Public Comment / SSA: LTSS

Updated: 1 year ago
Public Policy

January 30, 2023
Nate Crippes / Public Affairs Supervising Attorney
Andrew Riggle / Public Policy Advocate
(801) 363-1347 / (800) 662-9080

Good morning, committee members. My name is Nate Crippes, and I’m the Public Affairs Supervising Attorney with the Disability Law Center.

Compared to other Western states, Utah serves the lowest percentage of its intellectually and developmentally disables residents, at around 7%. Unsurprisingly, over the last decade, the DSPD waiting list has more than doubled, yet the number of individuals served has only increased by about a third. Yet, only slightly more than a quarter of those on the list are waiting for more intensive services, the average wait time is now about 5.5 years, with some approaching 20 years or more. So we support the Governor’s request to bring 258 people of the waiting list, as well as Representative Ward’s HB 242, which would provide dedicated funding every year to bring up to 200 individuals off the waiting list.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the harm of facility-based care, with long-term care residents accounting for a disproportionate number COVID deaths. While facility-based care is, on average, two to five times more expensive than community-based support, we recognize that Utahns with disabilities, and the aging, rely on it now and will for the foreseeable future. So we want to make sure the quality of care improves for those who choose to remain. Thus, we support Sen. Weiler’s $2.7 million one-time request for the quality improvement incentives and the ICF daily rate increase of $2.3 million in the Governor’s budget.

Additionally, when individuals transition out of an ICF into community-based services, they might need additional support, so we support the $500,000-plus in the Governor’s budget for the Community Transition Waiver nursing rate increase. And, while community-based services providers strive to provide high quality care, help Utahns with disabilities be integrated, and ensure that they direct their own lives, for some families, providing the supports necessary comes better from a parent or guardian, which is why we support $1.7 million for SB 106 from Sen. Harper and Rep. Dailey-Provost to make the caregiver compensation program ongoing.

We also want to thank this Committee for the funding last year to study our long-term services and supports system, which is in the works. We hope this Committee will soon have a roadmap of how to improve the system overall. That said, we can get some good information on supported living and how it could help improve our system from the $2.36 million for the proposed respite and supported living pilot program for DSPD in the Governor’s budget.

We also support at least $1 million for Rep. Eliason’s HB 290, which could increase access to the Medically Complex Children’s Waiver for children across the State. And I want to note that we’ll be sending you all information on the challenges some families face with the Technology Dependent Waiver. I encourage you to read our letter and the letters from families, and we hope you’ll considered looking at this issue in the interim.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I’m open to any questions.