOUTH KINGSTOWN – At the Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center in Wakefield, many members dedicate their time to volunteering in the community whether they help deliver bread to people in need or volunteer for Meals on Wheels.
However, the work these members do to make a difference in the lives of those around them may change after the state proposed a $600,000 cut in funds to the LaPlante Center, a budget decision that will directly impact the programs that allows the center to provide volunteer and work opportunities to its members.
The Adeline LaPlante Memorial Center, at 126 Willard Ave., Wakefield, provides social and developmental rehabilitative services to the developmentally disabled in Washington County. It currently provides home-based services, including nursing, psychological, occupational and physical therapies to individuals with autism, developmental disabilities or mental health needs. Part of the programs the center provides is training to teach members how to work in the community. As of July, the center supports 120 adults that come for day support, 60 of whom work in the community part-time.
The LaPlante Center is one of eight agencies that provide services to people with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities that are impacted by a proposed rate change included in the $7.7-billion state budget set to take effect Oct. 1. The measure is just one of the many spending cuts the General Assembly adopted to close the $300 million budget deficit this year. The rate change will save the state about $10 million, but reduce state reimbursement to the agencies by an average of 11 percent.
With funds steadily declining since 2006, the LaPlante Center, along with the other seven developmental-disability providers is not taking the rate change lightly. They have filed a lawsuit, arguing that the state has not obtained proper federal authority to implement the rate change. The agencies argue that the state has violated Medicaid law by imposing cuts without going through the appropriate process by notifying the Center of Medicare Services and seeking approval if the cuts impact the services.
“They haven’t notified for these cuts in October and certainly haven’t gotten approval,” Executive Director Edward McDermott at the LaPlante Center said. “As a provider agency, it feels like the state administration is at war with the private non-profit sector.”
“I don’t believe it’s rational,” McDermott said. “Since 2006, there’s been a downward spiral and this breaks the camel’s back.”
McDermott said that from July 2010 to July 2011 state aid has decreased from $278,000,000 to $238,000,000 or by $40,000. For the FY 2012 state budget, new cuts to services for people with developmental disabilities was $24 million. This equals $37 million in cuts to services and supports since 2008, an 18 percent reduction. Services to people with developmental disabilities in the state make up three percent of the state budget. However, this year, they make up 12 percent of total state budget cuts.
For more information, pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.