Waiting list grows, as Jackson Co. Learning Center opens new gro - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Waiting list grows, as Jackson Co. Learning Center opens new group home

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NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – About 3,000 Arkansans with developmental disabilities are waiting to qualify for the state's Medicaid Waiver program.

The program would allow them to cover the cost to seek additional care, like moving into a group home.

The Jackson County Learning Center (JCLC) currently houses people with special needs in group homes in Newport. The agency could house more, but everyone eligible is stuck on that Medicaid Waiver waiting list.

"The waiting list right now is two- to three-thousand people long," Glenda Rutledge-May said, "and will take two to three years if not more for a person to come off of the waiting list and actually become eligible for waiver services."

 Rutledge-May serves as the learning center's executive director. Her agency houses 14 people right now in five group homes.

Three women with developmental disabilities live at the Burton Group Home on Live Oak Drive in Newport, which is set to move to a house on Melody Lane in the next few days.

This particular group home has enough room to take in another woman, and there are plenty of applicants. The agency, however, can accept none of them.

That's because they are all on a lengthy waiting list for the Medicaid Waiver program.

"[The program] provides a reimbursement for the services that we provide in the group homes," Rutledge-May said.

She says families paying for these services without the waiver would be too costly for them, so some people are choosing to stay on the waiting list for two to three years.

"With Medicaid reform that's coming down the pike," Rutledge-May said, "we are hoping that that is going to fix this problem."

She now hopes that legislators will cut the Medicaid Waiver waiting list as part of their reform.

"It's an unfortunate process that we hope will get corrected."

Rutledge-May says removing the waiting list would make it easier for those with special needs to access helpful services, like group homes.

As lawmakers ponder eliminating that hurdle, Rutledge-May can envision the JCLC opening additional homes in the future and possibly hiring more employees to handle any growth.

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