While Washington residents with developmental disabilities receive high-quality care, accessing to those services has been a longstanding issue.
A proposal from Sen. Andy Hill of the 45th Legislative District, which serves parts of Kirkland, would provide services to thousands of people currently on a waiting list. The result would be respite care and supported employment for an additional 5,000 people and their families without costing the state additional money.
“Finding ways to prioritize and provide care for individuals with developmental disabilities is of great importance to our entire state,” said Hill, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “For decades people have been waiting to access programs that help them remain with their families and be involved in the community. As a budget writer, being able to do this without an additional cost to the state is a win-win.”
The plan would extend assistance to 4,000 families waiting for respite care, which is regularly scheduled relief for those who provide in-home care instead of using an institution. Another 1,000 people would receive employment support services, to help people find jobs and remain employed if they are able to work.
“Sen. Hill’s proposal heralds the long-awaited hope for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to receive needed support in their communities,” said Margaret-Lee Thompson, board member of The Arc, a national organization of community-based groups that advocate and serve people with developmental disabilities and their families. “This is a historic event in our state.”
The plan would adopt the Community First Choice Option that increases the state’s Medicaid matching funds for community care. The cost savings would then be directed to those who qualify, but receive no state assistance.
The plan received a public hearing in the Senate Health Care Committee recentl where many advocates from the developmental-disability community testified in favor of the plan.
Joe Cunningham also expressed strong support of the bill on behalf of the Arc of King County and thanked Hill for his dedication to the many people and their families who would finally receive much-needed services.
The Senate Health Care Committee is expected to take action on the proposal later this week with the full Senate weighing in during the coming weeks.