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State Disability News Highlights

By Diane McComb posted 11-05-2015 03:50 PM


State Disability News Highlights for Period ending 11/06/2015


Lead Story:  Pennsylvania

Virginia Brown, Director of the Bureau of Policy and Regulatory Management informed the subcommittee that DHS has decided to pursue a concurrent 1915b and 1915c waiver to implement managed care with HCBS. A 1915b waiver allows the state to implement mandatory managed care. A 1915c waiver addresses eligibility and providing LTSS in the community. Currently there are five Pennsylvania Medicaid waivers under 1915c. These will be combined into one 1915c waiver for Community HealthChoices and DHS will develop a 1915b waiver. Both waivers will be released for Public Comment before they are submitted.



A new program from incubator Innovation Pavilion helps people with disabilities make their way into the job/tech field. Rachel Isaman decided to run a pilot program in early 2015 of the program Fit2aT, which trains people at a disadvantage to learn the skills to get jobs at tech companies. "When we look at our niche communities -- specifically, veterans, people with disabilities, people on the spectrum or single moms -- they double if not triple or more the national average for unemployment," Isaman said. Eight people were in the first training session. One of them has a story that's almost unbelievable. Eugene Leyba was hit by a car in 1996. He awoke four months later in the hospital with total memory loss. He had to learn how to walk, eat and take a job all over. At age 44, he made it through the Fit2aT program and is now contracting for tech company iBeta. "I'm still learning every day," said Leyba. "I don't know what everyone knows at 44. I'm 20. That's how it goes." Leyba did gain several certifications from community college and even got his bachelor’s degree after his accident. However, he credits Innovation Pavilion with helping him on his new career path. "When doing this research we picked these communities based off the lack of availability for opportunities, the lack of training programs as well as kind of cross-referencing this with unemployment rates," said Isaman. Isaman said the program was successful. Most of the people went on to take jobs in the tech field.  Innovation Pavilion plans to have another Fit2aT in early 2016. They expect 50 people will be in that class.



When Florida cut $100 million from its mental programs and fired 1/3 of its workers, patients paid the price – sometimes with their lives.  Since 2009 injuries and violent incidents have been the rule resulting in deaths of many patients and a baby.  To read more -   



More money and major reforms will be needed to stem violence and abuse in state mental hospitals portrayed in a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune, state lawmakers say. The investigation — “Insane. Invisible. In danger.” — shows how violence plagues the state mental hospitals, where $100 million in budget cuts and years of neglect have put patients and staff in danger. Further, reporters found cases where details about patient deaths were sealed by the department, even when employees made mistakes, or delayed calling 911. “I think they really bring into focus some of the tragedies that have happened in the system, and you can’t help but be very upset by reading them and seeing the videos, especially. It’s very, very distressing,” said Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, chair of the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. “There are funding issues and appropriations issues that need to be addressed.” Not every member of the Legislature is optimistic that changes will happen soon, however. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said it could take even more tragedy to force lawmakers into action. To read more -



A “Conversations That Matter” town hall meant to focus on providing resources to Georgians impacted by developmental disabilities and planning the future for those individuals is coming to Lee County Thursday, and those close to the topic are able to come with questions. All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) will be hosting the event, set for 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at The Bindery at Oakland Library in Leesburg.  AADD officials say planning for the future is important for those with developmental disabilities to ensure inclusion and involvement in Georgia communities. The meetings are meant to help families prepare by understanding the current services available — in addition to upcoming services in the pipeline — and how various programs can help. Officials said the program is also designed to provide information to help foster collaboration between community members and professionals working on issues related to employment and developmental disabilities. It is held in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Kathy Keeley, executive director of AADD, said the town hall meetings — including presentations and dialogue — are in the 15th year. In recent years, meetings have been held in Valdosta rather than Leesburg. The organization is held on the mindset that knowledge is power, especially when caring for someone with developmental disabilities.



The state of Iowa agreed Monday to pay $235,000 to settle a lawsuit brought about by a woman who says she was locked in state isolation cells for more than nine months as a juvenile. “Not that I’m happy doing it but … we had a very bad situation and it’s probably a fair settlement,” said Dave Roederer, head of the Iowa Department of Management and member of a three-member Iowa Appeal Board that approved the payment. Jessica Turner, 21, of Okoboji filed a lawsuit last year alleging that the state repeatedly violated state laws and federal regulations on the use of isolation at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. She says she spent 280 of her 528 days at the facility in an isolation cell. Gov. Terry Branstad ordered the home closed in January 2014 after a series of Des Moines Register investigations  detailed its use of long-term isolation and failure to comply with federal special-education laws. Turner suffered oxygen deprivation at birth and experienced several psychiatric hospitalizations during her childhood. In March of 2011, at age 16, she was sent to the juvenile home after being charged with two counts of assault causing bodily injury. While there, she was diagnosed with a mild cognitive disability and a behavioral disorder, according to her lawsuit.



Thousands of people who live with a developmental disability are waiting for help from the state of Kansas. The problem first began in 1998, when Winfield State Hospital shut down. At that time, 50 people with developmental disabilities were placed on a wait list for services. Cynthia Prusik is just one of those who was told that if she wanted her son to get the help he needs, she'd have to get in line. Tim Wood, director of the Community Developmental Disability Organization, said additional funding is what Kansas needs to make an impact on its list. "For 15 to 20 years, there's not been a huge priority placed on bringing people off the waiting list," Wood said. "To be honest with you, it's just been underfunded for decades."  "The first tragedy came when my son was diagnosed with autism," Prusik said. "The second tragedy came when the state of Kansas told me, ‘You'll have to wait 10 years for help.’" Prusik's oldest son, McKinnon, was diagnosed with autism at just 2 years old. Prusik said she signed him up for the developmental disabilities waiver when he became eligible three years later. McKinnon, now 12, continues to wait. "Financially, it's been a struggle for our family," Prusik said. "I was working a full-time job when we found out about the autism. I had to quit. My full-time job is managing my son's autism." Kari Bruffett, secretary of Aging and Disability Services, said focusing solely on the dollars isn't going to help. She admits the state can do better. "That's why we're looking at waiver integration and thinking we can do a better job," Bruffett said. The new waiver integration program would allow the state to focus on how the funds are being distributed. "Our real approach is trying to provide services better so we can reduce costs," Bruffett said. "We can then use those savings to reduce the waiting list." In the meantime, families continue to wait.



By the middle of next month, Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature will start coping with a current fiscal year budget shortfall that totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  The state is expected to downgrade its tax collection and other revenue projections because of falling oil prices Nov. 16. A few days later, the Jindal administration will present a plan to deal with the state's financial shortfall on Nov. 20.   Just four months into the current fiscal cycle, Louisiana is already facing a looming budget hole of $412 million to $622 million. The figure is a result of funding deficits and shortages across many areas of state government.    In the latest bad financial news, the Jindal administration told the Legislature's budget committees Friday morning (Oct. 30) the state will have to absorb a $117 million deficit from the last fiscal cycle. Louisiana residents and businesses apparently cashed in on state tax credits and other benefits at a higher rate than anticipated during the last fiscal year, probably because they knew the Legislature had already voted to scale back these programs. Many took advantage of their film tax credit program, in particular, before it became less generous on July 1.   The governor will likely to be able to tap the state's "rainy day" fund to address some of the fiscal crisis before he leaves office in January. He is also able to make across-the-board agency cuts and take money from certain protected funds to help fill the gap.   But the $117 million budget deficit from last year is a relatively small portion of a much larger midyear financial crisis facing Louisiana this year. Dropping oil prices, a shortfall in health care funding and a few smaller items have driven the current overall budget gap much higher -- into the hundreds of millions of dollars.  To read more -



Maine has too few workers to attract new businesses and to support its aging population. At the same time, a significant number of people who could be employed are not: Maine has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the nation among its disabled population. Leaving these residents out of the workforce is bad for the state’s stagnant economy and bad for those with mental and physical impairments who would like to be active participants in their communities. In 2013, 31 percent of working-age disabled adults were in the Maine workforce, according to the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, compiled by Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. The highest rate, nearly 53 percent, was in North Dakota. Maine had the largest gap in the nation between its overall adult workplace participation (78.8 percent) and the participation rate of disabled adults in 2013. The percentage of adults in Maine with disabilities — 15.5 percent — is higher than the national average of 10 percent. Maine’s workforce is shrinking, in some cases leaving businesses scrambling to find workers. Two years ago, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Development Foundation issued a call to grow the state’s workforce by 65,000 by 2020 in part through greater workforce participation among seniors, veterans and those with disabilities. In the report “Making Maine Work: Growing Maine’s Workforce,” the organizations said businesses should increase workforce participation among the disabled to 50 percent by 2020, representing 10,000 more people in the Maine workforce. This is an achievable goal, but to get there it will take more than good intentions. Maine needs a concrete plan with one entity in charge of setting priorities, advocating for funding and policy changes — if needed — and tracking progress. Many of the states with high rates of workforce participation among the disabled, such as North Dakota and South Dakota, have very low unemployment rates and high demand for workers. Still, North Dakota also offers tax credits and other financial incentives to support businesses that hire disabled workers. To read more -



