At budget committee, question: what happens to the ‘vulnerable’

PARAMUS – Caring for the vulnerable is going to suffer from this proposed state budget, said Doug Struyk, president and CEO of Christian Health Care Center. He testified Monday before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee during its public budget session.

Struyk called on the state to be wary of turning down Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP), a portion of Medicaid funding, and more importantly to be aware of where the cuts are taking from areas that were not previously bankrolled by FMAP.

One of those three areas hit with the painful cuts was Southgate Health Care Center, the state-run nursing and convalescent homes in Penns Grove, Salem County.

It’s one of 26 state centers that “care for very special population(s),” Struyk said, like those who sustained brain injuries or are living with HIV/AIDS.

The loss of $9 million  – half  of which was a federal match – is substantial, Struyk said, especially after a place like Southgate has gone two years without an increase in funding.

“This represents almost 10 percent of funding,” he said, at Southgate. “For every dollar cut, there’s a dollar of money from Washington that we could have been taking.”

“Please help us care for the very vulnerable of the vulnerable,” he pleaded. The funding is integral, Struyk said, to “whether we’ll continue to do that in the future.”

“You need the wisdom of Solomon in the next few months,” he told the committee, noting that his operation was praying for them.

Other potentially vulnerable persons came before the committee next, both of whom were suffering from cerebral palsy and attend the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy High School.

Maria Sanchez spoke through a voice recording someone prepared for her, and her mother also spoke on her behalf.

“It’s hard to have a kid with disabilities,” he mother said. “I want you to think just a little bit about how hard it is…When they turn 21, it really is the biggest nightmare that one can imagine…If they stay at home, everything they got those years at school, they’re going to lose (it all).”

Mary Jane Panabianco, whose son Ricky also attends the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy High School, said, “My husband and I both need to work or else we’d have to sell our house to stay at home with him.” At budget committee, question: what happens to the ‘vulnerable’