Larry and Linda Christensen have graciously given us permission to share this sincere and genuine letter to Legislators which eloquently conveys the importance of supports for individuals with diagnosis of mental health or intellectual disabilities. Many thanks to Larry and Linda for advocating for your daughter, and all who would be affected by funding cuts.
I am writing with regard to proposed changes and cuts in Medicaid. My wife and I know that changes are necessary to preserve this valuable program. We are supportive of eliminating waste and duplication in every part of government and its programs. We also have fears and concerns. We are old enough to remember when facilities for the mentally ill were closed – for good reasons – before there was an adequate system in place to receive those patients displaced.
We are parents of an adult daughter who is both developmentally delayed and afflicted with complicated mental illness issues. Her teen years through her late twenties were a nightmare as she engaged in dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.
The last decade has seen a remarkable turnaround due to the help and support she receives from workers and agencies that receive most of their funding from Medicaid. Our daughter has moved beyond group homes and 24 hour Waiver Homes to living in her first apartment where she receives help with medication management, cooking, cleaning, meal preparation, exercise, and other living skills through Supported Community Living staff (SCL) who visit her a few hours a week, in her community of Atlantic, Iowa.
In earlier years our daughter could not hold a job and lost confidence that she would ever be employable. In the past few years she has moved from a sheltered workshop to part time, competitive, community employment at her local HyVee with Supported Employment coaching and monitoring.
After years of hospitalizations and repeated failures our daughter is happy, feels proud of herself, and is a contributing and valued member of her community. Even we as her parents could not have done for our daughter what a community of informed, dedicated, trained, and organized professionals who know her well and are able to help her accomplish her goals. We have seen and know well, how each of the pieces that support our daughter is a building block that makes successful independent living possible for her.
We fear for our daughter’s future if changes and cuts are made in the wrong way, or if an impersonal, distant process is substituted for trusted relationships.
We ask that you keep the people of Iowa who depend on Medicaid in your mind and heart as you vote on our daughter’s future.