In the wake of what they called "dramatic" reductions or elimination of services to Idaho's most-vulnerable citizens, the Consortium for Idahoans with Disabilities plans to have a very tangible impact on the 2012 Idaho Legislature this Friday with its Disability Advocacy Day.
“It's about getting out there and letting legislators hear our stories,” said Medicaid Matters in Idaho representative Richelle Tierney. “We're looking to restore, rebuild and renew some of the budget cuts that were made in House Bill 260.”
The 2011 Legislature passed H.B. 260, cutting $35 million from the Medicaid budget, resulting in the loss of almost double that amount when matching federal funds evaporated.
“H.B. 260 came from recommendations that different organizations had made as temporary fixes in the state budget as a result of the bad economy.” Tierney explained. “These cuts were never meant to be permanent; however, there is a possibility of that happening.”
In the shadow of the economic downturn, Idahoans with disabilities and mental illnesses are in danger of losing more services that ensure their independence, according to the Consortium. Friday's Disability Advocacy Day is geared as a platform for the "voices of the sufferers" to reach lawmakers.
“We [Medicaid Matters] are working at all ends to make sure necessary services are in place” said Tierney. “It is always nice to have funding we can work with.”
The day of advocacy was timed to coincide with Friday's public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget, when the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will take citizen testimony on the new spending plan.
In 2011, more than 1,000 people came to the Statehouse to participate in the Medicaid budget hearing and 400 were given an opportunity to speak.