What is the Texas HCS Waiting List?
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) operates a number of Medicaid waiver programs, including the Home and Community Based Services (HCS) program, which provides funding for in-home and community-based services to people with disabilities.
Unfortunately, as of this date, the HCS program has a waiting list of more than 108,000 people. This means that there are more people who want and need services through the HCS program than there are available slots. As a result, some people who are eligible for the HCS program may have to wait for years to receive services.
What Are the Causes?
The Texas HCS waiting list is a problem that has been many years in the making. It is the result of a combination of factors, including:
1) The state’s decision to close most of its large institutions for people with disabilities in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This led to an influx of people with disabilities into the HCS program.
2) The state’s failure to invest adequately in community-based services, resulting in a lack of available slots and providers.
3) The state’s failure to adequately fund the HCS program, resulting in a lack of available slots and providers.
Decades of Waiting for Services
An investigation by WFAA has shown that nearly 200,000 people with intellectual disabilities have been waiting for up to ten years or more for support from the state of Texas to pay for therapy and vital care.
When it comes to aid, Texas spends significantly less than the rest of the country. According to the University of Colorado’s State of the States in Intellectual in Developmental Disabilities Project, Texas ranks 48th among all the states when it comes to providing services to those with disabilities.
The report found that, in Texas, the average wait time for services is almost six years. For some people, the wait is much longer. One woman WFAA spoke to has been on the waiting list for 17 years.
A Broken System
The current system is clearly not working. The long waits and lack of available slots have resulted in many people with disabilities being forced to live in institutions or nursing homes, even though they would prefer to live in the community.
The waiting list has also had a negative impact on families and caregivers. Many are forced to quit their jobs or go into debt in order to care for their loved ones. People simply cannot wait years for the services they need.
The state of Texas has acknowledged that the waiting list is a problem and has taken some steps to address it. However, much more needs to be done in order to provide adequate services to all those who need them.
There are a number of ways to fix the system, but it will require a commitment from the state to invest more money in community-based services and providers. Only then will the waiting list be eliminated and people with disabilities be able to live the lives they want.
What Can be Done?
Fixing the HCS waiting list will require a concerted effort from the state of Texas. Some of the steps that need to be taken include:
1) Increasing funding for the HCS program. This will allow more slots to be created and more service providers to be hired.
2) Prioritizing those on the waiting list who need services the most. This will ensure that those who are most in need are able to get the services they need in a timely manner.
3) Creating more community-based living options. This will provide people with disabilities more choices and allow them to live in the community instead of being forced into institutions or nursing homes.
4) Improving coordination between state agencies. This will ensure that people with disabilities are not falling through the cracks and that they are able to get the services they need.
5) Increasing transparency and accountability. This will allow the public to see how the HCS program is being run and hold state officials accountable for its failures.
How You Can Help
There are a number of things you can do to help fix the HCS waiting list.
1) Contact your state representative and senator and tell them that you want the HCS program to be a priority.
2) Spread the word about the problem and what can be done to fix it.
3) Donate to or volunteer with organizations that provide services to people with disabilities.
4) Advocate for more community-based living options.
5) Educate yourself and others about the issues facing people with disabilities.
The HCS program is vital to the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Fixing the HCS waiting list is a complex problem, but it is one that the state of Texas must address. Only by making a commitment to invest more in community-based services and providers will all those who need help be able to get the services they deserve.
About Mary Jenkins
Mary Jenkins has over 25 years experience helping individuals with IDD live and thrive in their community. She founded Above and Beyond Caring in 2007 to provide Texas HCS services in the Texas Gulf Coast area. She is also the Director of the Community Inclusion Project, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all individuals have access to their community. She is passionate about her work and believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to be a part of, and contribute to, the world around them. Mary is a tireless advocate who is passionate about helping individuals with IDD live fuller, more meaningful lives.