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Advocates want disabled off waiting lists for services

There are more than 2,000 people with disabilities waiting for services in Utah.

Some of them, considered to be in critical need, have been waiting for 10 years.Advocates and those with disabilities are at the Capitol again this year asking lawmakers for money to get people off the waiting list.

It's a shame that in a state that's economically healthy, people continue to go without, says Bev Adcock, executive director of the Arc of Utah.

"We're going into the eleventh straight year of budget surpluses and have a waiting list that is bigger than ever," she said. "It's high time people with disabilities got served."

Adcock says it would cost $11 million to get everyone served and off the waiting list. She is asking lawmakers to use the $25 million set aside for "hot button" issues to fund the waiting list.

"We think we're the hottest button around," she said.

About half of the people on the waiting list get no services at all. Many are waiting for things like wheelchair ramps, assistance for bathing and toilet needs and respite care for overwhelmed families.

Traditionally, the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee has fought to give the waiting list additional money. Last year, it received $1 million. This year, the committee has approved $500,000 and placed $5 million for the waiting list on a "wish list."

If the Division of Services for People with Disabilities got that money, it would provide at least one service for every person on the waiting list.