Momentum is growing for the state of Delaware to fully fund programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and Rep. Melanie George Smith announced that the bill written to mandate this funding will be renamed in honor of Michael McNesby.

House Bill 104 will be called the Michael McNesby Full Funding for Adults with I/DD Act.

McNesby died in late March. He was born with Down syndrome in 1960, a time when society was unsure what to do with individuals with intellectual disabilities. However, his family embraced McNesby, and he worked at Elwyn for 28 years.

“Our parents chose inclusion for Michael, and he thrived, as all individuals with intellectual disabilities can if given the right support,” said Jerry McNesby, Michael’s brother. “Because we were a large family, we were able to provide that support; other families are not so lucky, and need help.”

The act was introduced in 2017, sponsored by Smith and Sen. Bryan Townsend. The bill is bipartisan and supported by both House and Senate members.

“Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can contribute to our communities — they just need to be given a chance,” said Smith. “I’m proud to be able to champion this bill — it’s important for all Delawareans.”

The act would mandate an increase in the rates paid to providers according to the recommendations of a market study conducted by the Department of Health and Social Services, so that by fiscal 2021 the state would fund providers at 100 percent of the benchmarked rate. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the bill calls for a $9 million funding infusion for programs for adults with I/DD.

The state is currently funding providers at 75 percent of the market rate established in a 2014 study that was done by DHSS. These rate increases are necessary to increase the hourly wages of Direct Support Professionals, which along with the corresponding costs of program oversight, direct supervision of DSPs, and training, are essential to keep people with I/DD safe and integrated to the maximum extent possible in their local communities.

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