As the deep economic recession across Massachusetts and the country has affected us in many ways, I want to share with you the impact on Early Intervention Services. Early Intervention is a program of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. State funding supports the 59 EI Programs in Massachusetts. Over the past year, there have been substantial cuts to the state budget due to the economic crisis and decrease revenue coming into the state through taxes. Despite the major cuts last year, Massachusetts is facing a $600 million deficit for the budget that takes us through the end of June. Early Intervention is also facing a budget shortfall of $2 million. When the Governor makes cuts expected this week to the current fiscal budget to close the $600 million state budget gap, it is expected that early intervention will also receive cuts in addition to the $2 million shortfall.
These cuts will have significant impact on early intervention services. It is likely that eligibility to participate in early intervention will become more difficult causing many children to be cut from services. In addition, other measures the state has considered to balance the budget include having families pay for deductibles that you have on your insurance, co-pays for services, or services in general if your policy does not have Early Intervention as a covered benefit. Currently the state, through the Department of Public Health pays all deductibles, co-pays and services for children that do not have EI insurance coverage. These changes could be implemented soon as the Governor tries to balance the budget and begin to prepare the budget for the next fiscal year which starts July 1 st.
The Early Intervention budget is in jeopardy for the remainder of this year and even greater risk for the next fiscal year starting July 1 st. (Early Intervention received federal stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which helped to preserve services last year and this year following state cuts which will no longer be available.)
The Early Intervention Consortium is working hard with the administration to prevent these changes so that children and families can continue to have early intervention and without further cost to families, but we need your help. We are asking that families contact your legislators and Governor Patrick. We need you to let them know what early intervention services has done for you and your family and why they need to preserve services. Also, let them know the impact on your family if you had to pay deductibles, co-pays for all your services, or outright for services if your insurance plan does not include early intervention services.
Your voice really counts!