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Monday, September 1, 2014

Services in Maryland

Lawyer and autism dad Robert McCarthy writes at The Washington Post:
The Maryland Medicaid waiver program, once you finally get your name on the list, is a generous program, but it is like throwing an on/off switch. My family received no state-funded services until our son got off the waiting list. Then he got very generous services through the waiver program, which basically means the government began paying for what my wife and I previously paid. The catch is that many service providers do not accept Medicaid reimbursements because the rates are low, the procedures are onerous and the reimbursements are delayed.

As a lawyer in Montgomery County, I handle a great many cases involving disabled children and adults, and even I frequently get confused by the process. Imagine an average parent trying to navigate the disjointed system that exists.

Advocates for the disabled did harm to the provision of needed services for highly disabled persons. That advocacy has led to the closure of most residential institutions in Maryland that would care for disabled adults, leaving these people to compete for one of the few programs that remain, live on the street or remain with parents who do what they can in a virtually impossible situation.

I have seen the desperation of parents of special-needs children as they struggle with great demands and few services. This occurs at a great cost to families, and to society. I have seen situations in which parents deliberately had themselves classified as abusive and neglectful to push their children to the head of the line for services.