DHH responds to Gov. Jindal's line item veto on Louisiana budget

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Department of Health and Hospitals' officials say more can be done to help families with disabled loved ones in the state.

"We recognize that," said Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert.

"Certainly we would love to be able to offer comprehensive services to everybody, however, as you know our budget just did not allow that."

Governor Bobby Jindal exercised his line item veto power on the Louisiana budget and cut funding that would have helped an additional 200 people, some of them children get state assistance from one program.

One of those families stuck on a waiting list that is 10,000 people deep and often eight to ten years long, shared the difficulties associated with it.

"They are like little babies that you take care of, they'll never grow up and to do that every day- in and out on a family - it takes a lot," Sabrina Smith said.

Smith has a part-time job and her husband works as a truck driver to support the family. They have two disabled children. Smith says the income from both jobs is often not enough and relies on the state for help.

Secretary Kliebert says she was touched by the Smith family's story and others.

Kliebert admits more needs to be done.

Of the 10,000 people on the list, many are eligible for some assistance while they wait, although as in the case of the Smith family, even that is often not enough.

"Primarily we have a choice between cutting existing services or expanding services." Kliebert said.

"We certainly recognize that we need to do a better job managing that waiting list especially for individuals who have high priority needs. We do some of that now. We have emergency waivers that we can offer. You don't have to be waiting to get an emergency waiver."

DHH Secretary Kliebert points to the Capital Area Human Services agency which helps people with several issues including developmental disabilities in a seven parish area.

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