When the Medicaid waiver system was put in place in Texas four decades ago, it was supposed to help stop the abuse of disabled residents in group homes. Instead, it’s left a trail of blood and abuse thanks to a lack of oversight, funding, and accountability.
The Austin American-Statesman recently completed a year-long investigation into the Medicaid waiver system, which allows disabled Texans to receive home care outside of state facilities. Six agencies provide the service, Home and Community Based Services, Community Living Assistance and Support Services, Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities, Medically Dependent Children Program, STAR+PLUS, and Texas Home Living. All are overseen by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and all of them have incredibly grisly accounts of negligence and abuse.
Some of the stories unearthed by the paper include a woman with cerebral palsy who strangled to death on the straps of her wheelchair, rampant sexual assault of nonverbal patients, and beatings. Since 2010, there have been 80,000 investigations by the state into neglect and abuse in the system, and more than 600 caregivers have been banned from working after being found to be abusive. Thousands of pending lawsuits clog the court system.