From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
The families and loved ones of thousands of Arkansas citizens have something wonderful to look forward to in the new year.
I’m talking about more than 3,000 people with developmental and intellectual disabilities who are currently on the waiting list for services in their home and community.
Arkansas is getting a waiver from federal authorities to open up new slots.
The governor has thrown his support behind a proposal to dedicate more than $36 million in Medicaid funding, in order to pay for additional services.
The legislature will act on the proposal during the upcoming fiscal session, which begins in mid-February.
By June of 2025, everyone who is now on the waiting list will be receiving services.
I was at the press conference where the governor announced the details of his plan, and it was one of the proudest moments of my legislature career.
In private discussions, the governor had pledged his support for increased Medicaid funding to reduce or eliminate the waiting list for services.
For many of us, it was the critical factor in our support for the governor’s massive income tax reductions in the recent special session.
At the governor’s request, the legislature lowered state income taxes by about $500 million a year.
It sounds good on paper, but a cut in state revenue of that amount can jeopardize essential state services for our most vulnerable citizens.
That’s why we approached the governor to fight for more care and treatment of people with disabilities.
This plan is a godsend to those people and their families. Being able to receive care in the home, or in a nearby facility close to home, will bring positive changes to their lives. They won’t have to rely solely on institutionalized treatment.
For years I’ve been working to expand services for children and adults on the autism spectrum. It breaks my heart that the parents of autistic children have one of the highest divorce rates in the nation, due to the emotional and physical exhaustion of round-the-clock care.
Taking those families off the waiting list, and providing them vital services in the home, is cause for hope.
I appreciate the governor’s sincere efforts on our behalf, and those of his administration. We also need to thank the many volunteers and advocates for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities deserve.
Thanks to them and their hard work, 2022 will start with hope and promise for thousands of Arkansas families.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.