Federal changes could harm residents with autism

image taken from Facebook

image taken from Facebook

Whitehouse, OH – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced changes to it’s Home and Community-Based Services program in January that could hinder people with autism. The program gives waivers to people with disabilities on Medicaid so they can live at home or in a community rather then be institutionalized. But the new changes state that the programs they participate in need to be home and community based.

This distresses many program providers, especially Vicki Obee of Bittersweet Farms. 55 people who are on the spectrum, many funded by CMS, come to the farm’s daily program. In addition to that there are two residential programs on the 80 acre campus, one with 20 beds for care, the other with one-bedroom apartments. According to Obee, many residents have lived there more then twenty years and don’t want to move.

“My concern is they’ll say, ‘You can’t live where you work,’ ” she told The Blade. “If in their zealousness they’re losing choice, that’s not better either.”What’s stressing Obee out more then this new changes, is the likely prospect that her farm may be targeted.

Back in the 20th century there was a movement to get people on the spectrum out of harmful institutions. To get around this many then created farms as a facade so they could continue their harmful and awful treatment of people with autism. This stigma could make it harder for farms like Bittersweet to continue operating.

“We’re quite clearly a campus-based, intentional community,

“There are assumptions that we isolate.”

Ben Devorrs, 30, has been coming to the day program for three years and  told The Blade that he loves it there:

“I like staying busy and helping my co-workers out.”

Currently a transitional plan is being created by the state so providers will be eased into the new rules. It will be published on December 1 and will allow public comment for 30 days. After that, providers will have until March to submit their own plans for compliance

The original article by Lauren Lindstrom on The Blade news website can be read here

Contributed by Audrey L. Hollingshead