Letter to the Editor of the Herald-Times from Leslie Green, CEO, Stone Belt Arc, Inc.
Published May 16, 2020
I have been following Indiana’s COVID-19 crisis and want to share the story of invisible but essential workers who are caring for our neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities during this crisis.
Direct support professionals, or DSPs, work 24/7, often in people’s homes where they cannot practice social distancing. They support people who need help with basic hygiene, health and nutrition, connecting with loved ones, taking medications and more — all despite having as hard a time as hospitals (or harder) securing PPE.
Yet Medicaid-funded disability service providers are at risk of closing permanently because they lack funding to cover overtime and hazard pay for DSPs, which are essential during this pandemic. The federal government has overlooked these services entirely, along with the vulnerable people they support, in distributing congressionally appropriated emergency funding. Without DSPs, people with disabilities — especially the medically vulnerable — risk being institutionalized or forced into already-overwhelmed hospitals unnecessarily.
The good news is that Sen. Todd Young can make a difference by holding the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services accountable in distributing federal resources to Medicaid programs. People with disabilities in Indiana and the DSPs on which they rely desperately your support.
Leslie Green, CEO