In 2020, North Dakota reached a federal regulation concerning institutionalized care for people with disabilities.
As they craft a new vision, state officials are publicizing programs that provide residents with disabilities with more pathways to community care. The Department of Human Services (DHS) highlights initiatives designed to help people with disabilities make a smoother transition from an institution to a community setting.
Jake Reuter, program administrator for DHS, acknowledged that the state still has a long way to go to improve access, but he noted that the demand for the programs is a good sign that they are reaching people who they must achieve.
“We have many, many referrals for services to help prevent institutional care in the first place,” Reuters reported.
The department hosted a webinar this week to discuss programs like “money follows the person“, which helps eligible Medicaid enrollees transition to community care. Since 2007, the federally funded option has helped more than 400 disabled North Dakotans. The recent settlement follows allegations that the state had too much about placing people in nursing care facilities.
To achieve future goals, Reuters said issues such as a better educated workforce and affordable housing must be addressed. He noted that having the flexibility to provide care in an integrated community setting gives those affected more choices in daily life.
“They eat their meals when they want, how they want,” Reuters said. “They can go out into the community, they hang out with whoever they want.”
Department heads added that as part of their response to past issues, they have tried to improve communications with key partners, such as hospitals and nursing homes.
In rankings compiled by Case for Inclusion, North Dakota landed 46th in the nation for policies such as promoting independence for people with disabilities.
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