The City Sentinel, Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – About 40 states nationwide have waiting lists for services for individuals with developmental disabilities.
In a press release sent to The City Sentinel newspaper, news service CapitolBeatOK.com and other news organizations, Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, said legislation he presented in the Senate on Wednesday (May 19) to lay the foundation for eliminating Oklahoma’s own waiting list was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt Thursday (May 20).
Rosino, vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, presented House Bill 2899 in the Senate. Rosino introduced this bill earlier this year, and (as is customary) laid out the case for his proposal before his colleagues before final passage. Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, advocated for the measure this session.
Rosino said H.B. 2899 is a crucial part of a plan that will finally help address a 13 year-long waiting list for services.
“At the beginning of May, that waiting list was approaching 6,000 people. Oklahomans with disabilities and their families need and deserve these services,” Rosino said.
“We’re coordinating with the Department of Human Services [DHS] to truly get a handle on the scope of the needs of these individuals so we can eliminate the waiting list in a way that prioritizes and supports Oklahoma families.”
On final consideration, H.B. 2899 cleared the House on a 37-9 vote early in the week, then prevailed in the Senate with a 78-19 margin.
Under Health and Human Services Secretary Justin Brown, DHS has issued two requests for proposals — one for an information technology system and the other for an assessment navigation program to help better determine the unique needs of those on the waiting list.
Rosino said this will enable the department to calculate a real cost estimate for the Legislature so that a plan can be developed to eliminate the waiting list. Additionally, H.B. 2899 requires those wanting to apply for services to first have been a resident of Oklahoma for five years.
“This five year residency requirement simply ensures that Oklahoma families are always prioritized for the services our state provides,” Rosino said.
Samantha Galloway, chief of staff and operations for DHS, said the combined steps by the agency and the Legislature will be critical for Oklahoma’s efforts to meet the needs of citizens who’ve been waiting years for services.
“Senator Rosino has been a great supporter and champion on this issue. He values Oklahoma families and wants to make sure they have the services they need to thrive,” Galloway said.
“This legislation could make Oklahoma the model for much of the country in how to eliminate long-standing waiting lists for people with developmental disabilities.”
NOTE: Pat McGuigan’s contributed to this report.