North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Patients Concerned About Funding Cuts


March 12, 2012
By Lee Law Offices, P.A. on March 12, 2012 9:40 AM |

Proposed statewide cuts to Medicaid have those who have suffered permanent disability from spinal cord injuries in North Carolina fearing a substandard level of care.

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Our Asheville spinal cord injury attorneys are anxiously awaiting the decision by legislators, which could have a substantial impact in the long-term care of some clients.

The fact that our governmental economic stability both at the state and federal level is tenuous, this is all the more reason why someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury must immediately contact an experienced attorney. Often, people who are coping with such a devastating injury are going to require long-term care or at least rehabilitation that is likely to be costly and all-consuming. If you can't count on the government to help subsidize some of that cost, it is in your best interest to have an attorney who will fight to earn you the best compensation available.

According to the Greenville News, the proposed cuts would directly impact state and county disability centers. For example, an executive at the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs board said the changes would mean slashing staff by almost 60 percent. That would mean the case workers who remain - those who provide services to both youth and adults who suffer from a myriad of disabilities, including spinal cord injuries - would have more than double the workload.

It's a case manager's job to assess the person's need and work out a care plan. This helps make sure that the person is able to get the appropriate care.

Legislators, however, are trying to reduce fraud and abuse of the system. The rate that people must pay for services varies a great deal. This has led to people being reimbursed for services they weren't eligible for or of certain agencies receiving perhaps more than they should have been.

The government says the cost for case management is highly inflated, and that has meant taxpayers have to foot the bill.

However, the agencies that provide services dispute this, and say that if the government intends to slash their funding, it's going to mean serious consequences for those at the ground level.

A spokeswoman with the state's Department of Disabilities and Special Needs said that the average salary of a case management worker is about $32,000 annually, and that the cost to provide that service per individual is about $1,500. The accountability is there, the spokeswoman says, because all of the income rates and service fees are reported back to the government each year. What's more, case managers work hands-on with people who have complex needs.

"These are difficult cases," she said. "...It takes a lot of time. One size doesn't fit all."

And with these changes, a number of private providers who contract with the government say they either won't be able to continue doing what they do, or they'll have to cut way back on the services provided. Families and patients worry this could mean they'll hardly ever see their caseworker.

Almost nobody anticipates a spinal cord injury. It's an unexpected event, and not one that you might spend your whole life saving for. The government assistance provided does help. The fact that it is now on the chopping block is all the more reason to make sure you have an attorney who will fight to ensure you have been properly compensated by the responsible party that may have caused your injury in the first place. Even if federal and state assistance isn't cut now, there is nothing to say it couldn't happen in the next several years.

Contact the personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices, P.A. if you have suffered a spinal cord injury in North Carolina or South Carolina. Experienced attorneys are available to help so call 1-800-887-1965 to speak to someone about your claim today.

Additional Resources:

Medicaid changes may affect case management services for disabled, By Liv Osby, The Greenville News

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