When funds for health and human services programs are cut, women are often doubly affected. That’s because some of us benefit from those programs, and many of us love someone who benefits from them and must pick up the slack when essential services vanish.
Here’s quick rundown of some of the cuts in North Carolina’s new two-year state budget that will affect women and families in North Carolina:
- The budget closes four of the state’s 16 Children’s Developmental Services Agencies, which provide support and services for families with children under the age of three who have disabilities.
- It also cuts funding for the state’s three Adult and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers by 12 percent.
- The state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which helps people who are HIV positive afford the expensive drugs that keep them alive, got an $8 million cut in state funding. The NC AIDS Action Network says that because of this cut; as many as 800 people have to go on a waiting list.
- The budget limits doctor’s visits for people receiving Medicaid at 10 per year, down from 22. It also lowers how much providers get for services, meaning more doctors will refuse to see Medicaid patients.
Another budget decision that could harm hundreds of individuals and families is the state’s failure to provide adequate funding for group homes that serve people with mental health issues. You can get the full story from NC Health News, but here’s the gist: the legislature changed the Medicaid rules last year, making these homes ineligible for an essential source of funding and putting them all in jeopardy of closing. Legislators said they need to study the funding problem and come up with a solution, and the group home operators asked for $10 million so they could stay open in the meantime. They got $4.6 million. That means all group homes will get less money than they did under the old Medicaid rules, and some will be likely have to shut down, throwing hundreds of residents and their families into crisis.
One group that came out a winner in the health and human services budget is children in foster care. The legislature provided $7 million over two years to fund adoption programs and to help find permanent homes for foster children. Officials say this money is needed to make up for “inevitable cuts in federal spending,” so whether this money actually expands overall funding for these services remains to be seen.
And another piece of good news – the NC Senate’s proposal to take money away from the Women’s Health Fund, which provides family planning services to low-income uninsured women, and give it to crisis pregnancy centers, which give women misinformation about almost every aspect of reproductive health, did not make it into the final budget.