According to a preliminary finding from the Program Review and Investigations (PRI) staff of the Connecticut General Assembly, the State of Connecticut has more individuals, other than New York, classified as having developmental disabilities in state-administered facilities. The cost of this is more than double the price tag of contracting the same services from private group homes. The full report from the PRI staff is expected to be completed at the end of the calendar year.
These alarming figures were presented at a public hearing before the legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee on September 27th at the State Capitol. State Rep. T. R. Rowe (R-123) Trumbull, co-chairman of the committee expressed a sense of urgency over the incredible disparity of service cost.
“The cost difference is sobering,” said Rep. Rowe. “The state facilities handle about a quarter of the 4,500 people who need these facilities and the cost disparity seems to be associated with labor costs.”
State Rep. Tony Hwang (R-134) Fairfield and Trumbull, who testified before the committee with Martin Schwartz, President and CEO of the Kennedy Center, advocated for the most cost-effective approach that maintains the highest level of quality care for these vulnerable citizens.
“This preliminary finding establishes, rather firmly, that residential care for people with intellectual disabilities is far less expensive when handled by the private sector which maintains the same standards of care and patient safety,” said Rep. Hwang. “We need to bring the government sector in line with the private care providers, while balancing costs and maintaining high quality patient care.”
Rowe and Hwang noted that the disparity also presents other problems – namely that the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now have more exacting standards for states to have a standardized rate-setting system and to provide choices to consumers of the services. That means the $747 million in federal funding the state receives from the government could also be in jeopardy.
“The goal here is to bring parity to this severely skewed system and preserve federal support,” added Rep. Rowe. “Without those funds we would have significant challenges in providing quality care for the developmentally disabled.”