Beverly Laporte of East Hartford worries about what will happen to her son Robbie if he is moved from his group home in South Windsor to private care.
Laporte joined others at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Tuesday, testifying in front of the Public Health Committee against privatizing Department of Developmental Services care for their relatives.
Robbie has epilepsy and has been in public care for 23 years. "It would be so scary to think that they could possibly come in and rip away this family and replace them with strangers," she said.
At issue, of course, is money.
Non-profit providers, through The Alliance, which provides a voice for community non-profits, say they can provide the highest quality of care at a fraction of the cost, saving the cash-strapped state $150 million dollars per year in residential care alone.
Barry Simon is the CEO of Oak Hill, an Alliance member, and the largest non-profit provider of services to the disabled in our state.
"We've opened up three homes recently in the last nine months. For every single person we care for, the health benefits have gone up, they have lower blood pressure, fewer visits to the doctor. They are enjoying the community like they've never been able to before. And every single person has said that they'd wished that they'd done this earlier," says Simon.
Some like Laporte are not convinced, arguing that because many private employees in the caregiving field are paid less than their public counterparts, there is a high turnover rate that hurts continuity of care. "The seizures have decreased because the staff knows when to intervene. They can see it coming on. The look in his eye. You won't get that from people who are in and out. They're just not trained," complains Laporte.
Wednesday’s testimony was just one part of the larger battle that will be going on throughout the session.