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STATE PROGRAMS IN CURRY HEADED FOR CHOPPING BLOCK

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By BILL LUNDQUIST

Pilot Staff Writer

GOLD BEACH – If Ballot Measure 28 does not pass on Jan. 28, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) will have to cut $162 million from its budget, beginning Feb. 1.

Richard Whitewer, in charge of service delivery for the DHS in Coos and Curry counties, told members of the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) Monday what that budget cut would mean locally.

"The Curry County cuts relate to seniors and people with disabilities," he said. "A lot of programs will disappear. A lot will get reduced.

"The General Assistance Program is gone, along with some for the severely mentally ill."

To make matters worse, said Whitewer, the Oregon Legislature's Emergency Board made more cuts on Nov. 8 to fix the current budget problem.

Even if Measure 28 passes, he said, the latest cuts eliminated what funding remained to help county mental health services, law enforcement, juvenile justice and other local entities work together.

Funding was cut to state-operated crisis homes for people with developmental disabilities.

Most of the system of care resources was eliminated for services to children and their families.

Oregon Health Plan (OHP) coverage was eliminated for dental care, alcohol and drug treatment, and durable medical equipment and supplies for adults receiving standard OHP coverage.

More cuts will have to be made Feb. 1 if Measure 28 doesn't pass, including the following for DHS services in Curry County:

Hospital reimbursements

Medicaid fee-for-service reimbursements to Curry General Hospital would be reduced by $96,907.

Services for seniors and people with disabilities

Cuts would eliminate the General Assistance Program, which provides cash grants of about $300 monthly for 16 people in Curry County who can't work due to long-term disabilities.

They would eliminate Medicaid long term care for 175 people in Curry County in survival priority levels 5-17 who require substantial, or 24-hour, help with eating, mobility and other daily needs.

Cuts would reduce average monthly rates paid by Medicaid to assisted living facilities for 31 people, and to nursing homes for 28 people in Curry County.

Mental Health and Addiction Services

Cuts would reduce community mental health treatment and medication for 72 adults and 37 children in Curry County who are not eligible for Medicaid.

Services for people with developmental disabilities

Cuts would eliminate non-24-hour care for 25 children and adults with developmental disabilities covered by the Staley agreement.

Statewide, more than 5,000 people would lose services as 10 regional Staley agreement brokerages, employing 750 care providers, were closed.

Whitewer said those brokerages have filed an injunction to block the closures, but Curry County Human Services Director Deb Wilson said she'd heard the state will fight the injunction in court.

Services to children and their families

Cuts would reduce special rates paid to foster parents of seven children in Curry County with medical or behavioral problems.

Cuts would reduce funds for treatment programs for troubled families, including parent training and family sex abuse treatment, dropping one Curry County child from the program.

Cuts would reduce the average monthly payment to foster parents of children who have been temporarily removed from their family homes due to abuse, neglect, or parental inability to provide care, dropping one Curry County child from the program.

Cuts would reduce payments to 35 Curry County families facing the extra costs of caring for adopted children with abusive backgrounds, behavioral problems, fetal alcohol syndrome and other special needs.

Public Health

Cuts would eliminate $1,257 in state support to the Curry County Public Health Department for the investigation and control of communicable diseases.

Self-sufficiency programs

Cuts would reduce JOBS program contract and support services that help low-income people become employed. Three Curry County people would be dropped from the program.

Cuts would eliminate the eligibility of six Curry County people for Employment Related Day Care benefits, and increase monthly co-pays for 53.

Cuts would reduce the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare grant by $5 a month for 108 people in Curry County.

Oregon Health Plan

Depending on federal approval, cuts would reduce medical benefits for all OHP-eligible Oregonians, or eliminate OHP coverage of pharmaceutical drug costs.

"It's our community members, our neighbors really, being affected by this," said Whitewer of the cuts. "Also, employers in the community.

There is an incredible domino effect."

"People are limping along with these programs, waiting for Social Security benefits, he said. "They (the programs) are now gone."

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