Is it possible to eat healthy and still stay on your budget?  I’ve always heard “But eating healthy always costs so much more.”  I guess it depends on what your definition of eating healthy is but really it doesn’t have to cost any more than eating “regularly or non-healthy”.  Eating healthy really has to do with portion control and watching what enters your body.  Below are some “cheap and healthy” foods.

  • Bag of brown rice costs around $2.00 {which is even cheaper when you think of all the servings}
  • Whole wheat pasta and bread costs around $2.00 {again, many servings}
  • Yogurt costs around $0.50-$1.00
  • Old-fashioned oats costs around $4.00 {Totals around $0.17 per servings}
  • Frozen vegetables costs around $2.00. –  I think people forget about frozen being a healthy option, but this is a great way to go so you can just cook how much you need and put the rest up and they won’t go bad like fresh vegetables will.
  • Bag of potatoes costs around $4 for 5 pounds!
  • Canned tuna costs around $1.00-$2.00.  Tuna is great to use in a main dish (combine with whole wheat pasta mentioned above), or in a sandwich (whole wheat bread also mentioned), or add on a salad.
  • Bagged Spinach costs around $2.00

With buying these simple cheap items you are on your way to a healthy life style.  These food items also are easy to make with very little prep time in the kitchen which makes them family friendly.

Do you have any suggestions for healthy cheap food items or recipes?  Contact me at mandy.smith@rcilinc.org.

From now through March 6th, we need the disability community to contact each member of the House Appropriations Committee. A complete list of names and contact information is available here.

They will begin debating the budget on March 6th. As they are working on budget issues we need to make sure they know the importance of funding the Home and Community Based services Physically Disabled waiting list and to restore the Financial Management Services(FMS) rate back to $140.

Shannon Jones assembled the following handouts to use in making your contacts with the Legislators.

Some of the talking points for funding the waiting list are:

  • As of February 1, 2012 there are 3,433 persons waiting for HCBS/PD services.
  • 30 persons died while waiting during the month of Jan. 2012
  • 10 persons entered a nursing facility during the month of Jan. 2012.
  • The last person offered PD Services had been waiting for 3 years!
  • Since 2010, 1,200 persons have come off of the PD Waiver, yet no one is coming off the waiting list.
  • Approximately $33 million (State funds) would fund HCBS waiver services for those waiting.

Some of the talking points for increasing the FMS rate are:

  • Last fall, Providers were notified of the $115 reduced rate with no justification and no opportunity for discussion.
  • Providers are asking for a fair rate for services delivered.
  • CILs anticipate additional layoffs associated with the FMS, which will amount to roughly a 25% reduction in agency staffing, the majority of which are people with disabilities.

Once you have made contact with each Legislator on the House Social Services Budget Committee, please email me any responses that you receive so we can track and amend our message as needed.

From now through Thursday February 16th, we need the disability community to contact each member of the House Social Services Budget Committee. A complete list of names and contact information is available here.

As they are working on budget issues we need to make sure they know the importance of funding the Home and Community Based services Physically Disabled waiting list and to restore the Financial Management Services(FMS) rate back to $140.

For a great write up on these issues please check out KHI’s story about the hardships facing Centers for Independent Living and the disability community in Kansas.

Shannon Jones assembled the following handouts to use in making your contacts with the Legislators.

Some of the talking points for funding the waiting list are:

  • As of February 1, 2012 there are 3,433 persons waiting for HCBS/PD services.
  • 30 persons died while waiting during the month of Jan. 2012
  • 10 persons entered a nursing facility during the month of Jan. 2012.
  • The last person offered PD Services had been waiting for 3 years!
  • Since 2010, 1,200 persons have come off of the PD Waiver, yet no one is coming off the waiting list.
  • Approximately $33 million (State funds) would fund HCBS waiver services for those waiting.

Some of the talking points for increasing the FMS rate are:

  • Last fall, Providers were notified of the $115 reduced rate with no justification and no opportunity for discussion.
  • Providers are asking for a fair rate for services delivered.
  • CILs anticipate additional layoffs associated with the FMS, which will amount to roughly a 25% reduction in agency staffing, the majority of which are people with disabilities.

Once you have made contact with each Legislator on the House Social Services Budget Committee, please email me any responses that you receive so we can track and amend our message as needed.

Do you need assistance to pay your utilities bills?  Starting January 18, 2012 The Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) applications will be available at your local Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) office and on the SRS website through March 30, 2012.

LIEAP is a federally funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a one-time per year benefit.  You will receive a paper application in the mail if you are a 2011 LIEAP applicants and December recipients of food, cash, or medical assistance.  LIEAP applications can be submitted online or by mail starting January 18th through March 30th.

