The federal district court recently ruled on a lawsuit involving people with developmental disabilities who receive Medicaid funding to pay for their day-to-day living support. Medicaid’s goal is to provide people with disabilities the supports they need to live as safely and independently as possible in their community, rather than an institution.
Medicaid will pay for up to 15 services directly related to a participant’s developmental disability as well as any services for additional medical needs they may have. Developmental disability services can include such things as 24 hour care so that participants can live in their own home, therapy to help participants develop skills they need to live in the community, non-medical transportation so that they can access and integrate into the community, and other supports that ensure that their homes meet their functional needs.
For the state, supporting this program is extremely important for three reasons:
- Participants benefit from living their lives in community settings, rather than in institutions.
- The community benefits from, and can embrace, the diversity of these participants.
- The costs of community living are less than paying for care at an institution.
This program sounds like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it? Fewer people needing institutional care, diverse communities, taxpayer savings?
It is, if we can find common ground for determining how much each person needs to live independently in their community. That is what the lawsuit is about.
There is no standard package that is the same for all participants; every participant is unique and has different needs and individual capabilities. We currently have participants who need very limited assistance that only cost a few thousand dollars a year to live independently. Others, who have more significant needs related to their disabilities, may require more than $180,000 annually. The range is as broad as the uniqueness of the individuals.
DHW is committed to improving how participant budgets are calculated, ensuring that participant needs are meaningfully assessed, and increasing transparency and protections for participants when they need information and assistance to access their services.
We want this program and its participants to be as successful as possible, ensuring the rights, choices, and freedoms of participants are protected, their needs are adequately addressed, and they live as independently as possible.
To do that, DHW, participants, stakeholders, and advocates must work collaboratively to find sustainable solutions to continue to support people with disabilities in non-institutional settings. DHW is ready, willing, and eager to work with everyone to achieve this.