With Medicaid facing $60 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, programs for the disabled such as what Faith, Hope & Charity offers in Storm Lake could face severe reductions in services.
FH&C staff held a press conference 11 a.m. Sunday morning to draw attention to the cuts proposed by President Bush in his fiscal 2006 budget proposal.
According to information FH&C CEO Tom Daniels and Development Director Mary Sorenson presented Sunday morning, Congress is expected to include Medicaid reconciliation language within the budget resolution. The language would tell the Senate Finance and House Energy and Commerce Committees to reduce federal Medicaid spending by at least $60 billion over the net 10 years. Although the President provided specific policy changes for those cuts, the budget resolution will only establish the size of those cuts, not determine the policy for achieving the savings.
That is why it is difficult just where the cuts would come from-and what would be mandated for change, Daniels said. He said 1,800 or more persons with disabilities could be impacted by the slated cuts with an economic impact of $38.2 million.
The Medicaid program is a joint federal-state partnership. States administer their own Medicaid programs under federal guidelines. The federal government provides a federal medical assistance percentage at rates varying from 50-83 percent, with the average federal Medicaid rate at 57 percent.
Two families who have family members receiving FH&C services were on hand Sunday morning to tell how they have benefitted from the organization's residential or community services program.
Dr. Troy and Grace Ivey, whose daughter Catie has received services in the FH&C residential program over the past year, have used FH&C services for the past 11 years. Dr. Ivey, who practices surgery in Storm Lake, said the family began with FH&C by using respite services and later the Supportive Community Living program.
"There certainly are some challenges," Dr. Ivey said of having a family member with disabilities. "It's unfortunate that people out there don't have a better understanding of that."
When Catie was 13 she moved into the FH&C residential program so the Iveys could devote time to their sons Bobby and Michael. The Iveys are grateful for FH&C. "They do have a special place in their hearts for our kids," Dr. Ivey said.
Grace said the family wanted to keep Catie at home as long as possible until she required the more specialized services in which FH&C specializes. "We very much baby-stepped until we took the big steps," Grace said.
"It's wonderful that we can visit her anytime we want," Dr. Ivey said. "She has so many more opportunities than she would have had in our house."
Paul and Joan Wilberding, whose daughter Abby receives FH&C respite services, were equally grateful for the services the organization provides. Abby's sister Bethany also received FH&C services before moving on to another facility. The Wilberdings' daughter, Katie, a psychology major at Creighton University, works at FH&C.
Paul Wilberding said the family has used FH&C community-based services since 1998.
"Faith, Hope & Charity has helped to keep our family together," Wilberding said. "It's been a godsend. They've always been helpful providing us the services. We can't say enough good things about the services we have received through Faith, Hope & Charity."
Daniels said Wilberding was helpful to FH&C in working with other parents.
"They helped in explaining their struggles which I think helped with a lot of other parents, " Daniels said. He also said FH&C tried to be an extended family to the families it serves.
"We're part of the family too," Daniels said. "We talk about a circle of love here and it's just spread all over. I'm very proud of what we do here and what we've done before."
Daniels also discussed his role as state representative for Iowa for ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources.
Daniels hopes to see Medicaid develop certain waivers to allow services such as those at FH&C to be more flexible.
"The program is becoming more flexible," Daniels said. "The rules are beginning to change for those who need the services."
Daniels said for every dollar spent on Medicaid that between $1.92 and $6.22 in federal money is returned in services for the disabled.
"Medicaid is a great safety net," Daniels said. With 45 million people in the U.S. having Medicaid as its only insurer, Daniels said Medicaid was not the cause of the current federal deficit.
"Those federal dollars allow those who need services to receive services," Daniels said. If federal benefits are cut, benefits may have to be cut or other funding sought, Daniels said.
While Iowa legislators have said the state will cover federal Medicaid shortfalls, according to Daniels, he said he will continue to work to make Iowa politicians at the federal level aware of the number of people with disabilities that Medicaid serves.