Letters are going out this week to 249 individuals with developmental disabilities from the State Department of Human Services telling them how to pick up their checks for extra funds. The extra dollars were restored to eligible individuals with developmental disabilities by a new state law sponsored by State Senator Mary Hodge and signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper this past week. House Bill 1177 restores the Home Grant Allowance in amounts ranging from $200 to $475 per month to individuals with developmental disabilities who are eligible to receive them.
Senator Mary Hodge explained to Catherine Strode, Health Care Advocacy Program and Outreach Coordinator, why House Bill 1177 was needed.
Senator Hodge, what is the intent of HB 1177?
“House Bill 1177 was a Joint Budget Committee Bill. The families who are affected brought Representative Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and Representative Dave Young here to speak to the Joint Budget Committee. It’s to remedy an unintended consequence of House Bill 10-1146 which didn’t mean to leave about 240 some people without help. They needed their home care, they made a choice, and either this passes or they have to go into nursing homes because it just cannot be taken care of. That was the intent.”
What was the issue?
“The families of the affected clients were formerly in the Home Care Allowance Program. They were forced to choose between two programs. One of them was the Supported Living Services; the other was the Children’s Extensive Services and they were near maxed out on their benefits which meant they didn’t have any way of paying to have people help take care of them or provide for some of their living expenses. It is a very small group of people but a very necessary item in their lives. Without the home health care would they would have to go to nursing homes. They were that close to the end of their waiver and they had no money to pay for those services.”
What does this Bill offer them and who is eligible for the support it provides?
“It’s a grant program for those people who are receiving services through either the Children’s Extensive Support Services or Supported Living Services, Home and Community Based Waivers, to receive home care allowance. It allows them to get the Home Care Allowance which will keep them out of nursing homes. It’s about 250 families. They are people who are near their max in services in the other program.”
How does the financial background of HB 1177 work?
“We have already appropriated money out of our general fund, which is sales and income taxes that people pay to the State of Colorado. The Home Care Allowance – we’re just going to take some of that already appropriated money and put it into the grant fund for these people who need this help. Putting these people into nursing homes is far more expensive than keeping them in their own homes, with their own families, with their own caregivers. This is a general funded program and it will come out of the existing home care allowance appropriations. So it’s part of what we already have. We just send it in a new direction. It covers things like buying your toothpaste, paying your rent, or whatever you needed to stay in your home.”
How long is this funding available for?
“This bill will expire in July of 2017.”