Governor signs bill to reduce developmental disability waitlist | Arkansas Blog

Friday, January 27, 2017

Governor signs bill to reduce developmental disability waitlist

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 11:54 AM

HOPE WITHIN REACH: Teresa Dodson should soon be able to receive at-home services for her son Nathan thanks to HB 1033. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • HOPE WITHIN REACH: Teresa Dodson should soon be able to receive at-home services for her son Nathan thanks to HB 1033.

Hundreds of Arkansas families who have been waiting years for state assistance in caring for developmentally disabled children or adults will soon be able to access those services, thanks to a bill signed into law by Governor Hutchinson this morning.

HB 1033 will use a portion of Arkansas's tobacco settlement proceeds to expand the Alternative Community Services Waiver Program, which provides home- and community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Around 3,000 families are on the waiting list to receive waiver services. In September, when the governor announced his intention to use $8.5 million in tobacco settlement funds to reduce the waitlist, he estimated the list would be reduced by 500 to 900 people.

DHS spokesperson Amy Webb told the Arkansas Times this morning that those numbers still stand. The money will serve "a minimum of 500," she said, "but if they have less complex needs, we think we can serve up to 900. ... It just depends on individual needs."

In March 2016, Hutchinson pledged to cut the waiting list in half within three years. This law make substantial progress on that promise.

Nathan Dodson, 16, is one of those who should be able to receive services under the new act. In 2014, the Times spoke to Teresa Dodson, Nathan's mother, who had then been waiting for seven years for waiver services. Dodson said this morning that she was "ecstatic" about the news. Nathan is 76th in line on the waiting list, she said.

"In the past, I've not been real hopeful ... [now] it's within reach," she said. December marked her ninth year waiting for services for Nathan. "[He] was 7 when we applied, in December of 2007."

Arkansas Medicaid guarantees around-the-clock care for people with severe developmental disabilities — but only within an institution, such as one of the state's Human Development Centers. There are about 1,500 developmentally disabled Arkansans currently living in an HDC or a similar facility. However, for families that want to keep a disabled family member at home or in their community, there is no such guaranteed benefit. The waiver program allows Medicaid money to be used to pay for home- or community-based care (which is also cheaper than institutional care), but demand has long outstripped the cap on the waiver.

The bill contains an emergency clause and therefore takes effect immediately. Amy Webb said in an email that families will be able to get waiver services as soon as this summer:

Individuals on the waitlist can begin accessing services July 1 after undergoing an independent assessment by a third-party vendor and developing a plan of care with providers of their choice. (Assessment does not determine eligibility for the DDS [developmental disability services] waiver. It determines the level of services covered. Eligibility has already been established.) Typically it takes anywhere between 60-90 days for DDS waiver providers to hire and train staff and begin providing services. Note that more than 90 percent of our waiver dollars are spent on direct care provided by staff, which is why additional staff will need to be trained and hired. DDS has an implementation team that continues to look at realistic timeframes for transitioning such a large amount of clients into our system.
The lead sponsor of HB 1033 was Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley). It passed both chambers without opposition.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation