Contact: State Rep. Jon Echols
Office: (405) 557-7354
OKLAHOMA CITY – Floor Majority Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) and Rep. Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City) announced the formation of the Waiting List Caucus at the Oklahoma state Capitol. This bipartisan work group focuses on legislation that will annualize funding for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers.
Oklahomans with significant developmental disabilities can apply for a Medicaid funded HCBS waiver through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). Federal dollars pay for a majority of the costs of these waivers while the state funds the remaining portion. To date, the state legislature has not appropriated sufficient funding, nor annualized this funding, resulting in a list of 7,600 Oklahomans waiting for waivers, which are prioritized by the date of application. The wait is longer than a dozen years for most.
HCBS waivers provide much needed supports and services to individuals in community settings and are a more cost-effective and human alternative to institutionalization.
“However,” said parent Wanda Felty, “we have to ask ourselves how humane it is to expect families to wait well over a decade for these critical supports.”
Floor Majority Leader Echols explained the caucus’ intent: “We’re excited to see such a bipartisan effort addressing this issue. By our state constitution, we are obligated to do a better job supporting these vulnerable Oklahomans. Our small group is committed to addressing funding shortages, considering additional family supports and having our floor votes reflect these commitments.”
Rep. Munson shared, “I’m hearing from Waiting List families in my district frequently and every Oklahoma legislator has constituents on this list. We are pushing many families to the point of crisis by continuing to ignore the lack of funding. We see parents having to leave their jobs and neglect their own health as they tend full time, all the time, to their loved one with disability support needs.”
In addition to Echols and Munson, Waiting List Caucus members are:
Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon)
Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City)
Sen. Michael Brooks (D-Oklahoma City)
Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa)
Rep. Roger Ford (R-Midwest City)
Rep. Chris Kannady (R-Oklahoma City)
Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan)
Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang)
Rep Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman)
Rep. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole
Rep. Emily Virgin (D-Norman)
Rep. Josh West (R-Grove)
Rep. Tammy West (R-Bethany)
The Waiting List Caucus was brought to legislators by parent advocates Wanda Felty of Norman, RoseAnn Duplan of Moore and Erin Taylor of Oklahoma City. All three now serve as family advisors to the caucus.