The fix is only temporary, but a just announced plan from Governor Bev Perdue could keep group homes for the low income disabled open through the end of January. A one time injection of $1 million in idle rental-assistance funds will help pay the expenses for nearly 1,400 developmentally and mentally disabled group home residents.

Problems remain, however. Recent changes to Medicaid policy have lowered the payments made to reimburse group caregivers for round-the-clock services like dressing and eating assistance. Faced with decreased payments, group home operators are worried they’ll either have to evict residents or shut down altogether.

As reported by our own Bob Geary, legislators created a $39.7 million fund to assist the affected adult care homes during last year’s budget negotiations. But language in the bill conspicuously excludes group homes from sharing in the money. Representative Nelson Dollar, Republican chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, has said he was not aware of the exclusion at the time.

The new plan gives lawmakers just a short window with which to come up with a permanent solution, said Perdue. Any amendments to the budget are on hold until the General Assembly reconvenes. Legislators report back to work on January 9.