Health and Human Services

Developmental disability waiver advances

A bill intended to supplement existing services for children with developmental disabilities in Nebraska advanced from select file Feb. 1.

Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh

LB376, as introduced last session by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh and amended on general file, would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a three-year Medicaid waiver to start a family support program for developmental disability services. The program would:
• have an annual budget for long-term services and supports capped at $10,000 per person;
• allow approximately 850 individuals currently on the state’s wait list to participate;
• offer Medicaid eligibility for children with disabilities by disregarding parental income;
• be administered by the state Division of Developmental Disabilities of DHHS; and
• allow families to self-direct services.

The family support program would be set at an intermediate care facility institutional level of care.

Sen. John Arch of La Vista, chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee, offered an amendment that would prevent the program from going forward unless the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approve the state’s waiver application or another funding mechanism is authorized.

Sen. John Stinner of Gering supported LB376 and the amendment, calling it a “creative” solution to the lengthy waiting list for services. Stinner added that DHHS has two funding sources that could potentially supplement the bill’s costs.

The amendment also would add provisions of LB1004, introduced by the committee, which would require DHHS to engage a nationally recognized and independent consultant to evaluate Nebraska’s developmental disabilities system. The consultant would complete their report no later than Dec. 31, 2023.

Arch said the study could help determine if there are more cost-effective ways for Nebraska to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

“We have a labyrinth of waivers that have been layered on top of each other over decades. We believe that it is time to step back and do a thorough evaluation of our system,” Arch said.

Following the 45-0 adoption of the amendment, lawmakers advanced LB376 to final reading on a voice vote.

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