Letter to Health Reform Legislative Task Force

December 14, 2015

The Honorable Cecile Bledsoe and Charlie Collins
Co-Chairs, Health Reform Legislative Task Force

Dear Senator Bledsoe and Representative Collins:

We are a group of Arkansans comprised of individuals who have disabilities and their families, community members, and health and social services professionals who have been meeting together regularly for over three years now.

We are writing to express our concern about the massive waiting list for community services and supports for Arkansas citizens with developmental disabilities and to ask that, as your task force develops a plan for our State to move forward with healthcare reform, these vulnerable individuals — almost 3000 in number — are not forgotten.

During the last legislative session, we worked hard to promote the Community First Choice Option (CFCO), and we were repeatedly assured by legislators that, “while we don’t think CFCO is the right option, we’re committed to finding a way to do away with the waiting list.”

Since that time, although members of the task force continue to express a willingness to end the DD waiting list, we have yet to hear any concrete proposal to address the 8–10 year-long wait for home and community-based services. We all understand that the task force is dealing with a multitude of issues; the waiting list is only one of many, but this is vitally important to those families who have been waiting and waiting for years.

We’re contacting you today to ask for more information. Does the task force intend to make specific recommendations to the legislature to address the waiting list and, if so, what are those recommendations? Will potential savings realized under Medicaid reform be used to fund home and community-based services for people on the waiting list? Will funding those services be a priority in upcoming budget negotiations? What is the timeline for funding home and community-based services for people on the waiting list?

We believe that we, as a group, could assist the task force to build statewide support for whatever plans you propose to serve people with disabilities living in the community.

We sincerely appreciate the work that you are doing, and we respectfully ask that you share information related to potential waiting list plans with us.

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of Arkansans with disabilities.

Sincerely,

Arkansas Autism Resource & Outreach Center (AAROC) – Dianna Varady, director.
Arkansas Disability Policy Consortium – Judy Brooks, chair.
Arkansas State Independent Living Council – Sha Stephens, executive director.
Arkansas Support Network – Keith Vire, president.
Arkansas Waiver Association – Justin Nickels, association manager.
Jane and John Browning – Parents of child on waiting list for 4.5 years.
Disability Resource and Advocacy Center – Brenda Stinebuck, executive director.
Disability Rights Arkansas, Inc. (DRA) – Tom Masseau, executive director.
Independent Case Management – Cindy Alberding, president.
Integrity, Inc. – Vicki Grantham, director.
Michael Thornton – Self Advocate
Parent Advisory Council, Inc. – Angela Roberson, president.
Partners for Inclusive Communities – David Deere, director.
Spa Area Independent Living Services – Brenda Stinebuck, executive director.
United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas – Larry Stang, president and CEO.