Posts Tagged ‘Fernald’

What are they afraid of?

June 1, 2011 4 comments

It’s now clear that there will be no independent study of the cost of closing versus maintaining the Templeton, Monson, and Glavin developmental centers for people with profound intellectual disabilities in Massachusetts.

Instead, the Patrick administration will continue on its path of closing these critically important institutions on the basis of its largely unscrutinzed claim that doing so will save money.

We figured the administration and the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers wouldn’t want an independent assessment of that savings claim.  Now we know the leadership in the House and Senate didn’t want it either.  As a result, it will not happen.

Last week, the Senate leadership scuttled a budget amendment, which would have specified that a study of the cost of closing Monson, Templeton, and Glavin be undertaken by a non-governmental entity selected by the Inspector General. 

This occurred after the House had scuttled a similar amendment, and after the ADDP and The Boston Herald had cited inflated numbers on the cost of operating the Fernald Developmental Center.  (Fernald, by the way, wouldn’t even have been included in the proposed cost study.)

What were the administration and the ADDP, in particular, so afraid of?

I think I can guess.  There is a possibility that the entity selected to undertake the study would have come up with a conclusion that the administration, the ADDP, and the legislative leadership didn’t want to hear, i.e., that there would be little or no savings in closing the three facilities. 

Even if you believe we will save money in closing these institutions, why not verify that with an impartial study?  Because it might delay the closures of these facilities by a few months?

In fact, the administration is on schedule, as far as we know, to close all of these facilities as of Fiscal Year 2013.  Fernald, which was first on the closure list, remains open, not because of any cost studies that have been conducted, but because of administrative appeals filed by the guardians of its remaining residents.

The administration has steadily moved residents out of all four of these developmental centers.  This has caused tremendous displacement and anxiety among hundreds of families and guardians, and is leading us toward a system that no longer meets the same high federal standards of care as do the developmental centers. 

Elderly residents of these centers are being forced to leave homes many have known for practically their whole lives.  The key justification the administration has given for doing all this is saving money.   Yet, we are told we cannot afford to have an impartial review of that savings claim because it might slow down this march of “progress” by a few months.

The fact is that studies in other states have come to conclusions that don’t support the Patrick administration’s claim that closing developmental centers saves money.  (See, for instance: Journal of Mental Retardation cost studies review and Connecticut DDS studies of the cost of closing the Southbury Training School.)  Were an independent study in this state to reach a conclusion similar to those out-of-state studies, it would present a public relations problem, at the very least, for the Patrick administration.

That, it seems to us, is the real reason the administration and the ADDP fought so hard to make sure the independent cost study amendment didn’t see the light of day here in Massachusetts.   Last month, Rep. Brian Dempsey, House Ways and Means chairman, wouldn’t allow the study amendment, which had been sponsored by Rep. Anne Gobi, even to come to a floor vote in the House. 

A staff member for Senator Michael Moore, the sponsor of the independent cost study amendment in the Senate, would only say this week that “(Senate) Ways and Means was not supportive” of the amendment.  As we understand it, Moore was first told he would not be allowed to include language in the measure requiring legislative approval of the study. 

Then Moore was told he would have to knock Templeton and Monson out of the amendment, and restrict the study just to Glavin, which is in Moore’s district.  Moore complied with all of those directives.  But it didn’t help. 

Moore’s watered-down cost study amendment was nevertheless then reportedly bundled with other budget amendments in the Senate’s consolidated “no” pile, meaning it was doomed to be rejected, along with all the other amendments unwanted by the leadership, in a single voice vote on the Senate floor.  You couldn’t have done in this cost study amendment more thoroughly if you tried.

You have to hand it to the administration and the ADDP.  If they don’t want something getting through the legislative process in Massachusetts, it apparently doesn’t get through.  The problem is that doesn’t say much for the democratic process in Massachusetts.

%d bloggers like this: