SACRAMENTO CA - After years of budget cuts and program reductions, the Legislature today passed a developmental disabilities (DD) funding proposal and managed care organization (MCO) funding reform, creating a package that breathes new life into a system many felt was on the brink of collapse. When paired with federal matching funds, the increase will be $400 to $500 million.
"This is a huge step forward, and it came not a moment too soon for people who need these services," said Dr. April Lopez, Chair of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. "While we are still a long way from adequate funding, today's vote is welcome news. A lot of work went into forging this agreement. Governor Brown and the Legislature showed tremendous leadership."
Some of the many programs included in the landmark deal include funding for pay increases for community providers and regional centers, supported and independent living services, transportation services, and respite. Efforts will also be made to hire and retain bilingual employees at regional centers and educate people through cultural competency training. The companion MCO reform bill is a key piece of the plan and will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in added revenue to be funneled into the ailing DD system.
"The number one desire for people with disabilities and their families is employment," said Dr. Lopez. Funding will restore supported employment program rates to 2006 levels before rate reductions, create incentive payments for competitive integrated employment opportunities, and will support internships for individuals with developmental disabilities. "California is an employment-first state and this package funds our values," said Dr. Lopez. "Thank you to the leaders who heard the Council as we stressed the importance of employment."
The State Council on Developmental Disabilities has been working with the Administration, members of the Legislature, and other advocates to outline the many problems facing the DD system and prioritize solutions. "Helping people with I/DD has always been a bipartisan issue," concluded Dr. Lopez.
The State Council on Developmental Disabilities (SCDD) is established by state and federal law as an independent state agency to ensure that people with developmental disabilities and their families receive the services and supports they need.