Oklahoma's budget cuts become a life and death matter for people who depend on that money for healthcare.
News on Six reporter Rick Wells went to Drumright to meet a man who says proposed health care cuts in his sister's "in-home" care may kill her. State Senator Ted Fisher of Sapulpa, "when it is properly investigated we must find funds to keep these people alive."
The people Senator Fisher is talking about are 300 to 400 Oklahomans who currently receive 24 hour in home care through DHS. People like Brenda Reece from Drumright totally disabled with cerebral palsy since birth. She lives in her family home.
Her parents built it; she's never lived anywhere else. She has a team of caregivers like Stacy Bryant who do everything for her all day everyday, including administering her liquid meals. "She gets this five times a day one day then four times the next day." That kind of care is expensive, about $140,000 a year per person. DHS says it simply doesn't have the money, so they are reducing it. The care is being reduced to one 8-hour shift.
Clients and their families have until May 1st to make arrangements to deal with it. One of the alternatives is putting several clients in one home so they can share caregivers. Gary Reece: "For you to stay where you're at you gonna have to move some other people in to live there in your home."
Gary Reece is Brenda's brother and legal guardian. He's says he's neither physically able nor qualified to provide his sister's care, and is afraid a significant change will kill her. He hopes legislators like Senator Ted Fisher can come up with something. "We're going to have to make some priorities, and certainly life is a priority."
He says solutions to this and other funding problems in the state are going to be enormously difficult. The State Senate wants to hear from those affected by the cuts, next Thursday at a public hearing in Oklahoma City.