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Lawmakers, parents push for bill to help those with developmental disabilities

House Bill 5001 is aimed at increasing resources and support services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

HARTFORD, Conn. — State lawmakers are pushing for a new bill they say will address issues affecting those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the state.

Legislators heard from advocates at the Legislative Office Building Thursday about a bipartisan proposal they say is much needed.  

“For every second I spent acting like a fully functional looking adult, hides the hours and days of crippling anxiety, the depression eating away at me, every little mistake and flaw I noticed about myself that weighs me down,” said Lisa Clark, speaking for her 24-year old son. 

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Her son is on the Autism spectrum. Clark read her son’s public comment Thursday in front of the Human Services Committee. 

“Because I did good on an IQ test I'm deemed not in need,” she said. “While I may never be free of my inner demons, the law is something that can be changed, the sooner the better.” 

Clark is supporting House Bill 5001, which is aimed at increasing resources and support services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The bill has multiple parts, but one of the two most discussed would increase funding to chip away at long waiting lists for Medicaid waiver programs. 

“Hopefully by the time we're done with this bill, we know it won't happen overnight, we know it won't happen in one year, but we hope that that waitlist will no longer be talked about and we can move forward,” said State Rep. Jay Case, (R-Colebrook).

There are nearly 3,000 people on waiting lists for these state services. 

Lawmakers hope additional funding in this bill can allow upward of 600 people from the waitlists to start receiving services by early next year. 

“5001 is the bill that's going to be bipartisan in this building, that's going to pass, that's going to help and deplete the waiting list,” Case added.

The second notable piece of this legislation would remove IQ from the state's eligibility criteria. 

Right now those with IQs above 70 are ineligible for certain state services, something many say is a major hurdle for their family members. 

“We are all on our own with little to no help from the state because our loved ones fall through the cracks blocked by an antiquated IQ wall of eligibility,” said Kathryn Strout, testifying on behalf of her child at Thursday’s hearing.

There aren’t any specific numbers yet on just how much this proposal could cost the state, but since there will be a fiscal impact, those details will need to be figured out if this bill passes out of the Human Services Committee.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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