For the first time in a decade, Maryland expects to begin the budget year with a surplus — and a big one at that. Democratic legislative leaders announced Monday that the state expects to take in half a billion dollars more than it budgeted this year, and they also foresee another $215 million surplus for next fiscal year. The extra cash — more than 10 times what lawmakers expected — touched off partisan bickering over the best way to tend to Maryland's finances and renewed a rift between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and the state's top Democrats. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch joined other leaders in urging Hogan to send more money to local school systems. "Did anyone campaign on the fact they were going to cut education?" Busch asked rhetorically at an Annapolis news conference. "The answer's no. … Kids deserve [the money]. It's there for them to have it. It sits there."  In this year's budget, Hogan reduced funding that Baltimore and some other local school systems had hoped to receive under a formula that sends additional money where it costs more to run schools. The General Assembly set aside $68 million to restore the aid, but Hogan has declined to spend it. A Hogan spokesman said Monday the governor stands by that decision. "The governor has made up his mind," spokesman Matthew A. Clark said. As for next year, Clark said, Hogan would reveal his spending plans in January when he presents his next budget. Higher-than-expected income taxes, mostly from capital gains, are the biggest driver of the surplus, said Warren Deschenaux, executive director of the Department of Legislative Services. To read more -



Governor Charlie Baker signed a $326 million spending bill into law Monday, boosting funding for the state’s Medicaid program, the troubled Department of Children and Families, county sheriffs, and programs to address the scourge of opioid overdoses in Massachusetts. In addition to the $326 million in spending, the bill, which closes the books on the fiscal year that ended in June, also deposits $120 million toward the state’s rainy day fund and another $113 million to help pay down some of state’s debts early. Those actions have been championed by budget watchdogs. “I am proud to sign an end-of-year supplemental budget that makes investments to combat opioid abuse and support the mission of DCF, while also depositing money into the [rainy day fund] to bolster our commitment to fiscal responsibility,” the governor said in a written statement. The governor also vetoed two sections of the legislation. He nixed a change in Medicaid payment rates that would have boosted how much some, but not all, home health agencies receive.  And he excised a mandate on how a certain small pool of money had to be spent.



The Supreme Court granted Ernest Lee Johnson a temporary stay of execution on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, based on a petition regarding the lethal injection drugs' impact on his partial brain tumor.  Nine months ago I found myself crushed and crying over a beer on a cool, dark January night in Texas. The state of Texas had just strapped my client's body to a gurney, pumped poison through his veins and called it justice despite his well-documented intellectual disability. Hours earlier, the courts had not yet finalized his execution, and Robert whispered misplaced hope through metal bars, telling me he was glad he still "had a chance." Decades earlier, the Texas Youth Commission had labeled Robert "fairly obviously retarded." Yet no courts were moved, and Texas carried out his execution, paying no heed to the Supreme Court's rulings that disqualify people with intellectual disabilities from the death penalty. Now the state of Missouri is showing the same disregard for the law and morality. Ernest Johnson, whose intellectual disability is clear, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection sometime after 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Ernest has scored under or around 70 on IQ tests throughout his life. He has shown typical signs of intellectual disability since he was a schoolboy: He struggled to speak and walk at the usual age. Young Ernest couldn't keep himself clean. His school held him back a grade twice and placed him in special education. He was easily led by kids who took advantage of his low intellect, this manipulation often turning to bullying. School officials recorded his intellectual problems and tested his IQ, finding scores on two occasions that placed Ernest in the lowest two percent of intellect for children his age with an IQ under or around 70. As an adult, Ernest consistently scored in this same range on several IQ tests over a 10-year period. Signs of "intellectual disability" can sometimes stick out to us as lay persons, but the term has a scientific definition and criteria, created by the professionals who regularly diagnose and work with this population. Their criteria require a valid IQ score of around 70 (plus or minus 5 points), significant problems with functioning independently (known by the experts as adaptive functioning), and evidence the condition began before the age of 18. Ernest Johnson fits all of these criteria.  But here's why Ernest still faces execution, instead of life behind bars: The clear science behind intellectual disability criteria too often gets buried under other considerations. For example, in Ernest's case, when the jury was deciding if he was intellectually disabled, the prosecutor waved around crime scene photos of the victims and argued "to decide it's more likely than not that this guy is mentally retarded is an insult, an insult to these victims." To read more -



