Ten years ago, five families sued the state for making them wait a decade to facilitate Medicaid help for their disabled children. The incident motivated the State of Oregon to begin contract work with Brokerage Support Service so qualifying customers receive more immediate response.
On the inner eastside there are two of these brokerages, Inclusion Inc. and Independence NW.
The Southeast Examiner had an opportunity to speak with the executive directors of both places to find out who they serve and how.
Inclusion Inc. is located at 50 SE 18th and Rachel Dayka is the executive director. She explained the criteria that people meet in order to receive services.
They must be an adult Oregonian with a confirmed diagnosis of either an intellectual disability or a developmental disability. This includes high functioning autism and people with traumatic brain injures. These individuals are able to either live on their own, at home, with friends, or in a group home.
“We serve as personal agents to help customers receive and budget their funds from Medicaid and the State,” Dayka said.
“This includes complex situations like training for and finding employment, locating housing, and learning about transportation to simple, everyday chores such as grocery shopping, house cleaning and bathing.”
Inclusion Inc serves 700 customers. Each personal agent throughout the state has 49 customers in their case load. Their job is to match customer needs with an outside source that makes sure they have the funds to cover the transaction. The money they receive from Medicaid can be dispersed to qualifying family members and friends.
Independence NW executive director Larry Deal, is an enthusiast proponent of their services. Like Inclusion Inc, they are a non-profit, servicing 428 clients.
“Oregon is one of the few states with a program like this. It is unique because it makes independent living easier for the 7,000 statewide customers they work for,” he said. There are six brokerage houses in the area and thirty state wide.
In the long run, helping these individuals live independent lives, saves the state and federal government money. They are allotted around $14,000+ per year, 40 percent state funding and 60 percent federal.
With the help of the brokerages, most people receiving these funds can live comfortably on this amount. To live in an institution or in foster or group homes the rate begins at $60,000.
“It is much more cost effective for our customers to live on their own, plus it gives the individual the opportunity of participating in their community,” Deal said. “They are less isolated.”
These brokerage houses operate using the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) management system. This strategy was co-created by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler wherein employees are paid for results (output) rather than the number of hours worked. Best Buy was the first major company in the United States to offer this work option to their employees. It gives them more flexibility by choosing to work at home or from different locations, as long as the job gets done.
Inclusion Inc and Independence NW are example of the way society is evolving. Rather than isolating people with intellectual disabilities they are helping them integrate into daily life.
By instilling self-determination as a basis to their approach, customers achieve freedom, authority, autonomy, responsibility and confirmation – goals we all strive to attain and live by.
Inclusion Inc is located at 50 SE 18th Avenue, 503.232.2289, www.inclusioninc.org. Independence NW address, 541 NE 20th Avenue, suite 103, 503.546.2950, www.independencenw.org.