President Office — Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2024
Senate Unanimously Passes Legislation to Support Floridians with Disabilities
Senate marks Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day with passage of key legislation
Joined by several Floridians with developmental disabilities, families and advocates, the Senate today marked Florida Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, an annual event hosted by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, with the passage of SB 1758, Individuals with Disabilities, by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford). The legislation expands support for individuals with disabilities and their families, a key goal of the Senate’s 2024 Live Healthy initiative, led by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples).
“Everyone deserves a chance to live healthy, and for our fellow Floridians with disabilities that means living independently, at home in our communities, for as long as they possibility can. Caregivers, particularly family members of those with disabilities, are truly amazing people who sacrifice so much. As a caregiver ages, it can be more difficult for our neighbors with disabilities to receive care at home, accelerating the need for additional services,” said Senator Brodeur. “The last thing we want is for loving families to be separated. This bill prioritizes home-based care options and associated funding for those with an aging caregiver, so both the caregiver and the person with a disability can live a happy, safe, and healthy life in their own home.”
Stephanie Nordin of Autism Collier and her family, constituents of President Passidomo, and JJ Holmes, a constituent of Senator Brodeur were among those present for the bill’s passage. Earlier this week, President Passidomo was invited to present Mr. Holmes with the 15th Annual Idelio Valdes Leadership and Advocacy Award, the state’s top honor recognizing an individual with a developmental disability. Ms. Nordin was one of twelve individuals who nominated Mr. Holmes for the prestigious award.
“JJ is a hero to me and to so many others across our state. His courage, tenacity, and good humor have inspired and uplifted me on so many occasions. He is making a difference in the lives of people living with disabilities as well as their family members and caregivers,” said President Passidomo. “The legislation passed by the Senate today was inspired by JJ to increase services for people living with disabilities, ensuring more opportunities for home-based care as family members and other caregivers age.”
Expanding Services for Floridians with Disabilities
SB 1758 modifies the application process for Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) services, adding an online application process and streamlining the timeframe to determine eligibility. The bill reduces the age requirement for a person’s caregiver in pre-enrollment category 4 from 70 years of age to 60 years of age, or older. This will allow a more individuals to be included in category 4 of the pre-enrollment prioritization list.
Individuals may also be eligible for the consumer-directed care (CDC+) program, which is an alternative to the iBudget program. In the CDC+ program, individuals can use a monthly budget allocation to purchase the long-term care services they feel are the best fit for their needs. The bill requires iBudget waiver support coordinators to inform iBudget clients of the option to apply for the CDC+ program when creating family or individual support plans. The bill appropriates $38 million in funding to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, including funds to expand the number of Floridians with Disabilities who receive home and community-based care waiver services.
Background: The APD administers services to individuals with developmental disabilities through federally funded Medicaid waiver programs. APD’s iBudget program permits individuals to receive home and community-based waiver services and select the services best suited for them while living in their home. When an individual applies for waiver services, but funding is not available, the individual is placed in a pre-enrollment category that prioritizes enrollment based on need. The bill elevates the category of need for people whose caregiver is 60 years of age or older, rather than 70.