State cuts may lead to “musical beds” for frail, elderly Vermonters

Source: VTdigger.org, April 18, 2011, by Anne Galloway “The Senate Appropriations Committee is poised to vote the Big Bill out Monday afternoon. Sen. Jane Kitchel, D-Caledonia, said she will not make significant changes to the House version of the budget, which was largely based on recommendations from Gov. Peter Shumlin’s office. Kitchel said the cuts to human services programs will not be altered by the Senate, with one the exception: the Senate Finance Committee has placed a 0.8 percent assessment on dental claims that will raise between $300,000 and $400,000 in tax revenues. The money would be used to pay for substance abuse counselors in local high schools. Under Gov. Peter Shumlin’s original budget proposal, the positions were eliminated. The House split the baby on the deepest human services cuts. Programs for the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill were slated to be cut by 5 percent; the representatives cut these programs by 2.5 percent. The reductions come on top of previous reductions of $17 million (including matching Medicaid funds) over the last three years, according to advocates. The governor and the House also deeply cut services for elderly Vermonters. Advocates say the reductions are fiscally counterproductive. The Choices for Care program keeps elderly Vermonters out of nursing homes, and at the moment the program has a $7 million carry forward, according to Michael Sirotkin, a lobbyist for the Community of Vermont Elders. “Advocates are always challenged by legislators who say ‘if you want your cut restored, find us the money,’ Sirotkin said. “Well in this case, we have. And the beauty of it is, we don’t have to raise taxes or take from another worthy program to do so. The money is right there and it is money that was already appropriated exactly for these purposes. It’s a win-win situation for all.”…” Full Story: State cuts may lead to “musical beds” for frail, elderly Vermonters PDF of Story: State cuts may lead to “musical beds” for frail, elderly Vermonters

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