Cuts to private home care could put disabled in living centers - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Cuts to private home care could put disabled in state living centers

By Michael Slother - email

LEVELLAND, TX (KCBD) - Home health care patients with disabilities could be forced back into state facilities if proposed budget cuts go through. Those providing home care could also lose their jobs.

29 private health care providers assist more than 1,000 people in Lubbock and Hockley Counties. Junior and Coleman are just two of those.

They live in a house together in Levelland with nearly all the freedoms of independent living. If cuts go through, they could lose their care staff and their independence.

It was a normal day at the office for Coleman and Junior. They have Down syndrome, but it doesn't get in the way of making some of the most colorful shirts in Levelland.

Their care provider, American Habilitation Services, owns the T-shirt shop and pays them to work and learn skills needed for other jobs. They also take them to and from work every day.

Junior, Coleman, and one other person live together and do almost everything on their own. Caregivers rotate in shifts to help them take medications, prepare food, and do anything else they need at their home.

"I used to live in ICF homes," Coleman continued. "The ICF home is for 16 individuals. I didn't like it too well; there's no freedom there."

Sheryl Baker with AHS says the proposed cuts are between 29 and 34 percent. That percentage would devastate their ability to offer their services.

"They would either lose their services and go back to state-supported living centers at three times the cost. They'll end up in criminal justice systems or in emergency rooms," Baker said.

According to Baker, it costs the state $127,000 per year for care at a state-supported living center. Private home health care is able to offer more independent options for about $45,000 a year.

Coleman's room is full of guitars and music equipment. He plans to go back to school in August to major in music. He says a state living center is one place he'd rather not return to.

"I don't belong in a state school" Coleman continued. "It was difficult to live in a six roommate house."

Coleman, Junior, and their other roommate plan meals and chores, and they do nearly everything on their own. Two weeks ago, Coleman and Junior went to Austin to protest the cuts.

"The budget cannot be balanced against people with disabilities and the elderly and the people in our education system," Baker said.

"I've been hoping that they cut this bill because we need that budget here for our house," said Coleman

Baker knows the budget committee will have to reduce, but she urges the public to call their legislators to reduce the cuts. We have contact information below:

Congressman Randy Neugebauer:
611 University Ave.
Suite #220
Lubbock, Texas 79401
Phone: (806) 763-1611
Fax: (806) 767-9168

State Senator Robert Duncan:
1500 Broadway, Suite 902
Lubbock, Texas 79401
(806) 762-1122
(806) 749-2828 FAX
Toll Free (800) 546-9928

State Representative John Frullo:
4601 50th Street, suite 216
Lubbock, TX 79414
(806) 763-2366

State Representative Charles Perry:
4216 102nd Street, Suite 101
Lubbock, TX 79423
(806) 368-8037
Fax: (806) 698-8047

State Representative Jim Landtroop:
P.O. Box 1965
Plainview, TX 79073
(806) 288-0387

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