In ending the contracts with four service providers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities enrolled in the Developmentally Disabled Waiver (DDW) program, Department of Health Secretary Patrick Allen and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have not spoken on the detrimental impact to this population and the effects the closure of these agencies has. This harsh decision has not taken the population into account, and in turn has caused a significant debilitation for participants.
Key facts that were conveniently left out by the governor was the impact of her goal to eliminate the 14-year waitlist for the DDW. The “super allocation” plan was implemented at the beginning of 2022 with the goal to remove 700 individuals off the waitlist quarterly. Not only has this plan flooded the system preventing care for individuals with disabilities coming onto the waiver, it has also caused a larger issue with providers, or the lack of for those already on the waiver.
The governor spoke of holding everyone accountable for this situation but conveniently left herself and the agencies in charge of these providers out. Many of the 1000 visits spoken about have been at all hours. If families wish to deny entry, they have the police called on them. How is this benefiting participants?
A majority of DDW participants struggle processing sudden unexpected change. Providers have had to go onto moratorium and have experienced a lack of support from the Human Services and Developmentally Disabled Supports divisions and DOH. This plan has been the greatest downfall for the DDW and the participants, who have historically thrived within it. The impact is much larger than what is being provided to the community and is a disservice to the individuals on it. Now there are 708 more clients being thrown into a system that was already stretched thin to provide support to their current clients. In reality, they are losing the support they have chosen.
These actions are no different than the changes implemented in the behavioral health field years ago, which the effects are still being seen today. Case management does an in-home visit once a month; most providers spend an hour in the home. This time is used to review and assess for Abuse Neglect and Exploitation (ANE), and providers are required to report immediately. The residential agency meets with the participants monthly and assesses for ANE; they are also the ones who hire the direct support for living services.
During COVID changes within standard practice occurred. With the governor’s continued renewal of the public health order; state agencies continued to allow providers to continue video visits up until March 10th. It was in the standards that the participant had the freedom of choice to do video visits, the state has now taken another choice away in response to the closure of these agencies.
The governor's use of her sister as an example is exploitative to benefit herself and agenda. I recommend she take the required trainings every provider is expected to take to touch up on her ability to really speak on this issue. It is obvious she is not aware of the signs of ANE and the standards put on providers throughout the DDW.
The real culprit of this situation are these departments and the lack of leadership they have.
The governor flooded the system with clients New Mexico was unprepared to care for. If the governor wants to make a real difference, she needs to do the work of all providers.
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