WALKER, Mich. — Aaron Young asked his healthcare aide to open a manila folder in his apartment Monday. Seated side-by-side with his longtime friend and roommate Bryon Beutler in their wheelchairs, Young pulled out the letters showing FOX 17 their healthcare services are being cut in less than 30 days.
“I think it’s deplorable what they’re doing, like they don’t have a heart," said Beutler.
Beutler and Young are dealing with convoluted funding and a healthcare system that is frankly difficult to follow. While they're just learning Spectrum Community Services is cutting their support coordination services Jan. 13, they say they're not getting answers. It's a stalemate about to cost them their independence.
"I just felt like why are they doing this?" said Young.
In separate letters dated Dec. 14 to Young and Beutler, Area Director Sharon Blain with Spectrum Community Services warned SCS is terminating their support coordination services in 30 days with no explanation.
In a previous letter to Young dated Nov. 18, Blain wrote SCS would cut his CLS, or community living supports, and home help services Dec. 18 "because it is our belief that some of the care that you require is outside the scope of practice for CLS and Home Help." Yet, Young (and Beutler) has been receiving his care through SCS since this June.
Both men are proud Central Michigan University graduates. They're friends since college and roommates who don't take being part of the Grand Rapids' community for granted. Mondays Young does standup while Beutler reads poetry at Stella's.
But in order to live where they want to live they require around-the-clock care. Since June CLS aides come to their apartment daily to help with paramount, every day tasks: to suction Young's tracheotomy, or help Beutler cook meals.
“The staff that is here are basically my hands and my feet," said Beutler.
It's care these men need. Yet now the clock is ticking until their care is terminated, while many agency employees are already on vacation. When Beutler and Young go to their parents' homes, each hours away, they say they won't be able to return to theirs until they get answers.
“When we go home we get no interaction with the community," said Beutler.
“I just feel like I like being in this community, but when you say, 'here’s your caregivers, you have your life now, I’m going to take it away from you,'" explained Young. "That’s kind of what it feels like.”
They say calling their support coordinators they are getting the run-around. They've even interviewed nurses to hire privately in preparation, but it's more costly and they say no agency is answering them as to how much of a state budget they have to hire moving forward.
Most of all, they question why do they have to transition from agency to private care, that's more expensive, anyway?
“We won’t know when we will return ‘cause we won’t have nothing to come back to," Beutler said.
FOX 17 called Spectrum Community Services and Lakeshore Regional Entity, to which Beutler filed an appeal last week; we have yet to hear back as of Monday evening. Representatives with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also told FOX 17 via email they could not comment due to HIPAA.
Beutler called FOX 17 later Monday and said after our interview a SCS support coordinator came to their apartment and extended their care, temporarily approving Young's 24-hour care and Bryon's 20-hour care to provide more transition time.