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Still waiting

Several Arkansans who testified during Tuesday’s House Public Health Committee will remain on the disability services waiting list as House Bill 1300 failed to pass through the committee.
House Bill 1300, sponsored by Representative Josh Miller, would have “required the Department of Human Services and Medicaid to prioritize funding for the Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program, and to fully fund home and community-based services for individuals on the waiting list within three years.”
The bill was amended further explaining that funding to support the bill would not affect funding currently being directed to human development centers by DHS.
DHS and Developmental Disabilities Services estimated the bill would require approximately $43 million from the state level to accommodate the mandate it would set.
Arkansans who have a family on the waiting list, themselves are on the waiting list, or are no longer on the waiting list testified saying the services offered through the waiver would assist them in living a normal life. Mothers with disabled children said that they’ve given up job promotions and some even had to quit their jobs to be able to take care of their child full-time. One mother said she has accumulated approximately $50,000 in debt while another said she, a single mother of three, lost their health coverage.
A young girl with muscular dystrophy said that once she graduates from high school she wants to go to college, have a career and live on her own. Currently, she has a nurse that assists her throughout the day, but if she continues to be on the waiting list after graduation, she will not have that resource.
Legislators concerned with the bill raised questions primarily dealing with: where is the funding going to come from? Some feared that the bill would be reprioritizing DHS’s focus from thousands of children in foster care and other programs. Others proposed that with the state government’s proposed underfunding this year as well as the tax-cut legislation that the state could not sustain the $43 million annually for the bill.

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