Officials with the state Health and Human Services departments are awaiting federal approval to tap into a temporary funding stream to help end a 13-year wait faced by New Mexico families seeking services under a developmental disabilities program.

The officials told a panel of lawmakers last week about their plan to move about 4,100 people off the waiting list and into services in the next two years. State funding of about $75 million a year would be needed eventually, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

Dr. David Scrase, who also leads the Health and Human Services departments, called it a rare opportunity of alignment between federal funding and a critical state goal. “We have made progress over the last two years, getting more than 700 people the services they need,” Scrase said in a statement. “These dollars will allow us to provide services for thousands more.”

Long waits have plagued the state Developmental Disabilities Waiver program for years. In the Albuquerque area, those being removed from the waiting list have typically been watching since 2008 for the funding to become available.

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