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.