Disabilities deal called `historic,’ but historic for whom?

Posted at 2:21 PM, Feb 09, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-10 11:38:25-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - On January 26, Virginia announced a landmark deal with the federal government, one that completely shakes-up the way the state cares for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Reaction to Virginia’s recent agreement with the Department of Justice has run the gamut the last two weeks. There have been hugs and tears. Heartache and disbelief.

The settlement- struck after nearly a year of negotiations- has been applauded by many families and lawmakers as ‘transformational,’ providing thousands of new Medicaid waivers over the next decade.

The waivers provide a bundle of critical services, like medical care and respite, that caretakers describe as the difference between living in peace, or living in perpetual fear and anxiety.

But many families are also absorbing the news that Virginia plans on closing four of its five state institutions, a move that would displace more than 1,000 profoundly-disabled people.

Those residents would likely be transitioned into group homes for intermediate care facilities, provided the services are available.

Parents like Anne Sale, who’s 49-year-old son Roger lives in the Northern Virginia Training Center, slated for closure in 2015, described her reaction to the deal as ‘devastating,’ adding that it felt like a knife through the back.

Sale is not alone in her concern. An entire community of parents and family members with loved ones at NVTC spoke with CBS 6 in the aftermath of the deal, relaying their fears.

The potential for abuse and neglect, as well as a lack of infrastructure, came up in many conversations.

Sam Brock has been investigating the treatment of disabled Virginians for months, just click on the video above to hear his special report.