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Healthcare Workers Protest Budget Cuts at Capitol
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HARTFORD -- Members of the state's largest union of health care workers gathered at the Capitol today to protest proposed budget cuts in Health Care services that would affect children, the elderly, and the disabled.

Forty-nine year old Clayton Douglas, of Vernon works as a consumer counselor for Network Incorporated, a non-profit organization that serves people with developmental disabilities, under an agreement with the department of Mental Retardation.

Douglas said most of his clients need one-to-one care on a daily basis, a hard job he says not a lot of people want to do. He said he hopes the Governor understands what these cuts really mean, and what health workers like him are up against.

"It's just a shame that she, you know, takes funding away from us. It makes it harder to have programs that take them out in society, in the community, to try to make them feel like they're part of the community, you know, instead of being stuck in the house because we have no money to take them anywhere."

Union spokeswoman Deborah Chernoff said organizations like Network Inc. are funded more than 95 percent by the state. She said they're already operating on razor-thin budgets and even a one percent cut will badly hurt the quality of care, especially in an industry that has such a huge turnover.

Chernoff said essential health care services in the state are being "crushed to death" by the budget stalemate.

Some of the proposed cuts include closing Riverview Hospital, the state's only public psychiatric hospital for children, cuts in Medicaid funding for nursing home residents, and eliminating Case Management services for 3 thousand clients with disabilities, mostly children under 18.

Budget negotiations continue at the capitol. Lawmakers hope to pass a plan by July 1.

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