Oklahoma Senator Michael Bergstrom files Independence and Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Pilot Program Act

Staff Report 
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom filed Senate Bill 470, the Independence and Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Pilot Program Act last week, a measure that would create a pilot program allowing fifteen small intermediate care facilities (ICF) for individuals with intellectual disabilities to be selected by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services and be converted to 
Developmental Disabilities Service (DDS) group homes for people with developmental or physical disabilities.

Currently, small intermediate care facilities, categorized as 12 beds or less, are regulated as traditional nursing homes. However, many of the residents in these facilities are young, able bodied adults who have a need to work, socialize and learn in a much different way than traditional nursing home residents.

“Many of these immediate care facilities are unable to provide the services they need to help their residents thrive since they are regulated under nursing home models,” said Bergstrom, R-Adair, in a press release distributed by state legislative staff.  

“Current regulations that govern these facilities are counterproductive for community jobs and opportunities for increased independence for these residents. By launching this pilot program, we can provide the greatest number of opportunities to those residing in facilities like Vinita’s Home of Hope.”

Under the pilot program, funding would directly follow each resident from the ICF to the DDS group home. If an ICF is converted to a group home, all residents would immediately receive DDS group home waiver services so there is no interruption in funding for residents, according to the staff release.

“We must ensure that Oklahomans have the tools they need to thrive in today’s society, including those with developmental disabilities,” Bergstrom said. “Allowing the conversion of these homes is a great first step to getting these group homes the vocational training and services their residents need to succeed.”