Letter to the Editor: Delays in disability care affecting thousands

We are living in mass confusion with a pandemic that is causing stress on each of us socially, emotionally, financially, physically, and for many medically.

My concern relates to my son, Joshua. He is 48 years old. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is dependent on others for all his needs.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities has provided for his care for many years. Thank goodness, because his care is very expensive. What has happened with the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Recently, the dropped a bomb and is adding layers of paperwork, slowing services.

The legislature decided not to increase the amount of money allocated to the Developmental Service even though the cost of doing business, personnel wise, is at least 20% higher. The $10 an hour for staffing at group homes, training programs, etc. had to increase, BUT the dollars allocated to provide the service did not. So, in the wisdom of someone in Tallahassee, let’s squeeze the clients. Denial of services is a way to delay service even though it had been funded prior to this year.

Eventually, I am hoping, each person will receive the needed services. It will just be delayed by months while the system churns slowly.

The adult training programs, large and small, throughout the state have not had an increase in their budget in years. The pandemic and loss of clients for the duration, eliminated all revenue. That does not mean expenses stopped. Permanent employees were retained. They were paid. A better idea than some airlines who are now in a serious bind because they do not have trained employees.

How do these non-profit agencies survive? Some will not. What happens to the clients, like my son, who may need services?

The legislature in their wisdom, decreased the number on the waiting list for services. There are 22,000 people waiting. $1 million in funding was allocated. How far do you think that will go? Only people in crisis will be considered. That million dollars won’t go far.

Good news is that Governor DeSantis has applied for $1.1 billion in federal Medicaid funds under the Federal Rescue Plan, but it’s not entirely clear how these funds will be distributed between waiver programs (the disabled and the elderly). The funding hasn’t been granted yet by the Biden administration. The sooner the better for the sake of this vulnerable population.

Posted in Opinion

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