Some 15 years ago, in response to the Supreme Court edict known as the Olmstead Decision, the Legislature of Kansas determined to close most of the state institutions and to transfer the patients living there back to the community. This was an admirable decision in that it gave handicapped people an opportunity to grow their potential and enjoy a more satisfactory life.
At the time, according to the money crunchers, it was determined that this action would also cost less than keeping the institutions open. These community institutions have done an admirable job despite the fact that they had to spend a good deal of time every year in lobbying the Legislature for the needed funds to operate. The whole project has been under-funded, over-worked and over-regulated. Reams of paperwork are required annually in order to comply with all the regulations and, if any errors are found in that paperwork, even years later, some funds can be required to be returned.
Now that we are in a recession, it is easy for the Legislature, true to its attitude that “money is more important than people,” to see fit to further cut the meager funding that is the very lifeblood of these non-profit organizations. No-body involved in the work of caring for these unfortunate people, not the administrators or the supervisors, and certainly not the personal care attendants who labor daily at the hands-on work in which they are engaged.
They all do it not for the money but because they realize the importance of the work in which they are engaged. All suffer under this unconscionable restriction on their ability to continue to provide more care for less remuneration.
It is a given that these are “hard times” but, for these innocents, life has never been anything but “hard.” However, what has been minimal care must become even less in order to prevent the raising of taxes from those who can afford it. The handicapped and mentally disabled are certainly at the bottom of the human food chain and qualify in the Bible admonition that we so often quoted and so frequently ignored, “As ye do to the least of these …”
Yates Center, Kan.
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