Families fight, hope for more funding for NOW program

Families fight, hope for more funding for NOW program
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POSTED: Friday, June 28, 2013 - 5:23pm

UPDATED: Friday, June 28, 2013 - 5:26pm

April Favarone has been waiting for a New Opportunity Waiver to help her daughter Blair Ann for close to ten years.

"Her disorder is life long. It’s going to have its challenges everyday. I’ve been blessed with Blair Ann and we love her more than anything. We just want the best for them. We need services," explained Favarone.

This year lawmakers found a way to open up 200 new spots for the 10,000 kids waiting for the waiver, but the victory was short-lived; Governor Bobby Jindal shot down the funding at the last minute.

"He (Jindal) put these people on a shelf and just said 'well you know. I am not ready, not ready for you right now. We'll just put you on a shelf for another year. We’ll just see. Maybe next year we'll have some funding for you,'" added Favarone.

The Department of Health and Hospitals say it wants to fund more services, but it just wasn't going to happen.

"When I am looking at do I expand services and add more people to services or do I cut services to people already getting services. I am always going to choose to not expand," explained Kathy Kleibert, DHH secretary.

“We have expanded this program in the past and will continue to expand it in the future as the budget allows. This year's budget, however, requires us to cut $40 million, which made a $4 million expansion difficult,” explained Governor Jindal in a prepared statement.

Favarone said their problems don't end there though; money for Blair Ann's in-home helper was also cut down.

"We personally got our 10 hours a week taken from us pending funding. I mean when you get a letter in saying 'pending funding.' that means there's no funding," said Favarone.

But the governor and officials from DHH have maintained that no services are being lost.

"We haven't cut any of our services in terms of current people receiving either waiver services or other services thorough the office," said Kleibert.

April and thousands of others are asking their lawmakers to hold a special session and get the funding back, something she's confident will work.

“These senators and representatives will have the heart to turn this around and not forget about these children who don't have a voice," Favarone said.

More than 8,800 are receiving services thanks to NOW waivers at this time. 10,000 are still on the waiting list.

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