Montana will become the 30th state to expand its Medicaid program after federal health officials on Monday approved provisions that include requiring beneficiaries to pay premiums that amount to 2 percent of their income. Gov. Steve Bullock announced the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' approval of the federal waiver needed for state officials to start enrollment immediately and begin coverage on Jan. 1. "I am pleased to stand before you today to say that for over 70,000 Montanans, the wait is finally over," Bullock told a large crowd of supporters in the Capitol. The Democratic governor said gaining federal approval of the Montana plan was difficult after the nearly three-year fight to pass the compromise legislation. "This is a victory that at times seemed uncertain, but never seemed unnecessary," he said. The governor's office has estimated that 70,000 people or more would be eligible for coverage under the expansion, but legislative fiscal analysts predicted about 45,700 would actually participate over the next four years. Medicaid expansion was a key part of President Barack Obama's health care reform law, but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 made it optional for states. So far, 29 other states and the District of Columbia have expanded their programs. Six of those states received federal waivers allowing them flexibility in designing their programs.  Obama administration officials encouraged other states to follow. To read more -



A request for proposal (RFP) was issued by the State of Nebraska on October 21, 2015, for the statewide rebid of their Medicaid managed care programs, integrating physical and behavioral health for nearly all Medicaid beneficiaries. The integrated statewide program, to be known as Heritage Health, will cover around 240,000 members with more than $1 billion in annual Medicaid spending when fully implemented. A long-planned separate RFP for managed long-term supports and services (MLTSS) is still expected to be released in the coming year, as MLTSS services are not included in this RFP.  Heritage Health will cover nearly all categories of Medicaid assistance, including children, families, individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled (ABD), CHIP, foster care populations, individuals covered under home and community based services (HCBS) waivers (including individuals intellectual/developmental disabilities and those with traumatic brain injuries), and enrollees in the breast and cervical cancer program (BCCP).  Based on preliminary data for covered populations provided by the state, the blended per-member per-month (PMPM) rate for Heritage Health is anticipated to be roughly $400, with estimated annual spending of more than $1.1 billion.  The only populations excluded from mandatory Heritage Health enrollment are Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) enrollees, Medicare enrollees with Medicaid coinsurance/deductibles only, and non-citizens only eligible for Medicaid for emergency reasons.



Marsha Rodriguez considers the home caregiver who visits her five days a week a lifeline. Rodriguez, 72, suffers from a hereditary protein deficiency that makes it difficult for her to breathe. She needs oxygen and has limited mobility because of several herniated discs. As a recipient of a Home and Community Based Waiver, which uses Medicaid funding, Rodriguez receives services from a home caregiver who helps her bathe, dress and accomplish small tasks such as doing laundry or cutting vegetables. What this means: Rodriguez can continue living at home rather than in a nursing home. “I feel blessed to have this program,” Rodriguez said this week at a Nevadans for the Common Good meeting. Members of the nonpartisan group of faith-based organizations and nonprofits worry that Medicaid recipients who are elderly, blind or disabled may be in danger of losing services if the state transitions the population to a Medicaid managed care program. The Aging and Disability Services Division operates waiver programs that provide nonmedical services to elderly, blind or disabled people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to remain living at home. An Assembly bill that proposed shifting this population to Medicaid managed care died in committee without a public hearing, but similar language was tacked onto the final appropriations bill in the most recent legislative session. The law permits the state to implement Medicaid privatization for this population. It’s unclear whether the proposed change would affect all Medicaid recipients who are elderly, blind or disabled or just the subset of that population who receive nonmedical services through waiver programs, said Jane Gruner, administrator for the Aging and Disability Services Division. The division supports three waiver programs that serve 4,443 people.



