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Staff Report

EL DORADO — The American Health Care Act (AHCA or HR 1628) that was passed by the House on May 4, could potentially have a negative impact on people with developmental disabilities. The budget proposed by President Trump would cut out $834 million that is used to match states’ dollars to provide services including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and many more.

The South Arkansas Developmental Center for Children and Families (SADCCF) held a meeting on Wednesday to inform families that this health reform could possibly affect them and the services distributed to them directly.

The Senate is currently looking over the health reform, and the SADCCF is encouraging the families to take the opportunity, while the Senate is looking over the Act, to write a letter to State Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman.

The letter campaign took place at Champagnolle Landing, where the organization let families know that there is still time for their voices to be heard. Writing letters including personal experiences was highly recommended by the SADCCF staff.

There are over 100 disability programs across Arkansas that help children and adults with developmental disabilities.

SADCCF serves 225 children and about 85 adults in El Dorado.

The AHCA could cause harm to people with disabilities during childhood development and could affect school districts, who rely on Medicaid to cover costs from special education programs. The AHCA as written would allow states to not consider schools as eligible Medicaid providers, which could negatively affect school’s abilities to help children with disabilities to reach their full potential, according to a newsletter by American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR).

Currently, there is a 45 percent national turnover rate among Direct Support Professionals, who work with people with disabilities. The reason for the high turnover is because of Medicaid rates being too low, so staff often leave for other industries with better wages. Without enough employees, providers cannot meet the rapidly increasing demand for people with disabilities, causing waiting lists and other implications.

Without knowing yet how the health reform will directly effect the SADCCF, they know for sure that there will be funding cuts.

The SADCCF encourages you to write a letter to the elected officials in Arkansas and inform them that the health reform will cause harm to families with disabilities.

“The good thing right now is that this bill that was passed by the House is currently being looked at by the Senate,” Grady Tracy said at the meeting. “So there is time for us to let our voices be heard.”

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