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People with Disabilities Awareness Day 2014 Legislative Summary (Document)

1) 5% cuts to critical DRS’ job programs

State funding was flat in 2013. This year, the state has $188 million less to invest in services. The state asked agencies to estimate the impact of 5% budget cuts.

• A 5% cut in DRS’ 2015 budget would cost job seekers with disabilities $5.2 million they would otherwise use to find jobs, independence and a future as taxpaying citizens.

• Every $1 in state budget cuts costs an additional $4 in federal match funds for employment programs.  

• Right now, 1,206 DRS job seekers are on waiting lists until funds are available to pay for their job preparation and employment services.

• If DRS does not have a budget cut, they can continue to help job seekers with the most severe disabilities and gradually move those with less severe disabilities off waiting lists as funds become available.

• DRS makes cents for Oklahoma: Don’t cut funding for DRS and other agencies serving the disability community.

2) DRS Vocational Rehabilitation/Visual Services job programs

• DRS helped 2,241clients become taxpaying citizens in 2013.

• These citizens earn an average of $18,854 and pay $2,828 in taxes per year.

• Every state dollar for DRS employment programs earns 4 federal match dollars.

• Every $1 invested in clients returns $2.3 in increased tax payments and reduced public assistance, representing a 230% return on investment.

• DRS clients who receive vocational rehabilitation services are 77% more likely to be employed within three months after their services end.

3) New catering business at Capitol for DRS’ snack bar owners who are blind (Senate Bill 1206)     

Authors: Sen. Kyle Loveless Room 531 & Rep. Arthur Hulbert Room 204

• SB-1206 initially called for a study of private enterprise food vendors to compete with legally blind food service owner/operators at the Capitol building. Owner/operators are former DRS clients now affiliated with DRS’ Visual Services’ Business Enterprise Program.

• The bill now allows owner/operators at the Capitol to contract with outside vendors to offer catering during legislative session through an e-commerce website to be used for ordering food.  

• The bill passed the Senate 37-5.

4) Access to juvenile records (SB1520) 

Authors: Sen.     Earl Garrison Room 528A & Rep. Charles McCall Room 244

• SB -1520 allows DRS’ Oklahoma School for the Blind & Oklahoma School for the Deaf access to certain juvenile records available to other public schools for the safety of students.

• The records would remain confidential.  

• The Senate approved the bill 44-0. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

5) Limits to Medicaid services (House Bill 2384)

Author: Rep. Dr. Doug Cox Room 331

  • The “Creating the Medicaid Sustainability and Cost Containment Act” requires State Board of Health to:
    • Establish  0.95% Medicaid-to-Medicare provider rates
    • Require prior authorization for all controlled substances
    • Require prior authorization for all non-generic drugs
    • Decrease to 5 per month the number of prescriptions covered for Medicaid recipients over the age of 18 except for nursing home residents who could receive up to 8
    • Limit payment for emergency room visits to 6 per year
    • Require a study to determine potential cost savings from competitive bidding for durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies.  
  • The Board of Health would write these Medicaid rules NOT the Health Care Authority which currently administers Medicaid in Oklahoma.

6) Funding regional transportation projects

 (HB 2480) – Authors: Rep. Charlie Joyner Rom 436 &  Senator Don Barrington 234

• HB-2480 allows portions of cities and counties to decide by a vote of residents to become part of a regional district in order to fund regional transportation or economic development projects.

• Transportation remains a critical barrier to employment for many job seekers with disabilities, so public transit options provide new ways to solve this problem.

• The bill passed the House 59-28.