Legislative Wrap Up

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2018 Spring Session Legislative Wrap Up 

The OK State Legislature provided OKDHS an additional $34 M to their annual budget.  This means OKDHS has 2019 operating funds of $729.4M.  $2 M will be earmarked to serve individuals on the Waiting List for the Developmental Disabilities Medicaid Home and Community-based Waivers. 

This $2 M represents less than 1% of the total funding appropriated to OKDHS by the State Legislature. Nonetheless, it is the only dedicated funding the Waiting List has received since 2014 and the largest one-time appropriation ever. Currently, 7600+ individuals are on the Waiting List. Additionally, in the DHS budget, DDS was given $100,000 to develop a new Medicaid Home and Community-based waiver to include respite and other supports not available on Oklahoma’s State Medicaid plan. 

Legislator allies of the Waiting List community expect OKDHS to use this funding solely to serve individuals in chronological order – in other words, those who have been on the Waiting List the longest.  While there is not an official start date, OKDHS estimates they can serve approximately 200 Oklahomans with this funding.  Medicaid provider’s rates for DD and Aging supports rates will increase by 7%, replacing the 3.5% rate cut from 2015.  

Family advocates worked diligently to ensure OKDHS Developmental Disabilities Services had some protected funding for the Waiting List families.  Three Partners in Policymaking graduates (also from each of the Redlands Partners) initiated the Waiting List Caucus, a bipartisan working group of representatives and senators  working toward annualized waiver funding. Marie Moore, then Interim Director of DDS, provided valuable data and policy clarifications to this effort.

The $34 M appropriation to OKDHS is paired with an increase in OK’s FMAP.  This is the federal–state Medicaid matching formula which, this year, tipped in Oklahoma’s favor.  As such, OKDHS will have access to receive an additional $18M.

Wanda Felty, long-time parent advocate and facilitator of the Waiting List quarterly meetings said, “I appreciate that the legislature gave the single most funds to work the Waiting List.  Yet, this leaves 7,000 Oklahomans still waiting.  We  must priortize our funding into supporting all vulnerable Oklahomans and not just those who have drawn the most attention through litigation. When we, as a state, force individuals to sit and wait for more than a decade for supports, we are not helping them envision and work towards independent and valued lives.” 

The next DDS Waiting List Meeting is June 14 at 1:30 pm in the Sequoyah Memorial Office Building, basement level and the DD Council encourages families, legislators and allies to attend.

This Legislative update is for informational purposes only.  Inclusion and tracking of any legislation does not constitute endorsement or opposition by the Center for Learning and Leadershipthe Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council, or the Oklahoma Disability Law Center.