Pure Arrogance

Re: State of Connecticut's ABI Waiver and the changes to this waiver

The State of Connecticut has written a new Waiver with the intent to give preferential treatment to disabled people who save the state the most money and discriminate against members of a specific brain injury population who do not save the state money. This is immoral and a significant civil rights violation.

This is the information I sent out to request a meeting with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman on Jan 7 2015. Prior to this request, I as well as CTBISN had a meeting with her back in early 2014 before this law was passed. This is the same information Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Social Services Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby received at that time when they chose to ignore it. Now is the time where I need more answers then what people have been giving me. Before I, as well as others lose everything we have worked for!

My name is Craig Sears and I am a brain injury survivor receiving services on the ABI Waiver 1 Program. I am an independent man with a brain injury. I have been an active and effective advocate for the brain injury survivor community and a participant in the Acquired Brain Injury ABI Waiver Program for several years. Prior to obtaining waiver services, and as a result of a lack of community based supports, I was imprisoned and institutionalized. It is my goal to continue to strive for independence with appropriate supports, and to continue my advocacy efforts for other survivors.

Today I'm writing about my own problems that I'm having with the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services concerning my ABI non-medical waiver plan that has been helping me to live in the community outside of nursing homes and institutions. I have five questions below that I need answered.

I, along with many other brain Injury survivor's, family members, advocates and supporters are deeply concerned about the new ABI Waiver. The new Waiver will have significant negative impacts on hundreds of brain injury survivors. ABI Waiver II will lead to significant harm, serious crisis and put the health and safety of brain injury survivors in CT at great risk.

ABI Waiver 1 was the first Medicaid-funded program in Connecticut that allows individuals with brain injuries to live in the community instead of institutions, and it does so while reducing state expenditures by providing services at an average of 75% of the cost of alternative institutional care AND receives approximately 50% reimbursement from the Federal government. Simply put, this truly remarkable Program has not only made an incredible difference in the lives of many families and survivors in Connecticut but has saved the State money!

The new Waiver is nothing but a vehicle to allow Department of Social Services to jump over people on the current wait list in order to provide services for people at the back of the wait list who will save the state more money. This unethical and immoral way of choosing who will receive services in CT is frightening for people of ALL disabilities. This means determining services is not based on need and the date of application for services; rather, CT can choose to create new methods to determine who gets life-changing services based on the calculation of how many dollars they will save CT.

ABI Waiver II was passed by State Legislators on March 28th 2014. This new Waiver is a HUGE step backwards for Brain Injury Survivors in Connecticut! This is a stigma for our community as brain injury survivors have fought long and hard to receive treatment specific to our needs and outside of the auspices of mental health treatment, because everyone with a brain injury is different and global interventions do not work with our population.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is separate and distinct from developmental and mental health diagnoses. Individuals with developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues may suffer a TBI. However, not all individuals with TBI have developmental or mental health issues. Finally, challenges and interventions implemented with survivors of TBI may be very different from those implemented with individuals with developmental disabilities, mental-health diagnoses and a dual-diagnosis of TBI and developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues.

There's a world of difference between someone with TBI and someone suffering from mental illness. If the Department of Social Services and Office of Policy and Management do NOT understand this they should NOT be writing inappropriate Waiver programs for brain injury survivors!

No matter how many public forms CT holds or how many times Connecticut changes the words of the new ABI Waiver, you cannot change the fact ABI waiver 1 was capped/closed it's still the same conclusion. The fact is that the service descriptions and mental health bias of ABI Waiver II is taken from the current Mental Health Waiver and are inappropriate for Brain Injury Survivors. Mental Health Waiver services are supportive/maintenance models with rehabilitative components of services provided by staff at local Mental Health Associations.

Questions:

1. Why did Connecticut balance the budget on the back of the disabled?
2. Why is Connecticut discriminating against brain injury survivors?
3. Why is Connecticut ignoring what brain injury survivors need and want?
4. Why did governor Dan Malloy lie to me and the state when he said that "we" (meaning both present and future brain injury survivors), are OK when we are not?

This will eventually mean, I as well as many others will end up back on the streets etc, because there will be no help for us. I don't know what tomorrow's going to bring for me, but I do know all too well as a brain injury survivor what life is like with no help. I do not want to go back to that cruel and unusual life on the streets or locked in an insane asylum or back in a prison cell for that matter.

So my last question is; what does Connecticut plan to do to fix this issue? But this time I'm asking to please have it in writing, because words mean nothing to me I need to have it in writing.

Craig Sears
Board Member, Survivor
Connecticut Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board
CT Brain Injury Support Network