On Nov. 4, Louisianans will be asked to vote for or against Constitutional Amendment 1: “Do you support an amendment to authorize the Legislature to create the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund, for the payment of Medicaid reimbursement to the health care provider groups paying fees into the fund?”

If approved by voters, it will negatively impact over 13,000 people with developmental disabilities in Louisiana on a waiting list for home- and community-based waiver services who need support to live at home or with their families. The part of the state budget used to fund these waiver services would become even more vulnerable to cuts, threatening the ability for individuals and families to access the services they want and need to remain contributing members of their community.

Rebecca Ellis, a resident of Mandeville, has a son with autism who has been on a waiting list for a New Opportunities Waiver for 7½ years. Ms. Ellis needs the services provided through the Medicaid waiver program to keep her son out of a group home. Not only does it cost less to provide him support to live in his family home rather than in an institution, Ms. Ellis believes her son will be happier, healthier, more independent and included in the community. Voting for Constitutional Amendment 1 jeopardizes her son’s ability to remain with his family.

If voters approve Constitutional Amendment 1, the vision of Northshore Families Helping Families or NFHF, to ensure all individuals with disabilities have equal opportunities to be educated, live, work and recreate in their own communities, will not become a reality. Individuals and families who believe there’s no place like home will not have access to support services to live at home.

NFHF is one of 10 Families Helping Families Centers in our state created in 1992 as a component of the Community and Family Support System and Act 378, in direct response to the outcry of families seeking a one-stop shop in their community to link them to the services available to people with disabilities.

Sue Ellen Stewart

Northshore Families Helping Families