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      Special needs patients fight for state funding

      The Ways and Means Committee's adopted budget plan will impact some 30,000 South Carolinians.

      Advocates, caretakers, special needs patients and others gathered at the Statehouse to rally against a proposed budget cut that would effect 30,000 disabled people in South Carolina.

      The South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs said the plan reduces the base budget by $42.3 million. This news comes in addition to the new Health and Human Services Funding Proviso, which results in the loss of a $4.7 million state match.

      DDSN said Wednesday that this budget plan will require many families to take the special needs patient out of the home and into an institution. The agency said other services like early intervention, day programs and workshops, respite, family support along with several other specialized programs will be eliminated.

      Children with autism, people with spine and brain injuries and the long-term disabled are among the 30,000 people who would state assistance. DDSN said that the House budget plan doesn't stop at the $47 million reduction. The agency said it will also mean the loss of $110 million in federal matching cash and stimulus money.

      DDSN said the long-term cost of cutting these vital services will be much more expensive than the expected savings. The disability agency said they hope the general assembly how these cuts will force families to make difficult choices like whether to care for their loved one or keep a job.