On February 10, 2016, several members associated with IONA Senior Services attended the District of Columbia’s Department of Healthcare Finance Oversight Hearing. Among these members, Ms. Malika Moore, Mr. Randy Smith and Ms. Angela Miller testified on behalf of the Elderly Persons with Disabilities Waver program (EPD).
This Waiver program is a crucial key to the renewed independence, safety, and most importantly, the ability of participants to remain in their communities. Many people eligible for the Waiver program are seniors who live by themselves and would greatly benefit from the assistance the Waiver program would provide. A complaint all three testifiers agree upon was the lengthy process to be approved for this program. The consumer, Ms. Miller, had to wait 9 months before she was approved for the Waiver program. In the meantime when she wasn’t receiving care, she experienced falls, went without meals and would lie in bed until her personal care agent would arrive. Ms. Moore and Mr. Smith spoke on behalf of their clients who faced similar experiences waiting to be accepted to the EPD Waiver program. Due to the lack of response from those in charge of the EPD Waiver program, many individuals have to endure unnecessary pain and discomfort.
Randy testified that in 2011, the Department of Health Care Finance froze the program and created a Wait List. That Wait List was not officially suspended until March 2014, but it created huge vacancy rates in the EPD Waiver program. An analysis of Health Care Finances’ own enrollment figures show a steady rise in vacant Waiver positions growing from 7% at the end of 2011 to nearly 40% as of last August. That means up to 1,700 frail and vulnerable District residents are not getting help they need to remain safe in their homes when the capacity exist to provide services.
In conclusion, those who testified on behalf of the EPD Waiver program wanted to express their concern for the EPD Waiver enrollment process. It was put in place to assist those elderly people living with disabilities; however, the process has become so cumbersome that it enrolling in the program has become a hassle rather than an aid. Ms. Moore, Ms. Miller and Mr. Smith, all testified in hopes that not only their voices will be heard, but also the voices of the community they serve will also be heard and invoke change in the Waiver enrollment process.