In-home care cuts tough choices for DHS, families

DHS may cut services over budget constraints

Debbie Jewell takes fulltime care of her brother , Tim. April 21, 2017 (KOIN)
Debbie Jewell takes fulltime care of her brother , Tim. April 21, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After her brother’s group-home situation wasn’t working out well, Debbie Jewell took him into her home. Tim needs 24-hour care to help him eat and attend to personal care.

When she is at work, Jewell has caregivers for him that are paid for by the state. But the Department of Human Services is in the process of making cuts to home care hours because of budget constraints.

Disability Rights Oregon, a Portland-based nonprofit, last week filed a federal lawsuit against DHS, alleging it violated disability laws by cutting assistance for in-home services. The services, which include help with cooking, bathing and taking medication, are primarily funded with federal Medicaid dollars.

After the lawsuit was filed, the Oregon DHS temporarily halted cuts to in-home care services for people living with disabilities.

Jewell told KOIN 6 News if the cuts went through she “would have to quit my job to stay home fulltime to care for him, and I would lose my health insurance,” or she would have to consider putting him in an institution.

She said her brother’s care hours have not yet been cut but she has a meeting soon where she expects to be told a 30% to 50% cut is coming.

Over the past 2 years, about 3000 children and 8000 adults have gotten home care in Oregon, according to Disability Rights Oregon.