Breaking News
More () »

Clearing the waiting lists is a step in the right direction

Lawmakers are trying to tackle the first steps of reforming a very complex system.

LIVERMORE, Maine — State lawmakers are back in session in Augusta. One of the issues they will try to tackle is clearing the lists of people with the highest needs waiting for services.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of October 1, there are about 3,000 adults and children on a waiting list for health, home and community-based services.

That includes job training, housing and providing services in the home from behavioral health care workers. 

Some patients have been waiting for months to years. 

A bill sponsored by Democratic Senator Rebecca Millett would eliminate waiting lists for adults with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, and other Related Conditions and Brain Injury.

Parents are hopeful addressing the needs of adults with disabilities now will build a better system for their children when they become adults.

Aranka Maltocsy’s son Colby has Down Syndrome.  

"The infrastructure will be placed to carry his life forward. He has so much potential," Aranka Matolscy said.

State Representative Tina Riley's son has Muscular Dystrophy. A genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.  He is now 19-years old. Under the Family Service Provider option, Riley is paid by a state approved provider to help care for her son at home. Much needed income for the family, Riley had to give up her full-time job because of her son's medical needs. 

Under her bill, parents of children 18 and under with intellectual disabilities and medical issues - would qualify to be paid under the program - up to forty hours a week. A new option for families whose children are suffering waiting for services. 

"The parent is right there any way providing the work, this way the parent can get paid to do the job," State. Representative Tina Riley, (D) Jay said.

Another area of concern, low reimbursement rates for direct care workers and attracting qualified staff. A commission that focused on workforce shortage in Maine is recommending that DHHS increasing starting pay for direct care workers.

Parents are hopeful this the beginning of building a better system for children and adults with disabilities. They say is long overdue.

RELATED: Lists to Nowhere: Mainers with high needs waiting years for services

RELATED: State commission hopes to shorten waiting lists for kids in need of services

Before You Leave, Check This Out