The Wait for Housing is About to Get Longer

A large part of future planning is considering housing options for our siblings. This is scary, in part, because the entire process seems to be hidden behind some magic curtain that only professionals are allowed behind. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is making this process even more uncertain.

In a continued effort to understand how the process works and make some decisions regarding my sister’s future, I reach out to providers and host homes periodically for information. Providers almost always give me a different answer in regards to a process, but almost always tell me that it is all reliant on when my sister gets funding/services from her DD Waiver.

This DD waiver, is an all-encompassing way to fund housing, community and in-home services via Medicaid, as opposed to other waiver programs that just address in-home and community needs. Currently, in Colorado, there is a 20 year-ish waiting list to receive funding via the DD waiver. That means that unless an adult with a disability in Colorado is in an emergency situation, they could be waiting for up to 20 years to live independently! Worse still, there is no way to gauge when you may receive these services! While I know that the answer is still the same, and there is no way of knowing when my sister will get services via the DD waiver, occasionally I come across a provider that suggests that I can know when by asking my sisters case manager. This week, I came across such a provider, so I thought it a good chance to poke the bear and ask again about when Crystal’s name might be up on the list. The response I got was discouraging, to say the least. While I got the usual, “there’s no way of knowing” response, my sister’s case manger also shared the following information.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, millions of people are losing their jobs. In Colorado, this means that we are expecting over half a million people to apply for Medicaid in the coming months. This, plus our tax date being extended and consumer spending being down means that Medicaid will not be getting the dollars that it is used to seeing. Further still, the new onslaught of medicaid recipients will put a strain on the system forcing medicaid to tighten its belt and put some programs on hold. One of those programs that is expected to see longer waiting times is Colorado’s DD waiver.

Even in “good” times, it is seemingly impossible to gauge when a person on the DD waiver wait list will receive services. However, now, exacerbated by a pandemic, this wait time will be getting that much more uncertain. As other states’ Medicaid programs also grip for the fallout of the pandemic, I wonder what measures are being taken to address these essential services. Our family will continue to plod along and make marginal progress in our process as we have been and just wait out the storm. However, what are families who are just at the end of their process/limits doing to prepare?

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