All but One House Democrat Voted Against Additional Funds for DD Waiver Caregivers and Clients

Last week New Mexico House Democrats (save one) voted to essentially kill a proposal to insure there were adequate funds for various elements of the Developmental Disabilities Waiver (DD Waiver) programs. 

They did so by way of a motion to table an amendment to House Bill 2 (the state budget bill), which would have added about $10 million to funding for the Developmental Disabled community.

Other than State Representative Representative Marian Matthews, the Democrats voted to table the amendment offered by Republican Representative John Block, who argued that it was needed to make certain there were sufficient state funds set aside for a fair and long overdue rate increase for provider agencies and direct care givers.

A vote to table is a parliamentary maneuver used mostly to kill a bill without having to say you directly voted to kill it – to many, including people in the DD Waiver community, this represents kind of a cowards way of voting against their needs.

Some House Democrats claimed that they were told the senate would fix it and that is why they voted the way they did.

The budget bill is currently in the Senate and The Candle will be reporting later today on what the Senate is actually doing – if anything – about the poor rates paid to provider agencies.

Advocates claim the insufficient rates further impede recruitment and retention of sufficient numbers of qualified staff needed to serve DD Waiver clients safely and humanely.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Democrats in the legislature ran in the last election claiming they had done away with a decades old DD Waiver “waiting list” comprised of thousands of developmentally disabled New Mexicans – some of them waiting over ten years to get services for which they were eligible, but never received due to legislatures’ year after year refusal to adequately budget.

NM Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales Presides at Senate Session

But, according to advocates for the DD Waiver community, state officials have not been honest about the “waiting list.”

In reality, advocates say, the state never created a serious plan or made the commitment to assure they could provide the services needed by the people who were exiting the waiting list.

“Reported increases in mistreatment of people in the waiver indicate a chronic lack of sufficient rates to care for those most vulnerable New Mexicans in a humane and dignified manner.

Just issuing a press release and voting to end the waiting list doesn’t fund the services to the people that were promised services,” stated one member of the DD Waiver community.

Similar sentiments were expressed over and over again by more than a dozen people The Candle has spoken with.

Those advocates who were interviewed did so condition their names would not be used due to their fear of retaliation from the Governor’s administration.

They expressed concern of the continued failure of state agencies to fulfill a mission for which they hold responsibilities – like act timely on funding authorizations.

They pointed to the situation that a full year after the legislature voted an additional $10.2 million in funding for rate increases, the Lujan Grisham administration has yet to provide the increase to the people that provide daily care for administer other important services for the Developmental Disabilities Waiver clients.

More reporting on these issues later today and through the budget process.