The Arc of Texas Provides Input on How Texas Budget Will Affect IDD Community
The Arc of Texas Director of Public Policy & Advocacy Ginger Mayeaux was invited to provide testimony to the Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article II. Mayeaux provided virtual testimony during the subcommittee meeting on March 1, 2021. Listen here or read the transcript below.
I am Ginger Mayeaux, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for The Arc of Texas.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on the budget and how it impacts Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities or IDD. The Arc of Texas is a statewide membership based advocacy organization that Promotes, protects, and advocates for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with IDD.
Although we are interested in and available as a resource to you on multiple areas of the budget, I will focus my testimony today on our top priority, which is quality community supports and services to Texans with disabilities, predominantly provided by the Medicaid waiver programs.
Supports and services include access to things like a personal attendant who helps with intimate tasks like bathing, dressing and eating, nursing care, or even employment services.
These types of supports and services are not covered by private insurance, so Texans with IDD depend on Medicaid. Medicaid waivers provide these services to individuals in their homes instead of an institution.
Being able to stay in a home and community-based setting and avoiding a crowded institution is even more critical during the pandemic.
The best way to understand the significance of Medicaid waivers is through an example. One of our members, Cruz, is 6 years old and has cerebral palsy. He needs help for most daily activities, such as the ones I just mentioned. Cruz’s dad works the night shift at his job, and his mom suffers from chronic back pain, making it hard to lift Cruz as he grows. This was making the ongoing care for Cruz impossible. Needless to say, his family was in crisis.
After a lot of work, Cruz received the home and community-based services or HCS waiver—the same waiver you just heard Sandy Batton talking about.
Over the past year, Cruz has seen tremendous results.
- Speech and physical therapy have helped him communicate his needs, balance and even learn to sit up on his own.
- The in-home help for daily activities has allowed Cruz’s parents to focus on being parents instead of struggling caregivers.
There is more detail in my written testimony but to sum up the story, Cruz’s father said, “We’re so thankful for the HCS slot. I don’t know where we’d be without it, and I don’t want to guess.”
Unfortunately, these stories are not the norm. As others shared, there are more than 160,000 Texans waiting up to 15 years for these services.
Exceptional item (EI) 4 would fund 3,512 individuals. At a minimum, we request that this exceptional item be fully funded.
We urge the legislature to take this a step further and commit to a long-term plan of providing timely access to services in the most integrated setting by funding 20% of the waitlist for the next five biennia in addition to providing dedicated waivers for Texans either residing in institutions who want to move into the community or preventing institutionalization for those in crisis. This two-fold strategy continues our state’s commitment to promoting independence and compliance with the Olmstead decision.
Lastly, we know the most effective and efficient way to address the waitlist and quality of care across the system is through an adequate IDD strategic plan. Susan Murphree also addressed this in her testimony.
Now more than ever we see the need to plan and prioritize people with disabilities who want to live, work, and play in their communities.
Thank you again for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with you more.