Weeks ago, Oklahomans with disabilities went to their mailboxes and found a letter from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). The letter told them that on December 1st, their in-home support waivers will end, and they should prepare. This has caused panic throughout the community, and many have responded by speaking out to lawmakers, but is there anything left that they can do to prevent the loss of this essential waiver?
Can In-Home Support Waivers Be Saved from DHS Cuts?
Once again, the state of Oklahoma finds itself in a budget crisis. Several measures that the legislature cooked up to solve budget problems last year were declared unconstitutional this year. Factor in that and the discovery of mismanaged funds at the Oklahoma Department of Health, and our state is in considerable fiscal trouble. The threat is so great, officials at the OKDHS are looking at cuts to many services just to make ends meet.
One of the big services that could be on the chopping block is the in-home support waiver. This program allows around 20,000 Oklahomans with disabilities to live at home, and if cut, could have a lasting effect on people all over the state. Workers may have to quit their jobs in order to care for their loved ones, and many people with disabilities may be forced out of their homes and into institutions. This prospect has advocates struggling to find a way to keep these waivers from disappearing.
How Can DHS Cuts Be Stopped?
The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken steps to motivate lawmakers to find a solution. It has asked OKDHS to rescind the letter notifying Oklahomans that their waivers will no longer be available after December 1st. The organization goes even further, say that the move to cut these waivers without due process would be illegal and unconstitutional, so the ACLU has threatened to file a federal lawsuit if the program is cut.
Do you think a federal lawsuit will be a solution to the cuts that may be forced on the OKDHS? Are there other solutions lawmakers have yet to consider? The Tulsa disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman will continue searching for the answers Oklahomans with disabilities need on this issue.