Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Conference panel raises awareness of developmentally disabled care issues

State Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, left, and State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, were part of a panel at the Empower Florida summit that addressed issues regarding the care of disabled citizens.

Photo by Kerrick Williams

State Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, left, and State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, were part of a panel at the Empower Florida summit that addressed issues regarding the care of disabled citizens.

TAMPA — More than 20,000 disabled persons remain on Florida's overall wait list for a home-and community-based Medicaid waiver.

Efforts to reduce that number, minimum wage and overtime protections for home-care workers were among the topics discussed at the opening session of the Empower Florida seminar last week.

About 600 health care professionals from throughout the state — including providers, coordinators and assisted-living center staffers and owners — convened at the Tampa Convention Center to hear from a mix of state legislators and disability advocates on May 20.

Hosted by Serenity Village Insurance and Consulting, the seminar provided attendees the chance to not only hear from legislators but also share their experiences and concerns, said Gary Hartfield, principal with Serenity Village.

As a provider, Hartfield says he's familiar with the issues that engulf those who offer services and facilities for disabled persons.

Having that conversation with legislators and policymakers in the room "puts these things on their radar," he said.

Efforts to reduce the wait list number can begin with establishing consistent communications with local and state lawmakers, said State Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa.

Revenues are up, which means the budget has more money to allot those seeking waivers.

But funding is based on sales tax and prone to shifts in the economy, so it's important that supporters continuously keep their focus on reducing the wait list in front of their legislators, he said.

"Continue to be an advocate," he said.

There have been some gains.

Last year, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities received enough money to remove 2,500 people with critical needs from the wait list. That number was 1,200 in 2014.

According to the Scott administration, critical-needs persons include those who are at risk of losing a caregiver, children in the welfare system, and those who are 70 years old or older who require a caregiver but none is available.

About 700 persons are expected to be enrolled in the waiver program this year.

While not a staggering amount, "it's still an awesome thing," said Denise Arnold, the agency's deputy director.

"It will change many families but we still have a ways to go," she said.

Other panelists included State Rep. John Cortes, D-Kissimmee, State Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-St. Petersburg, and State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole; Debra Linton of The ARC of Florida; Suzanne Sewell of the Florida Association of Rehabilitation Facilities; and Margaret Hooper of the Florida Development Disabilities Council.

Empower Florida will "go on the road" in the coming months and hold seminars in other regions of the state, said Valerie Goodard, the seminar's vice president.

Contact Kenya Woodard at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Conference panel raises awareness of developmentally disabled care issues 05/25/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2016 1:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]