State-run institutions for Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities in need of reform and consolidation

New report by TPPF recommends closing and consolidating existing State Supported Living Centers and moving towards a community-based system.
AUSTIN – Today, the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation released a policy paper on State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs), which provide residential care to Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Texas operates 13 SSLCs across the state, and has not closed one in 18 years despite a steadily declining SSLC population, sharply rising costs, and persistent problems maintaining adequate quality of care at these institutions.
“The fact is, Texas maintains more state-run institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and houses more people in each institution than any other state. Texas is an outlier—and not in a good way,” said John Davidson, senior health care policy analyst at the Foundation. “It’s long past time for our state to join the long-term, nationwide trend of deinstitutionalization, and finally modernize the way we deliver care to this vulnerable population by moving toward a community-based system of care.”

Since 2009, Texas has been under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to improve conditions at its SSLCs. After five years, not one of the 13 SSLCs has achieved substantial compliance with that settlement. Meanwhile, the public has become increasingly aware of serious problems at these institutions, some of which involve abuse and neglect of residents, and in some cases preventable deaths.

Davidson continued: “This is not a new issue. The SSLC system has been in need of reform for many years but efforts have gotten nowhere because of entrenched special interests. The Sunset Review Commission has an opportunity to set the closure and consolidation process in motion, and it should do so. Gradually, Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities are choosing to leave SSLCs and moving into communities. These centers are closing through attrition. The Legislature can stand by and do nothing, or step in and manage the process. We think lawmakers have a responsibility to take action.”

To read the entirety of the paper, visit:  

John Davidson is a senior policy analyst in the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 

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