The following summary describes basic LIEAP eligibility provisions.  If you need additional information you can contact SRS at 1-800-432-0043.

In order to qualify, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. An adult living at the address must be personally responsible for paying for heating costs incurred at the current residence, payable either to the landlord or to the fuel vendor.
  2. Applicants must demonstrate a recent history of payments toward purchase of the primary heating energy.
  3. The combined gross income (before deductions) of all persons living at the address may not exceed 130% of the federal poverty level according to the guidelines listed below:

Persons Living
at the Address

2012 Maximum Allowable
Monthly Income

1

$1,180

2

$1,594

3

$2,008

4

$2,422

5

$2,836

6

$3,249

7

$3,663

8

$4,077

9

$4,491

10

$4,905

11

$5,319

12

$5,732

 

 

Today at 2:00pm the Kansas House and Senate will convene to start the 2012 Legislative Session. This promises to be one of the busiest, and maybe toughest sessions in recent years.

All eyes are on the Senate as it is an election year for them and the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats that stood together the last 2 years to stave off very damaging legislation will certainly be under fire.The House is most decidedly in Governor Brownback’s pocket and have the will and power to push through his ultra-conservative agenda.

The items that will be of particular note to the disability community are big ones this year:

  • Medicad Reform ushering in Managed Care
  • The Executive Reorganization Order that will combine aging and disability services and all of Medicaid under the new Department of Aging and Disability Services
  • An expected push to significantly lower or even end the income tax
  • Employment initiatives aimed towards Kansans with disabilities that have yet to be revealed
  • Funding Centers for Independent Living and Consumer Run Organizations as well as the usual budgetary items

We are very busy working to introduce an advocacy plan for this session that will utilize the strengths and voices of the consumers we serve to their fullest potential. Check back for regular updates from the Statehouse and contact your local RCIL office to find out how to become involved.

“Nothing about us without us!”

 

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) became an integral part of the lives of Kansans with disabilities and those who are elderly though legislation passed in 1989 (KSA 39-7, 100). This legislation provided Kansans who wanted to have choice and remain independent with the ability to receive long-term care services in their own home and provided them with the option to self-direct their personal care attendant.

In the mid-1970’s, SRS was paying for approximately 14,000 people to be institutionalized in nursing facilities. The passage of the HCBS legislation along with the dedicated work of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) led to the number of people receiving services through HCBS Physical Disability (PD) and Frail Elderly (FE) Waivers to grow. This reduced the number of people being paid for in nursing facilities to hover around 10,000, even though the number of frail elderly people and people with disabilities in Kansas increased. Additionally, the cost to the state for providing services on the PD or FE waiver was proving to be one-third to one-half of the cost of nursing homes.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the State’s support of HCBS diminished significantly, which can be shown by the increase of nursing facility residents between 2010 and 2011. As of June 30, 2010 there were 10,561 people residing in nursing faciliites, and 6,964 on the PD waiver.* At the end of FY 2011, the number of people in nursing facilities was 13,699, with 6,368 on the PD Waiver. This is a drop of approximately 600 people. The 13,699 nursing facilities residents cost to the state was $413.1 M (All Funds), the combined cost for indivduals servied through the HCBS PD or FE waiver was $212.8 M (All Funds) for the year.** Approximately 40% of nursing facility and HCBS costs come from the state general fund.

In December of 2008, SRS established a Waiting List for HCBS PD Waiver. As of OCtober 31, 2011 there are 3,254 people on the HCBS PD Waiting List, many of whom have been waiting for almost 3 years. The PD waiver is down to 6,100 people with only people in extreme crisis being allowed to receive HCBS PD waiver services.

If the individuals on the PD waiting list were to go into nursing facility it would cost the state 3,254 x $37,920 (per person/year) = $123.4 M (All Funds) as opposed to receiving services on the waiver 3,254 x $24,120 (per person/year) = $78.5 M (All Funds). HCBS would be a savings of $44.9 M (All Funds) as well as providing Kansans with disabilities and those who are elderly the dignity and respect that comes with independence and the choice of receiving long-term care services in their own homes and communities.

 

*FY 2010 Kansas Medical Assistance Report
**FY 2011 Kansas Medical Assistance Report

This is adapted from advocacy information distributed by the Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK).

 

I am a Case Manager, yet I do not manage cases, I work with people. My job is to visit people in their homes who have physical disabilities and complete an assessment to determine if they are eligible for a Medicaid program that provides long term care services to them in their own homes.

