Texas’ system of home and community care for people with disabilities has been beset by crisis for years. Funds are scant. Demand for services vastly outweighs supply. Workers receive poverty wages. Delays in oversight mean facilities can go more than two years without a single inspection. Investigations into horrific injuries and deaths can take even longer.
This yearlong Austin American-Statesman investigation sheds light on the collapsing Texas Medicaid “waiver system,” a set of six programs serving over 100,000 Texans through a private-public partnership.
The series reveals how decades of deficiencies and inaction have turned a system meant to care for and protect the state’s most vulnerable residents into a dangerous and sometimes deadly environment.
The Statesman unearthed dozens of lawsuits alleging violence by the system’s clients and workers. Records we obtained from about 20 state, federal and local agencies revealed decadelong gaps in government oversight.
In dozens of interviews, victims and their families, attorneys, advocates and workers described corporations’ and individuals’ brazen attempts to cover up crimes, retaliate against whistleblowers, and avoid accountability.
Frequently stonewalled by officials and corporate representatives, the Statesman scoured thousands of pages of documents and launched a monthslong data collection effort to understand the intricacies of the system and to reveal its failings.