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Senate Panel Passes Bill For Waiting Period On Services For Some With Intellectual Disabilities


As Oklahoma lawmakers start to consider this session’s budget bills, a Senate panel advanced a proposal Friday to institute a five-year waiting period for new state residents in need of comprehensive services for kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. 

Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) said the waiting period is needed while the Department of Human Services reviews its 13-year waiting list for the programs, or roughly 6,000 applicants. Thompson said DHS has received $2 million a year for that study since he's been appropriations chair. He was named to that post in 2018.

Thompson said DHS will be able to make rules that say people filing taxes in Oklahoma are eligible, because he believes the issue is people crossing state lines — Arkansans getting services in Stilwell, for example.

"What we’re trying to say is — and we cannot do this retroactively — is for families that are moving here that need the services, we want you to have those services. We don’t want, though, just simply to say you can come into the state simply just to get those services while that you’re actually paying tax dollars in other states," Thompson said.

Sen. Julia Kirt (D-Oklahoma City) said the waiting list needs to be addressed, but people are leaving Oklahoma for those services, not moving here.

"People are not coming here because our services are so fabulous. We do not pay home health aides what they need, we do not have provider rates higher than other states. People are not begging to come here for services," Kirt said.

Democrats also questioned whether House Bill 2899 could be seen as discriminatory against people with intellectual disabilities and whether it runs afoul of state and federal law.

HB2899 passed the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget 12–5 on a party-line vote.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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