An injury at age 5 cost Jadon Wade his ability to talk or move his arms and legs, but not his infectious laugh. Jadon delights in “knock-knock” jokes. Now 12, he’s happiest swinging in a hammock alongside his grandmother and legal guardian, Nancy Richardson, at their Delaware home. But if the Ohio Department of Medicaid follows through with its plan to stop funding 68 hours of nursing care for Jadon each week at home, Richardson fears that her grandson might have to move to an institution. Richardson, a full-time hospice nurse, said she is her family’s sole breadwinner. In addition to Jadon’s mother, who no longer lives in Ohio, her children include a son in college and a daughter in high school who also help care for Jadon. She has appealed the state’s decision, saying that her grandson has seizures and must have his airway suctioned every few minutes. She doubts that an aide — who would cost Ohio Medicaid far less than a nurse — has sufficient training to meet his needs. “His health is at stake,” Richardson said. “He’s suffered enough.” These are uncertain times for many medically fragile Ohioans and their families who rely on nursing services through the state’s Medicaid program. “We’ve heard from many families across the state that nursing services are being reduced or eliminated altogether,” said Kevin Truitt, an attorney with Disability Rights Ohio. It’s unclear how many people might be affected statewide, but state officials insist there’s been no policy change when it comes to private-duty nursing care — in-home skilled nursing provided to Medicaid enrollees who need more extensive health-care services. According to the Ohio Department of Medicaid, 2,591 Ohioans received private-duty nursing care through Medicaid during the state fiscal year that ended on June 30. At least seven individuals in Delaware County have been affected by a proposed reduction or elimination of their nursing services in recent months, with the potential of 40 families to be affected countywide once the state takes over reviews of their care needs from the local county board, said Melinda Draper, Medicaid-waiver coordinator with the county Board of Developmental Disabilities. “There definitely have been changes,” Draper said. The Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities has heard reports from some counties of reductions in nursing services and is looking into the matter to see if it’s a statewide trend, according to a spokesman. To read more -



Gross receipts to the state treasury in October were more than 9 percent lower than for the same month a year ago, state Treasurer Ken Miller said Tuesday. “This is the first month that all major revenue streams have shown contraction since we began tracking Gross Receipts to the Treasury in March of 2011,” Miller said. Tuesday’s report deepened the gloom descending on the state’s revenue and economic outlook, and it heightened concerns that the state will have to contend with declining revenue for the foreseeable future. Miller said the state collected $918.1 million in October, $95.4 million less than in October 2014. Gross revenue includes all taxes received by the state, including local sales and use taxes subsequently remitted to those governments, and remissions in the form of individual and corporate tax rebates and refunds. It also includes money directly apportioned to various government functions, primarily education and transportation. About half of gross revenue makes its way into the general revenue fund, which is the primary source for legislative appropriations.



After decreasing last year, the waiting list for a state program that provides services to Oklahomans with developmental and intellectual disabilities has grown again—to the highest level it's ever been. As of Oct. 15, the wait time to receive services through the state’s Developmental Disabilities Services Division is nearly a decade. The number of people on the waiting list has grown from 6,992 in 2014 to 7,239 this year, according to figures from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) taken from a point in time each year. “When we got on the waiting list, they said it would be several years, so I knew going into it,” said Broken Arrow resident Olivia Morgan, whose son Josiah Melton, 9, has been on the waiting list since April 2008. “Hopefully, we’re getting close, because we’re seven years in.” While there have been many efforts in the past decade to lower the wait, the state Legislature appropriated a total of $3 million over the last three fiscal years to DHS to address the wait list. In the midst of fiscal year 2015, the money ran out and the list began to grow by the end of the calendar year. The additional funding seemed to work. In 2014, that list – which contains both children and adults - shrank, DHS records show. The number of people on the list dropped from 7,064 in August of 2013 to 6,992 in July 2014. To read more -



