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In the 2020 inaugural business plan, Blueprint for a Healthy Texas (PDF), HHS outlines key priorities and initiatives for the coming year. One initiative is to improve independence and positive outcomes for people with disabilities.
This year, HHS is developing an action plan to improve the system and delivery of services for Texans with physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities. Working closely with internal and external partners around the state, HHS will identify opportunities to improve agency coordination to make it easier for individuals, families and providers to navigate the HHS system for disability services. This plan will drive initiatives for the next several years to improve services for people with disabilities by providing the support they need to thrive in the setting of their choice.
As the first step in developing the disability services action plan, HHS staff hosted listening sessions across the state to gain insight from clients, providers and advocates about their experiences and challenges navigating HHS, as well as opportunities to improve. HHS held seven listening sessions from late 2019 to early 2020.
More than 300 people attended the sessions, sharing more than 200 comments with HHS staff, including ideas on how HHS could improve service delivery. Several themes emerged from people who shared, including:
- Access to services
- Access to information about HHS services
- Financial allocations for specific services
- Staff training and retention
- Facilities and institutions
The access to services theme was mentioned the most and included deaf and hard-of-hearing services, program interests lists, having more or better providers, and front-door services.
Some comments mentioned issues affecting people and families served by HHS but were outside HHS’ ability to address without support from strategic external partners, including other state agencies. Other comments were about thoughts regarding attendant wages, support for community-based and institutional services, and the effects of HHS staff shortages.
HHS is coordinating efforts for the action plan with related agency reports affecting aspects of the disability services continuum, including:
- A strategic plan to address community attendant workforce issues (Rider 157)
- The Intellectual and Developmental Disability Strategic Plan
- A review of interest lists maintained for Medicaid 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services waiver programs serving people with disabilities (Rider 42)
- A long-range plan to address the needs of people receiving services at state supported living centers, as well as other people with IDD or behavioral health needs, including an assessment of repurposing vacant or unused SSLC buildings and other resources to support SSLC residents (Rider 110)
HHS will use these reports and comments from the listening sessions to develop future initiatives to improve service delivery for people with disabilities. These initiatives will include short-, medium- and long-term goals and some might require legislative approval or new funding. The Promoting Independence Workgroup, which primarily consists of people with disabilities and advocates, will be reviewing the proposed recommendations in May 2020. A draft plan will be posted for public comment and feedback in June 2020. The disability services action plan will be completed by Aug. 31, 2020.
For questions or ideas regarding the action plan, email Medical_and_Social_Services@hhsc.state.tx.us.