The once vaunted Gray Lady of New York City has swallowed the sweet-tasting Kool-Aid ladled out by Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign for president. Its editorial endorsing Gov. Kasich relies on the collective ignorance about his real record of not lifting people up as much as he claims he has.

The NYT’s Saturday opinion piece is a very oblique endorsement of Ohio’s governor as it mainly argues against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as undesirable GOP candidates. Confronted with a hand of nothing but Joker cards, John Kasich was the last Joker card left after the Times’ editorial board discarded all the others.

How effective was awarding John Kasich it’s thumbs up? According to David Frum’s announcement at Twitter, The NYT editorial endorsing Hillary Clinton is second most emailed article of past 7 days, while Kasich’s endorsement wasn’t in the top 20.

Drawing All Jokers

While acknowledging Mr. Kasich is “a distinct underdog,” the Gray Lady concludes that, after they reviewed the other dozen GOP candidates in the field, John Kasich is the least terrible Joker of the lot. Gov. Kasich is the “only plausible choice for Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race,” the editorial postulated. It correctly noted “Mr. Kasich is no moderate. As governor, he’s gone after public-sector unions, fought to limit abortion rights and opposed same-sex marriage.”

In the one paragraph summarizing why the NYT endorsed the Ohio governor, the paper showed how entrapped it’s become by Kasich PR that he cares for the poor and other unfortunates. When The Music Man governor speaks about having a “big heart,” he speaks in code about being a Democrat.

Kasich Pushes Neediest Into Uncertain Community

Had the New York Times editorial board bothered to spend just a little time investigating whether the term-limited chief executive is actually helping or hurting Ohioans “living in the shadows” back home, it might have reconsidered saying of him that he “speaks of government’s duty to protect the poor, the mentally ill and others ‘in the shadows.'”

It’s a favorite phrase from Camp Kasich that works well on the campaign trail even though it’s amazingly false in real life had NYT editorial writers bothered to examine his record of treatment of the developmentally disabled among other severely challenged populations.

It might have learned of the general Republican-led effort that John Kasich ascribes to, to downsize government by out-sourcing it’s parts to private interests that bodes ill for the most severely troubled, and therefore the most needing of care. Their futures are fraught with tremendous uncertainties that await as his administration moves them out of consistent, around-the-clock, quality care into what many who have family and friends on the front lines of care believe will be far less adequate conditions and service from for-profit community care businesses.

HRC 21

Advocates lining up to protest John Kasich’s uncompassionate treatment of severely handicapped people include Peggy Cooley and Robin Tarr, who have tried to bring what’s happening to their loved by Kasich administrators to the attention of both in-state and national media. They got some help from testimony delivered last Wednesday in the House Health and Aging Committee. HCR21, sponsored by Reps. Romanchuk and Antonio. urged Congress to request that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revise its guidance on employment services for individuals with developmental disabilities to maintain their right to participate in programs offered by facility-based day programs, training centers, and sheltered workshops.

Mike Odioso of the Ohio Coalition for Person Centered Planning and Joe Moore of Tiffin offered testimony, according to Hannah News, that told the story of their loved ones. Mr. Odioso said his daughter suffered from autism (lower spectrum) and mental retardation, and she suffered from debilitating behavioral issues. She resided at state-run facility where she received Medicaid individual options waivers services. Requiring her to safely function in “some federal [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] bureaucrat’s figment of a least restrictive environment … would have been utterly reckless,” he said.

Mr. Moore said wonders about a client who is offered a job in the community for as little as one hour per week? What will the individual do for the other 30+ hours when he/she would normally have been in the workshop? Where will he/she spend the day and what will they do? he asked.

“If a parents or family members are still in the picture, perhaps they can help, but that may mean that one of them may have to drop out of the workforce to care for the individual during the day. For some individuals without a job, he said, it will mean going to an adult day care facility or a nursing home? “That scenario is already playing out in some areas. It brings the problem full circle. Adult day care and nursing homes are congregate settings. They are facility-based and they are segregated from the community,” he told panel members. Mr. Moore is concerned because “thousands of Ohioans with developmental disabilities are employed in sheltered workshops operated by county boards or private providers and they enjoy being there each and every day. It’s what they choose and [the U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision] promises that it’s their choice to make.”

Additional written testimony said integrating individuals into the community must be based on the individuals’ choice and be guided first by safety and health concerns for the individuals. An overarching concern from these advocates is to force privatization upon Ohio county board operated day services.

Going Overboard on De-Institutionalization

Writing in Psychology Today, Louis Putterman offers a larger view of the privatization movement of society’s most needy from established quality care to untested and uncertain service environments. “When ‘De-institutionalization’ Goes Overboard, Forcing the lowest functioning ‘into the community’ is inexcusable,” Mr Putterman, whose adult daughter suffered profound brain damage at birth, wrote about the move from state care to private care. After decades of his daughter receiving the best care available, he encountered a threat to the lives of his daughter and others like her that is premeditated and makes no apology.

“I discovered that a coalition of real estate developers, professional litigators, and advocates for higher-functioning cognitively impaired individuals had judicially kidnapped my daughter into a legal class composed of individuals they claimed to represent without their guardians’ consent,” he wrote. “And I learned that they had gotten a federal judge and the state of Massachusetts to sign on to a program of moving the individuals in this class into residential group homes providing far lower levels of medical attention, staffing redundancy, and programming than the specialized nursing home that provides for my daughter’s every need since she is incapable of performing even the simplest functions for herself. I learned, finally, that what’s happening on institutional care in Massachusetts is part of a broad national trend.”

How could anyone assert that moving such fragile and cognitively impaired individuals into smaller houses with less staff would improve their quality of life? he wonders. Mr Putterman believes he has the answer. “Developers and group home operators earn millions building and operating the homes mandated by the de-institutionalization legal settlements, and the lawyers concerned make a handsome living in the process. It’s a business like anything else,” he says.

The issue isn’t a new one, as articles written by The August Chronicle’s staff writer Tom Corwin show. Last March Mr. Corwin reported on the movement to push patients out of state facilities and into community care, as Gov. Kasich is doing in Ohio. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority in a decision that’s now known as the Olmstead decision, said states would be required to place those patients in community settings when those treating them deemed it appropriate. However, she added two important caveats: that such a transfer “is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs” of other patients. The Supreme Court also noted “that nothing in the ADA or its implementing regulations condones termination of institutional settings for persons unable to handle or benefit from community settings. Nor is there any federal requirement that community-based treatment be imposed on patients who do not desire it.”

The fear of parents in Ohio and around the nation is that the patients will not receive a comparable level of care in the community, and particularly for the many medically fragile patients could prove fatal. Mr. Corwin, citing a study of more than 1,800 cases, found a 51 percent higher mortality rate than would be expected compared with comparable patients in institutions. He added that later analysis of this same group over a longer period of time found a 47 percent higher than expected death rate.

Connecting Dots

Peggy Cooley sees the dots, has connected them and doesn’t like the picture painted. “My inclination, without knowing anything else, is that it’s all tied into privatizing government. It got rolling with Reagan and our governor [John Kasich] still pushes it,” she said. “I am convinced that the Olmstead Act has been used to privatize Medicaid. Kasich loves to get his hands on federal money.”

 

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