August 13, 2014
Dear Governor Walker,
We are writing to protest the Department of Human Services proposed changes to Medicaid services in home and community based settings. We want the full array of employment and residential services to be kept intact. Facility based vocational services must be protected! The proposed changes relate to Family Care 1915(b) and 1915(c) HCBS waivers in Wisconsin.
The DHS plan is incomplete because CMS hasn't provided states with sub regulatory guidelines for employment settings.
When the guidelines from CMS arrive, the public should have another 30 days to review and comment.
Greg Springhorn is a developmentally disabled 25 year- old. He attends Vocational Industries in Elkhorn, Wisconsin 3 days per week, as well as volunteering at Circle of Friends in Elkhorn 2 days per week. He is an active member at St. Benedict's in Fontana, assisting the ushers and volunteering at events such as the fish fry. He also enjoys Special Olympics activities. He lives with his parents and siblings in households in Walworth and Sharon.
Greg has been attending VIP Services since graduating from Lakeland School. He shows improvement in his piecework rate, and is very proud of the work he does in the workshop. Because of his cognitive disability, he does not drive. It is impossible for him to work in an unsupported setting. We have had trials with Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, but he is unable to stay on task, and has not been successful. He is safe and successful at VIP, and is very satisfied with his wage. Greg loves his days at VIP, and has the same group of friends he had at school.
Please don't take the option for workshop services away from Greg. Everyone deserves a chance to work. One size does not fit all. The option to attend a sheltered workshop should be available to those who desire it. There is no downside to this, but a tremendous downside in taking it away. The displaced workers would find no substitute in our community. Why should employers hire and train persons with cognitive disabilities? The proposed regulations will cause nothing but harm. Members of the disabled community that qualify for competitive employment would not be affected, but the most disabled would suffer. Please do not let this happen.
Governors in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Mississippi have responded to this initiative by signing executive orders to protect the right of disabled individuals to receive workshop services if they so choose. I am a Wisconsin state worker. Please don't let our family down.