Hundreds rally in NC to preserve group homes

lbonner@newsobserver.comNovember 14, 2012 

About 200 group home residents, operators and advocates for disabled people rallied outside the Legislative Building on Wednesday to push for money to keep the homes open next year.

On Jan. 1, hundreds of group homes are in danger of closing because a stream of federal money helps keep them running is slated to be cut off. The state says about 2,000 people with mental disabilities will no longer meet new standards for personal care services funded by Medicaid.

Before the speeches started Wednesday, the crowd chanted "Save our homes," and "Our life is in your hands."

Adult care homes and about 10,000 of their residents face the same problem, but the legislature set aside $39.7 million to support adult care homes for six months.

Some advocates for mentally ill people want Gov. Bev Perdue to call an emergency legislative session so group homes can share in the rescue fund. The legislature won't get started with its regular work until Jan. 30.

"When you take away from the providers, we the consumers suffer the most," said Robert Bullock, 48, who lives in a group home in Cary.

Republican legislators want Perdue to scare up money from state Department of Health and Human Services accounts as a stop-gap for group homes.

"The governor needs to come up with funds within health and human services to help with the transitions in January and early February," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican. In discussions this week, acting DHHS secretary Al Delia said Perdue doesn't have the authority to do that.

As it stands, state administrators, advocates and legislators are talking up a 'clog the courts' strategy. This scenario has the administrative courts choking on the thousands of appeals from people who find out they're losing services. The courts will take so long to handle the cases that legislature will have time to find a solution. And while the appeals are active, residents would continue receiving services as usual.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service