Gov. Kate Brown spent time chatting with Oregon's largest statewide business group Wednesday, laying out a tightly focused agenda for 2016 that's just as notable for what it doesn't include as what it does. Off the list? Brown, helping to kick off Associated Oregon Industries' annual convention, bluntly said a transportation funding package sought by business and labor groups alike should wait until 2017.  That would stave off talk of a gas tax — a near-miss during the 2015 legislative session — until after next fall's election. That's also when oil lobbyists are mulling over a ballot measure that would repeal the state's low-carbon fuel standard, an issue that earned the ire of Republicans and snarled transportation talks.  "I'm counting on business leaders including those in this room, to work with me and my legislative colleagues to address Oregon's very pressing transportation needs in the 2017 session," Brown said, making clear "rumors" of those clean fuels ballot measures played a role in the timing. "We simply can't afford to delay any longer."  Instead, the governor said, she wants to spend next year's short legislative session working with lawmakers and business leaders to compromise on a minimum wage increase and head off dueling ballot proposals next year that would raise Oregon's wage as high as $15.  She also wants more emphasis on addressing Oregon's housing crisis, building off a $60 million-plus investment in affordable housing approved this summer. And she said she's looking to answer last month's mass shooting at Roseburg's Umpqua Community College with a "proposal that will improve public safety" on Oregon's campuses. Brown — a Democrat running next year for the right to finish Gov. John Kitzhaber's fourth term — offered that agenda during a speech and question-and-answer session with a group that's maintained collegial ties with Democrats but traditionally favored Republican candidates and causes. To read more -


Rhode Island

State fiscal experts are predicting that Governor Raimondo's plan to cut millions of dollars from the state's Medicaid program will fall short of financial expectations in its first year. Raimondo's "Reinventing Medicaid" initiative called for $70.5 million in general revenue savings in the program in the fiscal year that began July 1. Last week, officials from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) said they predicted the office would fall about $1.8 million short of that benchmark included in the fiscal 2016 budget. On Wednesday, the state's Revenue and Caseload Estimating Conference concluded that the shortfall will be even larger. "Right now we've come to an agreement that we think they're a little further behind than they said they were," state Budget Officer Thomas A. Mullaney said. "We're closer to $10 million we don't think they're achieving. They think it's $2 million." The conference of experts from the state Budget Office, House and Senate is held twice year and serves as a reality check on what the state's revenues and expenses are expected to be. Mullaney said the conference's estimates assume EOHHS won't be able to make up the shortfall. Raimondo's plan called for millions in cuts while providing equal or better care to the 260,000 state residents in the government health insurance program for the poor, the elderly and the disabled.



The treatment of children and adults with developmental disabilities is a sad chapter in our country's history. For generations, the practice was to shut away people born with disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and many more. People were routinely beaten, over-medicated, put in isolation, and humiliated. The custom of hiding these disabled citizens and treating them poorly began to change in the 1960s and 1970s, when science began to show that this population could live successfully in our communities, supported by services such as medical assistance and help with daily living tasks. Thus began campaigns to close institutions where those with developmental or intellectual disabilities were sent to live. Sixteen states have closed every single one of their institutions, including Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Alabama, and Minnesota. Fircrest in Shoreline, the Rainier School in Buckley, the Yakima Valley School in Selah and Lakeland Village in Spokane are the four institutions Washington still runs for people with developmental disabilities. Roughly 800 residents live in these centers, which are staffed by state workers. That's more institutions in operation than nearly every other state in the country. Only a handful, including Arkansas, Texas, California and New York have more. It's true that many have left Washington's institutions. At one point 4,000 people were living in them. Some of these people moved to homes in neighborhoods, places that have caregivers, but allow residents more independence. But the advocacy of parents and guardians of residents still living in institutions and the unions representing state workers are determined to keep the last of the institutions open in Washington. They say this is where residents with the highest needs can be served in the best way - despite the science showing otherwise. In the coming weeks, KING 5's Susannah Frame will bring viewers the stories of current and former residents. She will talk with families, caregivers and experts who have spent their careers studying the best ways to care for the developmentally disabled. She'll talk with families who are committed to keeping the institutions open for their loved ones. Susannah will visit other states that have mothballed their institutions, and she will show us the committed caretakers at some of Washington's four remaining centers. The first "Last of the Institutions" story airs Monday, Nov. 2, at 11 p.m. on KING 5 News. It will re-air on Tuesday in the 5 p.m. newscast.




11-12-2015 04:06 PM

Thanks, Bonnie!

11-09-2015 12:23 PM

Diane, I am always so thankful for your environmental scanning that brings us the lay of the land from across the country. It is invariably helpful as we struggle each day to understand the trends and pitfalls being experienced by others. Keep up this great column!!