Last Wednesday, DODD Director John Martin presented testimony to the House Committee on Finance and Appropriations, Health and Human Services Subcommittee as the legislators consider the 2016-17 biennial budget proposal. Noting the Kasich Administration’s historic support for individuals with developmental disabilities and the funding to fuel transformational change, he stated, “This budget expands not only the ways in which individuals can more fully participate in their community, but also increases the number of individuals we are able to serve.”
Some of the highlights of the testimony were framed in relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and noted that responding to change — or the need to do things differently — is never easy, and usually complex. (Read complete testimony.) He noted that change “… should be viewed with the knowledge that it is difficult when looked at through the front windshield, but often is satisfying as we look through the rear view mirror. We acknowledge that change is especially hard for those we serve, and their families who have been through so much already. We know many are satisfied with their services, and they don’t object to institutions or workshops. We also know that research shows they won’t object to community life once we get there.” He added,
Today, we are looking through the front windshield. It will take great faith and courage to believe the rear view mirror will tell a different story.”
Director Martin also referred to some data to support statements made in the testimony, including:
- Nationally, research on the closure of state-operated centers shows, prior to closure, 85 percent of the families were opposed to closure. After closure, satisfaction was as high as 80 percent.
- In Ohio, the Department’s most recent follow-along visits with those who moved out of a state-operated Developmental Center between January 1, 2011, and February 20, 2015, shows 77 percent of the individuals report feeling happy in their new home, and 81 percent of the families/guardians reported being satisfied or highly-satisfied with their family member’s current setting.
Legislators listening to the testimony last week had many questions, and offered examples of constituent concerns surrounding various elements of the proposed changes in services, service delivery, and scope of system change. Director Martin replied to a question regarding the timeframe for changes requested to occur over the next five years, explaining that some aspects of DODD’s proposed Transition Plan, which will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by March 18, include a request that the amount of time to accomplish the transitions be extended to ten years.