DD Act Appropriations: Exercise Caution!

VOR calls on Congress to exercise caution and level fund DD Act Programs for FY 2010.

The three primary grant programs authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) - state Developmental Disabilities Councils (DD Councils), state Protection and Advocacy (P&A) systems, and state University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) – have collaborated to request an unpredecented annual increase for themselves of more than 13% ($20 million) in FY 2010 appropriations.

This request comes despite the fact that there have been NO Congressional oversight hearings of these programs since 2000.  Moreover, despite legitimate questions regarding program outcomes, appropriations for these programs have already been increased by 33% since 2000 .

It has been nearly a decade since the DD Act of 2000 has been reauthorized, and it is not anticipated that a reauthorization bill will be considered until late 2009, if at all this year.

Since the last reauthorization, the membership of the House and Senate authorizing committees has changed by 79% in the House and 72% in the Senate. ExpectMore.gov, developed by the White House Office of Management and Budget in collaboration with federal agencies, ranks the DD Act grant programs as only “adequate,” noting that “While the program has performance measures, it lacks an efficiency measure to assess its cost-effectiveness and independent evaluations to assess its impact.”
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/expectmore/summary/10001056.2003.html).

Likewise, VOR seriously questions whether the DD programs are achieving their goals and submits that some federally-financed activities by these programs to eliminate Medicaid-licensed and funded Intermediate Care Facilities for Persons with Mental Retardation (ICFs/MR) are harming ICFs/MR residents and others who desperately need this specialized service option: our most needy citizens with severe and profound mental retardation and related developmental disabilities. In its report, “Abuse of DD Act Programs’ Powers & Resources,” the VOR DD Act Task Force documents more than 70 examples from 20 states of DD Act programs’ anti-facility bias, the downsizing and closures that have resulted, and the sometimes tragic outcomes. See, http://www.vor.net/DDActAbuseUS.htm for a summary of this report.

The choice of an ICF/MR is one of a range of service options specifically supported by Medicaid law, the DD Act and the Supreme Court. Congressional scrutiny is desperately needed. Until Congress is able to carefully examine the DD Act federal grant programs and make badly needed changes, VOR calls on Congress to exercise fiscal caution: reject proposals for increased appropriations and level fund the DD Act programs in FY 2010.