Sequester and Medicaid overpayments affect special needs program funding and the dramatic cuts due to the lack of agreement between the Senate, the House and the President could not have happened at a worse time. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) looking for reimbursements for overpayments and reductions in federal aid, individuals with special needs in New York State are going to feel the hurt.
The National Council on Disability report estimates that the funding for Special Education will return to 2005 levels. The Council predicts the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will lose 28% of its funding, the loss of special education teachers and teaching assistant aides. Many school districts have laid off teachers already but will face even bigger budget deficits as they attempt to comply with state and federal regulations without funding.
Head Start programs that service children with and without disabilities will drop 70,000 children from enrollment nationwide. While the cuts to education are going to be severe, the 1.9 billion in cuts as part of the Housing Choice Voucher program is lost increasing the probability of homelessness. Cuts to the Department of Agriculture will affect the rural rental assistance to the very low-income people living in rural communities in areas such as Rensselaer and Washington counties.
As the funding is cut due to sequester, as a result of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report that stated CMS paid over $15 billion to New York State to which it was not entitled, CMS is looking for a repayment plan from New York State. Advocacy groups across the state are bombarding state legislators to remember people with disabilities and their needs. The times are dire and no one knows how New York State will meet the needs of people with disabilities with the effects of the sequester and Medicaid overpayments.
Congress and the President can still come to an agreement regarding budgeting strategies that would lessen the strain of the sequester. New York State, however, whether the cuts of the sequester are modified or not, is going to have to take great strides in looking at the way it administers its programs for people with disabilities.
Comments and thoughts can be sent to Pat Wright.