People used to be relieved when I would complete my assessment and tell them, “Yes, we can help you.” The Home and Community Based Services that they had qualified for would allow them to have assistance as they needed it allowing them to remain independent in their homes and communities and keep the dreaded nursing facility entrance at bay.

Things have certainly changed. Now when I complete an assessment I am forced to say, “Yes we can help you, but there’s a 2 and ½ year waiting list (at least). I look into the eyes of the loved one that is no longer able to stay with them and provide care and see the fear, frustration, and tiredness. I hear the cries of the woman who is terrified that without services she will be committed to an institution, when she is perfectly capable of staying in her own home with some supports.

There is no good explanation for this, Home and Community Based Services are much less expensive than Nursing Facility care, a fact that we as advocates have been stressing for years and years. This year, the savings opportunity was even greater, if Kansas had opted in to the Community First Choice Option that was effective in October, we would have received greater Federal assistance to pay for the services as well as ensure that individuals would not have to wait.

The long term effect of providing Home and Community Based Services to all who qualify instead of institutional care is not only a greater integration of individuals with disabilities into their communities, but also a huge financial savings to the state.

It is time for us to start asking our Legislators and our Governor, why; in a time of budget surplus, we are not talking about restoring the funds to HCBS to eliminate the waiting list and give Kansans the dignity and care that they deserve.

I solicited ideas for this blog post from our followers on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to @Wayne2poles for the topic regarding how people with disabilities can live alone and can afford it.

Being gainfully employed is the best way to be able to afford to live independently. Not only does it allow you to bring home more money that disability benefits alone, but it offers you empowerment, success, and fulfillment.

Finding a job as a person with a disability has always been more difficult than finding one as an able-bodied person. Now state and local governments are slashing assistance, public transportation companies are raising fares and decreasing services, and the job market is flooded with people who are out of work, making most jobs more difficult for anyone to get.

Despite the best efforts of people with disabilities and their advocates, finding or retaining employment can be very difficult at this time. That means that we must become ever more resourceful to live within our very limited means.

Following are some tips to help you live independently on a very tight budget.

    • Apply for benefits that you are eligible for – In Kansas, if you are a person with a disability you may be eligible for some types of public assistance such as Medicaid, Food Stamp benefits, utility assistance through LIEAP, and day care assistance. To apply you can visit the SRS website.
    • Know what services and resources are available to you – Centers for Independent Living(CILs) including the Resource Center for Independent Living are great community resources. We can help connect you with local food banks, volunteer programs, community funding programs, and other services that can help you make it through a tight month.
    • Take charge of your budget – The importance of this step cannot be overstated. A good way to start is to keep a daily record of what you spend, even if it’s 50 cents for a soda. This link is to a great article on getting started with a budget including a worksheet you can print off to start tracking. Once you know what you are spending, you can use these free worksheets to create your own budget. This is another area in which CILs can come in handy. One our our core services is Independent Living Skills Training. You can receive education and assistance in learning how to set up and manage your own budget.
    • Find local couponing groups – To help your grocery and household item budget stretch more, consider joining local groups that teach and support you to use coupons. Inspired by a television show; groups have popped up all over the nation dedicated to extreme couponing. While you don’t have to necessarily be extreme, using some of these techniques can be very beneficial. There are also several online groups and forums devoted to the topic.
    • Weatherproof your home or apartment – Many cities and counties have organizations that can help low income tenants or owners weatherize their homes. This will save a large amount on utilities. Here is also an online do-it-yourself weatherization guide.
    • Join a local Freecycle groupFreecycle groups consist of local people willing to give away or trade items or services for other items or services. This is a great way to obtain a needed item you can’t afford as well as make sure things that you aren’t using are going to people who need them.

 

These are just a few ideas to help you stretch your budget. I would love to hear from you regarding other techniques and resources, leave them in the comments and thanks for reading!

 

While everyone was hopeful that the current fiscal year’s budget Rescission bill would be worked out between the House and Senate yesterday, that did not happen. Today Governor Brownback advised that he will cut $56 million from the current budget. He has not yet specified where that money would come from but indicated he would have a list by the end of today.

Please contact the members of the Senate Ways and Means and the House Appropriations Committees immediately and urge them to come together. Our message should be that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other agencies cannot withstand cuts that could endanger HCBS services, CIL core funding, and many other programs and services for people with disabilities. The following links are to the House Appropriations Committee website where you can find their contact information and the Senate Ways and Means Committee site.

Senate Ways and Means House Appropriations

If you get any feedback from the Legislators please let us know in the Comments section below.