Proposed cuts to developmental disability benefits would hurt families

Submitted by Wendi Stovall
Posted 2/16/21

Dear Editor:

I was hoping to spread the word about House Bill 1. It impacts the lives of all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and individuals with acquired brain injuries. …

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Proposed cuts to developmental disability benefits would hurt families

Posted

Dear Editor:

I was hoping to spread the word about House Bill 1. It impacts the lives of all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and individuals with acquired brain injuries. This bill is set to be submitted in March without any input from the disabled community, case managers or caretakers.

If passed this bill will remove as much as 50% of benefits for those with comprehensive disabilities. This will lay the financial responsibility for care for disabled persons on their families’ backs and force some to completely go without. In many of these families, both parents work to make ends meet and this will likely force one of them to leave their job to care full time for their adult disabled child.

Some of these parents/caretakers are elderly themselves. I spoke with a case manager who said she feared some of her clients would have to leave their homes and be placed into institutions. This bill will set the disabled community of Wyoming back decades. Some of the cuts are so severe it will force some centers that serve the disabled to close their doors.

This bill also removes dental and vision care for the disabled. Many of those with special needs depend on glasses to function through the day. This bill also freezes the waiver waiting list, which is now at three years.

My family and I moved here in 2018 with our beautiful daughter, MaryKate, who has the diagnosis of “gravely disabled.” We went through all the tests and they did find that she is indeed disabled and needed therapy and other services, but we are having to wait years before getting the help she needs. My husband is a retired police officer and had to find work so we could do our best to provide the care our daughter needed; it has not been easy at times.

The irony of this bill is that it does give increases to some individuals. We’re finding people with less need are seeing an increase. So, say an individual who lives on their own and works may not use all of their services by the end of the year, they are getting an increase — while those with a higher need that use all of their services are getting a decrease.

This bill will strip the dignity of disabled people, rob them of their independence and severely affect their quality of life. Once passed, this bill cannot be removed. That is why they are trying to pass it as quietly as possible.

I’m adding a link to the Wyoming Institute of Disabilities. This video explains it all, much better than I can in this brief synopsis: www.uwyo.edu/wind/family-forum/

This is an awful bill that must be stopped. I’m hoping that if we get the word out we can stop this bill in its tracks.

Thank you,

Wendi Stovall

Powell

   

(Editor’s Note: House Bill 1 is the Wyoming Legislature’s supplemental budget bill and contains funding for all state government programs. This letter concerns specific cuts proposed within the Wyoming Department of Health budget, which would generally reduce the amount of money the state makes available for Medicaid developmental disability waiver services.)

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