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On April 9th, Advocates for Iowans with mental disabilities or brain injuries gathered at the Statehouse to denounce the years-long waiting lists for support services. According to the advocates, 7,700 Iowans are waiting for a Medicaid waiver that would grant them access to medical services such as in-home therapy, living-skills training and respite care.

Kim Jensen’s daughter, who lives in Cedar Falls is one of these Iowans. The 12-year old currently lives at an Illinois facility, where she is being treated for a severe mental disorder. The special Medicaid waver would pay for cheaper, in-home care back in Iowa. Instead, the state of Iowa is paying for the huge cost of keeping her at the facility.

The House of Representatives is considering allocating $4.8 million toward the clearing the waiting list, but it is estimated that $22 million is needed altogether. There is a Supreme Court ruling that dictates that disabled people have a right to live in the least restrictive setting possible. Keeping those people in institutions rather than providing them services violates that right, and open the state of Iowa up to be sued.

Iowa Governor Branstadt vetoed $8.7 million dollars that had been approved by legislators to clear the waiting list last year, because he was concerned about the financial sustainability of the Medicaid program.

To read more about this visit the Desmoines Register.

Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981. www.KmarksLaw.com