Dear Governor Kemp...
In November, Georgia elected Brian Kemp as its new governor, succeeding Nathan Deal. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities saw this as a prime advocacy opportunity to inform and educate the new governor and his incoming administration about individuals with developmental disabilities, issues that affect them and how we can work together to build a more inclusive Georgia.
GCDD opened 'Dear Governor ...' allowing individuals across the state to submit ideas and issues that they'd like the new administration to work on that affect individuals with disabilities. We received many responses. Some are included here.
'I would hope that you see the possibilities of the people with disabilities in our state. We want to all be employed, have a choice of going to college/or training and owning our own home. We want to know our Medicaid services will remain with the person that is affected so they can have their choice of life with supports.' - Mitzi Proffitt, Brooklet, Bulloch Co.
'Affordable, accessible housing is desperately needed. I get calls from people with disabilities where I work at a local Center for Independent Living. Having a son with disabilities means our healthcare costs are much higher than we can even afford. My husband works as a pastor at a United Methodist Church and I work as well, but it is still not enough.' - Veronica Apecena, Stone Mountain, Gwinnett Co.
'It is imperative that children with disabilities have access to the Katie Beckett/Deeming waiver. This should include a process that is fair and equal across all counties in the State of Georgia. Currently, the process to apply is labored and families face numerous delays due to paperwork being lost or sent late. Additionally children who clearly meet the criteria are being denied and parents can't afford the attorney necessary to go to court. Please find a reasonable solution to this problem that doesn't involve removing qualified children with disabilities from receiving services.' - Lisa Matesevac, Lawrenceville, Gwinnett Co.
'The latest crackdown on opioids has caused an unintended hardship on most persons with develop-mental disabilities. Some of their needed medications fall into the list. It has placed an unnecessary burden on the caregivers and those for whom they care. Please help!' - Thomas Sunderland, Evans, Columbia Co.
'Please help improve the community living situations for people with disabilities by providing more than a living wage for the caretakers and making sure they have in-depth education and training to help those they take care of. My 43-year-old son is on the autism spectrum and I have struggled for more than a year to get his living situation and caretakers in place. I am now dealing with his increased anxiety over this. He needs consistency, routine and caretakers who understand his needs.' - Diane Prosser, Marietta, Cobb Co.
'Increased employment opportunities for autistic adults that match their capabilities and more autism awareness campaigns that educate people and dispel myths about Autism to promote acceptance of people living with developmental disabilities.' - Cyndi Taylor, Evans, Columbia Co.
'My hope is that you will provide more funds for and expand Medicaid. There are many of us with children who have mental and physical disabilities and receive their medical care via Medicaid. Our 47-year- old daughter was brain-injured at delivery. As a result, she has the mental acuity of a 4-5-year-old. She has seizures and needs daily medications to keep them under control as well as a low immunity to respiratory infections. Please do not neglect our children. Her father and I are in our early 80s, and we have been preparing funds to leave for her when we die. But if her medical provider is gone, our funds will be insufficient. Georgia has the elderly, the young and people with disabilities who need this important medical care. Please give these people, citizens of this state, consideration to keep them alive and well.' - Camille Yahm, Carrollton, Carroll Co.
'I hope that you will take into consideration the issues facing our families that have students and adults with special needs. Many resources seem to stop in the metro area and do not reach out to our rural areas in NW Georgia. We only have ONE provider for over four counties. Please get accurate information and really look at what your administration can do to better the lives and families of those that deal with family members with intellectual disabilities.' - Michal Jones, LaFayette, Walker Co.
'I hope you will expand Medicaid and reinforce the Affordable Care Act. Those with mental health deficits, addictions and disabilities need your strong support. Thank you.' - Joan Gage, Decatur, DeKalb Co.
'I hope that you will make it a priority to add additional funding for waivers that support individuals with disabilities to live, work and thrive in their communities. There are thousands of individuals who are still waiting on the help, many with aging parents.' - Jackie McNair, Loganville, Walton Co.
'I would like you to provide better access to adult services. I hope you look into cultivating medical marijuana in this state to make it easier for families to obtain the oil.' - Susan Selwa, Snellville, Gwinnett Co.