As a result of advocacy by The Arc Pennsylvania, HB 218, the state budget, which offered the highest level of support for people with disabilities in recent years, passed both houses of the legislature and became law. The budget includes:
- 1000 slots for a new Community Living Waiver capped at $70,000 per person per year;
- 820 Person/Family Directed Supports Waiver slots for special education graduates with ID and/or autism;
- 50 new Adult Autism Waiver slots; and
- Expansion of the Targeted Services Management State Plan to include more than 1,500 people with autism and/or ID on the waiting list.
The Massachusetts Senate hosted a heath care discussion at the state house in preparation for upcoming health care cost containment legislation. The discussion involved a panel on long term supports and services for people with disabilities that included Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc Massachusetts. The Arc Massachusetts is pleased that the State Senate is considering long term supports and services in its discussion of future health care legislation.
Advocates from The Arc Connecticut participated in a furlough day rally at the state capitol to protest the lack of a budget for community services for people with I/DD. Attendees included self-advocates, parents, and a bi-partisan group of state legislators. Pictures from the rally can be found on the Chapter’s Facebook page.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Governmental Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, recently testified at a hearing before the Executive Office of Health and Human Services on a proposed 2.72% increase in Community-Based Day Support Services rates. While The Arc Massachusetts is grateful for the increase, it is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act because it does not allow for the meaningful integration of beneficiaries in the community. For example, Sullivan’s son Neil would likely only be out in the community for two hours per week due to her family’s inability to afford a higher staffing ratio.
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities issued proposed changes to its Individual Options Waiver rules that include proposals supported by The Arc Ohio. These changes include an add-on rate for individuals with complex care needs, increasing the environmental accessibility adaptations limit, and establishing shared living as a replacement for adult foster care and adult family care. This results in equal funding for related and unrelated caregivers.
Governor John Kasich approved a budget for the Department of Developmental Disabilities that includes $65 million in new funding. Major victories for The Arc Ohio include:
- 750 additional waiver slots;
- Increasing waiver reimbursement rates for individuals with complex care needs;
- An increase in wages for DSPs; and
- Funds for nurses to train and assess DSPs in delegated health-related tasks.
Connecticut began the new Fiscal Year on July 1 without a state budget. This leaves people with I/DD, their families, and providers uncertain of what services can be provided moving forward. Tom Fiorentino, President of the Board of Directors of The Arc Connecticut, told NBC Connecticut: “These are what I would term massive cuts to the very core of the private provider system in Connecticut, and that’s the system that provides about 90 percent of all assistance to people with intellectual disabilities, not state employees, private providers.” His son Daniel, who has Down Syndrome, works at a dermatologist’s office three days a week with the support of a job coach and attends a day program two days a week. These services are now at risk.
The Arc New Jersey organized families to testify before the Assembly Human Services Committee in opposition to Public Partnerships, LLC (PPL) as the fiscal intermediary for self-directed services. This move is part of the state’s move from an Agency with Choice model to a Fiscal/Employer Agent model, which makes the individual receiving services or his/her representative the employer of the service provider. The families expressed frustration with the bureaucratic nature of PPL and the fact that they do not provide health insurance for employees. Chairwoman Valerie Huttle announced at the end of the hearing that she will write to Department of Human Services Commissioner Elizabeth Connolly to share the concerns expressed during the hearing.
The Staten Island Advance recently published a letter to the editor from NYSARC’s President, Laura Kennedy. Kennedy wrote: “The defeat of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is only a short-term victory in a war far from over. We must continue to preserve and support the lifeline that tens of thousands of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers rely on . . . Medicaid. Cutting Medicaid would be catastrophic for people with disabilities and their families.”
This week, The Arc Virginia sent a strong letter to the state’s Congressional delegation opposing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and expressing grave concern about the Medicaid per capita cap proposals. The News Virginian published the chapter’s letter, which can be accessed here. “These proposals would cause harm to thousands of Virginians with developmental disabilities who rely on Medicaid for home and community based care and would impede efforts to address the unmet needs of Virginians on the Developmental Disability (DD) Waiver waiting list,” wrote Kim Goodloe, President of the chapter. “On behalf of the tens of thousands of Virginians with developmental disabilities and families who are affected by these proposals, we urge you to oppose the AHCA and speak publicly against the Medicaid per capita caps.”