Ritze chairs study on services to Oklahoma’s developmentally disabled

The Associated Press - November 2, 2017 3:44 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mike Ritze, as chair of the House Public Health Committee, oversaw a House study Wednesday to identify different services being provided to Oklahoma’s developmentally disabled population and ways to better improve those services.

“The study was a great tool for identifying current inefficiencies as well as possible solutions to many of the problems that face these individuals,” Ritze, R- Broken Arrow, said. “We heard from a good mix of Oklahomans facing disabilities, state employees, and individuals from both non-profit organizations and the private sector.”

During the morning half of the study, participants heard from Telligen Healthcare Vice President Mike Speight. Speight relayed to the committee the benefits of privatized care.

“Mr. Speight identified a multitude of advantages that exist through privatized care,” Ritze said. “It doesn’t take much to see how removing government bureaucracy would benefit both the people receiving the treatment and the state. As a board certified family practice physician and surgeon, and as I have done in the past, I will always advocate that government remain in the Capitol and out of our healthcare.”

The topics discussed during the committee include Medicaid, access to durable medical equipment for health and wellness activities, peer support programs that support health and wellness, current hot topics in disability law, service coordination and even issues regarding transportation.

“I am sure you may not realize that transportation for people with disabilities is a huge problem in the United States,” said Richard Anderson, an Oklahoman that has a disability. “Besides being a lyricist, I am also a graphic designer. There are many more job openings in Oklahoma City, Moore, and other cities close to Norman. For the past 28 years, I watched job after job be filled by other people, while I’ve been sitting and collecting Social Security Insurance, thus, draining government assistance, Medicare and Medicaid when I could’ve been making around $2,000 a month with benefits and putting money back into the system.”

Hearing stories like Anderson’s and seeing the willingness of different organizations to help solve some of obstacles developmentally disabled individuals face was encouraging for the committee members.

“I think the lawmakers in this study walked away with an understanding that there is real potential to both help these Oklahomans and our state,” Ritze said. “I look forward to seeing what legislation comes out of this study, and I hope to have many more positive conversations on this topic. People like Anderson deserve an opportunity to contribute and have a life of independence. I think as a legislature, we should do everything in our power to make that happen.”


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