The legislature’s Human Services Committee today unanimously passed legislation which would form a task force to study the privatization of group homes. Representative T.R. Rowe (R-123) and Representative Tony Hwang (R-134) both testified before the committee in favor of the legislation earlier this month.
The legislation, Raised Bill 5245, An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study the Privatization of Group Homes, would include in the study a comparison of group homes that are operated by non-profit private providers licensed by the Department of Developmental Services. It would examine resident population, staffing levels, levels of care, operating costs, as well as the impacts of state labor contracts on costs.
The legislation could assist organizations like St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Kennedy Center by allowing equal access to funds. Both Representatives noted that there are significant savings to be had through the privatization of group homes.
“According to a 2005 Report of Auditors of Public Accounts, the cost of care per person is $131,898 in public sector versus $29,081 in private sector,” said Rep. Rowe. “The non-profits do a magnificent job of providing for those with special needs and disabilities at a fraction of the cost. The state could save hundreds of millions of dollars by shifting over to the non-profits.”
“Our first consideration is to emphasize the task force is necessary to study the possible fiscal and operational efficiencies of critical governmental social services,” said Rep. Hwang. “–We need an apples-to-apples comparison to fully understand those differences and to ascertain if they are necessary. We owe it to the people who use those services, to the taxpayers of this state. We in government need to, and indeed are forced to do more with less money.”
Dr. James McCreath, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Vincent’s Hospital said “The creation of a task force to study the privatization of group homes is reasonable given the State’s fiscal crisis. Every option should be explored.”
“The fiscal challenges presently confronting the State of Connecticut require our state government to seek the most cost effective means of providing quality services to individuals with disabilities,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of the Kennedy Center. “I am pleased that the state Department of Developmental Services has already initiated the privatization of 17 state run group homes at an estimated savings of $5 million dollars and I strongly endorse the establishment of a task force to study the further privatization of group homes. I am confident that the study and recommendations of the task force will result in considerable savings to the state while ensuring the maintenance of the highest quality of services for our citizens with Intellectual Disabilities.”
“On behalf of St. Vincent’s Special Needs Center and the many not-for profits in the State of Connecticut who care for the needs of people of all ages with physical, medical and cognitive disabilities, I want to acknowledge Senators John McKinney and Anthony Musto and State Representatives T.R. Rowe and Tony Hwang for their initiative, courage and support of these important legislation to benefit and support local non-profits,” said Raymond Baldwin, Jr., President and CEO of St. Vincent’s Hospital Special Needs. “This bill will not only allow all of us to continue our very worthwhile and necessary mission but will, in the process, save the State of Connecticut hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when the State could desperately use it. Their efforts embody what true ‘public service’ is all about and we are grateful to them.”
The measure will now move to the floor of the House of Representatives for action there. this session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns midnight on Wednesday, May 5th.
In the video below Rep. Rowe testifies before the Human Services Committee on HB 5245.