Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Budgets, and Bodies

There was an interesting piece published recently in the Chicago Sun-Times. We all know nearly every government agency has taken a budget hit over the past few months. "It's the economy, stupid," to quote one of the instigators of this mess, Ronald Reagan.

But governments provide services, one of which in Illinois is paid attendant care for people with disabilities who need such to live independently -- and productively -- in the community.

Read the piece here.
Michael Ervin is waiting to find out if he will be able to get out of bed Wednesday morning.

That's what this state budget crisis means to him and thousands of other residents in Illinois.

Ervin is a Chicago playwright, free-lance writer and community activist. He also happens to be physically handicapped. Without the help of a home service aide, paid for by the state's Department of Human Services, he can't get out of bed.
This local-to-Illinois crisis reflects the need for the incorporation of the Community Choice Act of 2009 into national health care reform.

The uninformed might say, "A nursing home or other institution is the place for people in such circumstances."

That's wrong, both from a civil rights point of view and from an economic point of view. The cost of the attendant care Ervin needs is probably half the cost of incarcerating him in a nursing home -- a place where his life would be regulated rather than productive.

There is a place for nursing homes in our society, but a nursing home is not the place for every person with a disability who requires attendant care.

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