The ADvantage Waiver Program enables people with disabilities to live at home instead of living in an institution or nursing home. It enables an independent life for many, but with the budget problems the state of Oklahoma is having, this program has been threatened constantly. Is there anything that can be done to ensure the longevity of this vital service?
Continuing the Oklahoma ADvantage Waiver Program
By diverting Medicaid funds that would pay for nursing home and institutional care, the ADvantage program helps pay for in-home care services. Whether this is through aides, life alert, or meal delivery, many seniors and Oklahomans with disabilities rely on this program. Without it, they would be forced to move into nursing homes, yet in early November, participants received notice that the program would end December 1st.
Governor Mary Fallin prevented this elimination of services by signing part of a budget bill that allowed $27 million to be allocated to DHS. However, these extra funds are only expected to last till the end of February 2018. This could mean the program will be in jeopardy again if the State Legislature is unable to work out a budget deal by then. But some aren’t leaving the situation up to chance.
How Will the ADvantage Waiver Program Be Guarded?
The ACLU and the Oklahoma Disability Law Center filed a lawsuit to force Oklahoma to rescind the termination of service letters. Considering the Governor’s actions, this would seem like a win for the group, but they aren’t satisfied yet. The ACLU and OKDLC say that ending the waiver program would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, and so Oklahoma cannot cut the program ever.
Courtroom battles over this subject seem inevitable unless state lawmakers can work out a lasting solution for funding DHS. The department already has a $42 million deficit that it has to work through, and if it is forced to keep the ADvantage Waiver Program open despite budgetary problems, then other programs for people with disabilities could soon be on the chopping block.
This update was brought to you by the Tulsa disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman, P.C.