Home > Uncategorized > Trying to make sense of DDS’s budget numbers

Trying to make sense of DDS’s budget numbers

It’s hard to figure out what to make of the administration’s spending decisions when it comes to providing services to people with intellectual disabilities in Massachusetts.

On the one hand, since Fiscal Year 2009, the administration and Legislature have cut most community-based line items, including adult family supports (26.9% cut), community transportation (17.6%), community day and work (3.8%), Turning 22 (35%).

Not suprisingly, the developmental centers line item in the budget has been cut since FY 09 by $45.4 million, or 24.2%.  (In fact, based on a set of numbers provided by the Department of Developmental Services, the budgets of the Templeton, Monson, and Glavin developmental centers alone were cut by almost 70 percent between FY 09 and FY 11.)

Yet, at the same time, the community residential line item (which funds contract-based care in privately operated group homes) has been raised since FY 09 by $182.2 million, or 32%.  In addition, the state-operated group home line item has been boosted by $27.4 million, or 19.9 percent, in that time.

 These two community residential and state-operated group home line items have been boosted by a total of $209.6 million, while the cuts have totaled $87.4 million during the same period (not counting the planned phase-out of funding under the Boulet lawsuit).   The bottom line is the grand total of all DDS line items is $34.6 million higher in the current fiscal year than it was in FY 09.

What exactly has been going on here?  We’ve asked DDS for information on where residents of the developmental centers targeted for closure have been transferred.  We don’t believe very many residents have opted to live in privately operated group homes.  So it remains a mystery to us just why the administration has needed to boost the community-residential line item by more than $180 million.

It’s true there are potentially thousands of people waiting for community-based residential care.  But if indeed more than $180 million in new state dollars have been put toward accomodating people waiting for residential services, why has the administration been cutting funds for transportation, day programs, family support, Turning 22 and other programs for those same people?  

It would seem that had the administration pared back the increase in the community residential line item to a modest $100 million increase since FY 2009, they could have prevented the cuts in the other community line items at at least held them harmless.  It’s strange because the administration’s funding decisions have left it open to the charge from the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers that the administration has failed to back its “professed interest in Community First,”  an initiative intended to boost community-based services choices and spending. 

In the meantime, DDS has denied a request by COFAR for records detailing community-based costs of a particular community-based residential program.  We’ve been seeking to compare costs and services under this particular contract with the budgets of the Templeton, Monson, and Glavin Centers from FY 2009 to the present. (We don’t believe that the cuts in the developmental center budgets will save money in the long run because these same services must be funded in community-based accounts if they aren’t funded under the developmental center budgets.)

We asked for both a breakdown of the Templeton, Monson, and Glavin budgets and records detailing the costs of medical, nursing, clinical, and therapeutic services provided to residents of the group home program.  In a letter dated October 23, DDS’s general counsel stated that the documents we requested concerning the group home program are part of DDS clients’ records and are therefore exempt from disclosure.

COFAR has appealed the denial to the state Division of Public Records, arguing that we are not seeking information that identifies any specific individuals.  What we want to find out is which agency or agencies both fund and provide the medical, nursing, clinical, and therapeutic services under this contract, and how much these services cost state taxpayers in total. 

We believe DDS can provide the information we are seeking without violating the privacy rights of the individuals in this program.  Should DDS refuse to provide this information, the public will have no way of knowing basic details about the provision and cost of these kinds of public services.

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  1. Lynne
    November 15, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Trying to find information on the services provided by day habilitation centers. I am specifically looking at research on their effectiveness in the different service areas in the state.

  2. Sue
    November 16, 2011 at 2:03 am

    Its difficult to make any sense of these numbers, increases/decreases or the logic. I know I can’t.

    Its ridiculous, but not surprising, that DDS legal cousel suggests that individual’s privacy would be compromised if the information you requested is provided. What a bunch of BS! DDS constantly uses HIPPA laws as a very effective “shield” to avoid providing any detailed information about ANYTHING they are doing.

    Based on the items that were cut, it seems DDS’ has just 2 priorities: (1) making sure individuals are placed in homes in the community and that they just stay home; (2) if individuals are home with family, that they just stay home too.

    On a previous blog, one of the posters gave the perfect name for this– “Community Farce”.

  3. Sheila Paquette
    November 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I am very grateful as a sister and legal gaurdian that these questions are being raised in a formal/legal and professional manner. The “rules” around money and contracts are very unclear. No wonder DDS gets away with it, most of the folks they “support” can not speak.

  4. November 30, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks to information that I read on your blog, I requested the certified copies of the Residential Care Cost Reports for supported living agenices in our area. This was not only enlightenting but gave us facts to use which prove issues that we have been trying to communicate.

    1. The acuity level of those residing in supporting living arrangements tends to be much lower (based on “Residents hours per day”) than in habilitation centers.
    2. Food, rent, medical, therapies, nursing, pharmacy, dietary services, habilitation and more which are part of the comprehensive package of the habilitation center are not covered in the cost of care of the supported living homes.

    If a residential habilitation center has 24 hours as their resident hours per day (which I would sayall residents require) the supported living agencies claim 3.8-17 resident hours per day. Even at this lower acuity, the cost of care is higher than in the center and if one were to adjust for the acuity, the difference is astronomical in some situations.

    This is the infomation that our legislators do not receive and need to be educated on. They hear that the residents in the supported living homes have the same acuity as the residents in the centers – far from it.

    For more information and charts on this from King County, Washington, you can see them on my website at http://www.becausewecare1.com

    • December 5, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      Glad our post was of help. We’ll check out your cost information. Thanks!

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