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Perfect Storm of Obstacles

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) A series of issues ranging from changes in the minimum wage to Supreme Court rulings are making the future of one Linn County organization unclear at best.

The people at Options of Linn County got a chance to spell out their concerns to county administrators.

Options of Linn County provides a wide range of services for people who are disabled, letting them be integrated into the workforce to varying degrees. Theyre also the only government run facility in the county.

Because of those two simple facts, its future is extremely complicated.

For the people who normally give a comforting hand to the disabled, nearly the entire 50 person staff at Options of Linn County looked like they needed one themselves.

"We've had one person kind of talk about it as the perfect storm, said Options of Linn County Director Jim Nagel.

On top of issues with funding, Medicaid payments and the minimum wage debate, all which would complicate daily operations, courts have ruled the very work that Options of Linn County does is illegal.

"I think you can sense the frustration here that we are having things imposed on us that make no sense, said Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers.

The Olmstead Act says people with disabilities cannot be kept away from jobs in the rest of society. Similar organizations in other states have already been shut down for not complying. Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston says she and everyone in the room knows that there are just some clients who just arent able to work in a regular job.

"The question is, how do we balance that against what we're required to do by federal law? This is going to be difficult for all of us, said Langston.

"We're basically telling them, you have to be unsuccessful in the workplace before you can come back to day-habilitation, said Rogers.

The county has already started a task force to find a way to help the programs play by the rules.

"It's your jobs, and it's the clients lives, so I get that, Langston told the room full of Options of Linn County staff.

The concern is what that means for the Options staff.

"We don't know on employment, we don't know about what's our lifespan going to be? The whole system is changing, said Nagel.

"As we go through this, we're going to have to probably scale down on some programming, said Rogers.

For now, the idea is to get the questions out there, but answers are few and far between.

"How long can you keep going? And if you can't keep going, how do we have to adapt to it? What changes do we have to make to adapt to the new regulations, asked Nagel.

The next meeting is August 12st, where parents and caregivers will be able to talk about the same issues. From there, the information from the meetings will go to the Linn County Task Force to try and find a solution.
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