Thursday, January 21, 2010

The cost of cuts: Special reports from the Kansas Health Institute, Part 3

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Leslie Debrabander uses gumballs to coax her daughter, Abby, 10, into sitting still long enough to have her picture taken.
  • Leslie Debrabander uses gumballs to coax her daughter, Abby, 10, into sitting still long enough to have her picture taken.

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson says the state faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression -- and it's not over. While

we're waiting to see how the math whizzes in the state legislature deal with the problem, the journalists at the Kansas Health Institute are doing some great reporting on how state budget cuts are likely to hurt real people. So far, we've recommended Dave Ranney's stories "Waiting lists for state services expected to grow" and "Man wants out of nursing home." Here's another excerpt from Ranney's series.

OLATHE -- About five years ago, Leslie Debrabander invited a woman from Johnson County Developmental Services to her home to talk about the possibility of getting services for her daughter.

Abby Debrabander, then age 5, has multiple physical and developmental disabilities.

"We talked about Abby and the services she would need and what was available," Debrabander said. "When we were through I asked her when she thought we'd get started and she said it would probably be seven or seven and a half years. I couldn't believe it."

Debrabander said she, her husband, or their two daughters, ages 15 and 12, must be with Abby, now 10, at all times.

Medicaid-funded in-home services would help them keep Abby in their home rather than placing her in a state hospital.

According to Ranney's report, the Debrabanders are one of about 1,074

Kansas families on the

state's waiting list for Medicaid-funded services for children with

developmental disabilities. About 1,200 adults with developmental

disabilities also are waiting for services.

"I don't understand this," Debrabander told Ranney. "I mean,

I know the state is short of money but they had money five years ago

and they didn't fund the services back then either. It's like they've

pushed kids like Abby to the side. It's like they don't matter. It's

frustrating."

Debrabander said she's tired of hearing legislators

promise to reduce the waiting list but then balk at appropriating the

funding.

"I challenge each and every one of them to spend a week in

my shoes," she said. "And Abby's easy. A lot of parents have it much

worse than we do."

Read the full story here.

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