February 3, 2023
Nate Crippes / Public Affairs Supervising Attorney
Andrew Riggle / Public Policy Advocate
(801) 363-1347 / (800) 662-9080
Compared to other Western states, Utah serves the lowest percentage of its intellectually and developmentally disables residents, at around 7%.
Unsurprisingly, over the last decade, the Division of Services for People with Disabilities waiting list has more than doubled, yet the number of individuals served has only increased by about a third. While only slightly more than a quarter of those on the list are waiting for more intensive services, the average wait time is now about 5.5 years (with some approaching 20 years or longer).
Rep. Ward’s Services for People with Disabilities Amendments will, at a minimum, help the state keep pace with the need for community supports as individuals live longer and their caregivers grow older. It may also help the state meet its obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act to serve a person in the most integrated setting appropriate and make reasonable progress on moving individuals from the waiting list into services.
We hope you’ll support this bill, but we also hope this is just the first step. While there are 4,000-plus people waiting for services, we know there are more with support needs. So we ask you to view HB 242 as one piece, not the only piece, of a strategy for the waiting list each year. Please continue making an appropriation for individuals who may not be in danger, but whose support system still needs help.
Similarly, don’t forget your predecessors created the limited supports waiver a few years ago. It’s designed to offer the kind of lower-cost supports families need to keep their loved ones at home, and, hopefully, delay or prevent the need for more costly services. Last year was the first year it received significant funding.
Finally, thanks to Social Services Appropriations and former Senator Iwamoto, a long-term services and supports study is in process. It’s specifically designed to help you create a roadmap for making these kind of difficult decisions and develop a plan for implementing them.
With this said, we appreciate Rep. Ward proposing a novel approach to addressing a critical and long-standing issue. We urge your support.