Gov. Bobby Jindal’s defense of his veto that removed funds for disability programs/services is more spin from an administration that are masters at diverting attention from reality. No one has said there has not been progress over the last 20 years since the passage of Act 378 (Community and Family Support Act of 1989), some of that during Mr. Jindal’s administration. However, the credit for the progress is not his alone and it is obvious that services remain woefully inadequate.
First and foremost, the progress is the result of very hard work and effective advocacy by individuals with disabilities and their families and friends. State legislators certainly deserve credit for the increase in funds for individualized home and community-based services. Some of the progress is also the result of lawsuits brought against the state.
Even with all these efforts, the state’s waiting list for cost-effective Medicaid waiver services continues to grow, and the wait time is shameful. Although funding for individualized home- and community-based services has increased overall, the back-and-forth cuts to programs and provider rates during the current administration have been detrimental to the quality of services and morale.
Space does not allow me to respond to all the “statistics” Jindal’s noted, so I will only shed light on one.
While it is true that Louisiana ranks “among the top 10 states in terms of total spending for people with developmental disabilities,” that is largely because of Louisiana’s continued overutilization of the most-expensive service model. Louisiana is ranked first in the country in the number of individuals per capita living in 24-hour residential facilities. (Source: Larson, S., Ryan, A., Salmi, P., Smith, D., & Wuorio, A. (2012). Residential Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities: Status and Trends Through 2010. )
Legislators overwhelming supported the funds in the budget for disability services that Jindal has vetoed. Individuals with disabilities and their families are now hoping those same legislators will stand behind their decision and override Jindal’s vetoes!
retired family coordinator