State budget detrimental to those in need

Oak-Leyden Developmental Services has been providing services to people with developmental disabilities for over 50 years to help them meet life’s challenges and reach their highest potential.

Recently, Illinois legislators voted against a state tax increase. Without increased revenues, the proposed state budget will result in a staggering deficit of $8.5 billion. The cuts for disability and human services are now up to 75 percent of the governor’s proposed funding levels.

Despite a significant decrease in state funding to community agencies in FY09, Oak-Leyden was able to continue providing the services and supports through the reduction of overhead, the elimination of non-direct service positions, and the freezing of wages.

Without new revenue to cover the proposed deficit –

Children and adults with developmental disabilities are going to lose direct services;

Programs will be shut down;

Staff will be laid off – approximately 200,000 non-profit jobs will be eliminated, including 36,000 direct care workers;

Some community organizations, like Oak-Leyden, may go out of business.

The state of Illinois will no longer be able to afford even basic services for thousands of people with developmental disabilities. The impact on individuals with disabilities, their families, and the direct care workers who support them will be devastating.

Contact your legislators! Insist they advocate for funding for people with developmental disabilities so they can continue to receive the supports they so crucially need. Reinforce that Illinois already ranks 51st in the nation in funding for people with developmental disabilities.

Robert W. Atkinson
President, CEO
Oak-Leyden Developmental Services
Oak Park

Cost of health care

If you follow the debates about health care reform you hear a blizzard of conflicting stories about costs and benefits. There are two facts from which every discussion should start.

1. According to a Kaiser Foundation study using 2003 data, the U.S. pays way more per person than Western Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan – $5,700 vs. an average around $3,000. My sample of 18 other countries all have universal health care. For example, the U.K. pays $2,300 per person.

2. Those 18 other countries have better health care systems. According to the WHO’s most recent 2000 ranking of health care system quality, the U.K ranks 18th between the Netherlands and Ireland while the U.S. ranks 37th between Costa Rica and Slovenia. Those 18 cheaper countries with universal care all rank better than us.

The uninsured in the U.S. might be lowering our ranking and increasing our per person cost because without insurance they might wait for health problems to get serious, and expensive, to fix.

When somebody tells you how expensive Obama’s public option is, or cites anecdotes about how you have to wait for a hip replacement in Canada, make them explain how the U.K is twice as close to the top of the WHO list at less than half the cost.

Frank Hansen
Forest Park