21

When I was 21, as a woman without an Intellectual Disability (ID), I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Liberal Art degree, married the man of my dreams, got a fancy job in marketing, bought a house and two new cars. I could drink at bars or home, I went on vacation, I bought amazing shoes, and and I moved about how ever I pleased. 21 was a banner year for me.

When my sister-in-law was 21, as a woman with an Intellectual Disability (ID), she exited high school with a “certificate of completion” and not a diploma. Her parents, though diligent about her care, had somehow missed putting her on the DD Waiver Waitlist until she was 20. So, when she exited high school, there was virtually nowhere for her to go. My in-laws own a farm near Los Lunas, so staying home kept her largely alone and isolated. A few days a week she traveled into Albuquerque with her parents to attend limited programs. She can’t drive because of epilepsy and the transportation in ABQ for people with disabilities is minimal and does not exist outside of the metro area. My in-laws owned a small auto shop and from time to time, when I would stop by to drop my car off for an oil change, I would see her bored and asleep in the lobby of the auto shop.

It took 6 years for her allocation to come up on the DD waiver. The entire family struggled. At one point, my in-laws self funded her to go to a special program in Roswell designed for adults with Intellectual Disabilities to get a certificate in a work discipline. Luckily for her, my in-laws put away education bonds when each of their children were born. They cashed them out and funded her to go. The program changed her life. She lived in a dorm with other disabled and non-disabled women. She has always been a fiery woman but her peers would not tolerate that so she put herself in anger management classes. She got her certificate in child care, despite many people saying no one would hire her because she wouldn’t be safe or able.

At 26, she got her waiver and was finally able to get her own apartment in Albuquerque and find the job of her dreams working at a child care facility. She has worked there for 12 years, never misses a day, and is an asset to her employer. Today she lives with her fiancé. They have friends, order pizzas, move about freely, and fight a little less with their parents.

I’m the generation that says: WE WANT MORE FOR OUR PEERS!

 

The New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Waiver is vital for improving the lives of adults with Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities. Please contact your state representatives today and ask them to pass HB 107.

 

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House Bill 107 Medicaid Developmental Disabilities Waiver Supports and Services

On January 10. 2018, Representative Miguel P. Garcia, introduced House Bill 107. The bill asks the State of New Mexico to appropriate $25 million dollars specifically to the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities (DD) Waiver Waitlist. These waivers, in other states, are known as Katie Beckett Waivers or 1915 (c) Home and Community Based Services ¬†(HCBS) Waivers. They are designed to “waive” the amount the parents make for a living, which may disqualify people from medicaid services and gives them a budget each year that includes community support, environmental modification to make their home safer, and much more, in addition to what regular medicaid has to offer.

In 2017, New Mexico’s DD waiver had only 4,696 people in waiver services, according to the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Supports Division (DDSD). Meanwhile, the waitlist has mushroomed to over 6,400 individuals waiting for vital services such as home healthcare, job coaching, supported family living, and habilitation. Of the over 6,400 on the waitlist, 4, 176 are in what is called “start status” which means they have passed all preliminary requirements to qualify for the waiver and are simply awaiting an “allocation” and a final “medical determination of eligibility.” 4, 176 New Mexicans who are being solely supported by family, friends, and a bare bones Centennial Care program which has proven insufficient to support adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).

Lets be very clear about the type of individual that will qualify for the DD waiver, before the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” folks chime in. To qualify for this waiver, you must have either an IQ below 70 and significant inability to independently complete two activities of daily living such as feeding yourself or using the toilet. If you have an IQ above 70, then you must have three areas of significant impairment in “activities of daily living” (ADL’s). Finally, you, yourself, personally, cannot exceed a set amount which is essentially the poverty level. You cannot have stocks, bonds, own land, be gifted an inheritance and get the waiver. Some people can get around this by setting up ABLE accounts or Special Needs Trusts, but most have been living in abject poverty for their entire lives.

New Mexico receives about 3 dollars of federal money for every dollar our state puts towards healthcare so allotting $25 million to the DD Waiver Waitlist would amount to $100 million dollars and would allow each of those people in “start status” to begin to get services.

Local analyst and father, Robert Kegel calculated that, at the rate the state is allocating funds and taking people off of the waitlist, the last person on the end of the 2017 waitlist would be there for an additional 30 years. On this timeline, older people on the waitlist may not live to see services, perhaps due to lack of services.

New Mexico is in a surplus year, with oil and gas rebounding, now is the time to get serious about New Mexico’s most vulnerable population. Please contact your New Mexico Senators and Representatives and urge them to support HB 107.

4,172 New Mexicans are DYING for the DD Waiver.jpg