Richmond Times-Dispatch

Virginia must cutwait for disability services

- WIGGINS.

EDITOR, TIMES-DISPATCH:

Virginia is ranked 39th for providing high-quality developmen­tal disability services to those in need. Virginia does have a Medicaid Developmen­tal Disabiliti­es (DD) Waiver Program that aims to provide services to people with intellectu­al and developmen­tal disabiliti­es, and the idea of this program is great. However, there is a problem. There are more than 13,000 people on a waiting list to receive services. To make matters worse, individual­s categorize­d as priorityon­e clients, meaning they are the individual­s with the most pressing needs, are supposed to receive services within a year, yet these individual­s are on the waiting list for years on end. No one should have to wait years to receive the services they need. Some people even have been waiting decades, which completely is unacceptab­le. Imagine a child with an intellectu­al or developmen­tal disability. Imagine them not having anyone to help them with the difficulti­es of day-to-day living. Imagine the child’s family not being able to afford the help needed, yet the family is the only support that child has. We are failing one of our most vulnerable population­s and something needs to be done about it.

Funding is a big issue when it comes to providing services for those on the waitlist, so we need to find a solution to this and fully fund the DD waitlist. There should be a reallocati­on of funds to make funding more feasible. For example, let’s think about how big hospitalit­y and tourism is in Virginia. In 2019, hospitalit­y and tourism brought in more than $7 billion. Why can’t a portion of these dollars be used to fund the DD waitlist? Do we not care about these vulnerable population­s within our own community as much as we do those who come to visit? It is time for a change.

CHENIERA

LANCASTER.

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