OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate chamber burst into applause Friday after the unanimous final passage of a bill eliminating the state’s 13-year waiting list for developmental disability services.
News 4 has been reporting on this important issue for months.
The waiting list for these services has grown to 13 years long.
That means, Oklahomans who first applied for a Medicaid waiver in 2009 are still waiting.
This week, the state legislature has unveiled their plan to use taxpayer dollars to eliminate the waiting list and fund services for every eligible Oklahoman on the list as of May 1, 2022.
As of this month, 5,134 Oklahoma families are waiting.
House Bill 4466 provides $32.5 million, the largest funding increase to this program in state history, to clear that waitlist.
Today, the unanimous Senate vote was the final legislative hurdle for the bill.
“We’re talking about more than 5,000 Oklahomans and their families who’ve been waiting years for the services they need to improve their lives. This is huge, and the unanimous vote reflects that,” Rosino said. “After years of working to address this issue, we are making our vow to eliminate this waiting list a reality.”
DHS has pledged an additional $19 million in cash, from operational efficiencies.
A state contribution of federal funding draws another $122 million in for a total investment of $174 million.
The measure also increases the rate to direct care staff workers by 25 percent.
All eligible Oklahomans on the waiting list as of May 1st should be receiving services is 18 to 24 months.
“Today it feels like a huge victory,” said DHS Chief of Staff, Samantha Galloway. “But I don’t feel like it’s a victory for DHS. I think it’s a victory for 5,146 families who have been waiting for a really long time for services. It’s a victory for them.”
The DHS will continue to work the waiting list as they have in the past, verifying eligibility in groups of 500.
The federal dollars should start coming in by the end of the year.
People who wish to check their wait list status can email DDS.Waitlist@okdhs.org and an intake worker will contact them.