Chad Sinanian, a self-advocate and member of the Board of Directors of The Arc Connecticut penned a letter to the editor in the News-Times discussing the harm caused to people with I/DD by the failure of the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor to pass a budget. He discussed the impact of the resulting cuts on people with disabilities who have lost services and are stuck at home. Additionally, he discussed a rally at which 300 people with I/DD and family members “staged a protest and send a strong clear message to the governor and Legislature that we will not allow people with disabilities to lose their program and services.”
The Arc Connecticut is advocating for funding for its services in the face of a lapse in Medicaid funding that threatens the services they provide and the constituents they serve. Shannon Jacovino, Director of Advocacy for The Arc Connecticut, was quoted in an article in the Hartford Courant discussing the average cost of serving people with I/DD in Connecticut. Kate Haaland, a parent advocate with The Arc Connecticut and her son Chris create a video explaining how important Medicaid is for him. Chris states: “I can have an amazing life……just like you. But only if Medicaid exists.” The chapter also held a rally at the state capitol that drew 300 people.
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.
The Arc Colorado has engaged its local chapter leaders in advocacy against the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Stephanie Garcia, Executive Director of The Arc Boulder, whose son with autism benefits from Medicaid, took part in a protest at U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s office. Carol Meredith, Executive Director of The Arc Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, and her son Alex were featured in a story in the Denver Post. Alex has autism and is able to live in the community and work at a local thrift store thanks to Medicaid.
NYSARC joined 25 other organizations in signing a letter to the New York Congressional delegation opposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The letter states: “The Senate bill retains the American Health Care Act’s dramatic cuts to the Medicaid program through the proposed per capita cap, lowering the cap even further in the out years, and targets high-cost states like ours specifically for further reductions.”
The Arc Illinois Executive Director Meg Cooch, Ligas Family Advocate Missy Kichline, and her daughter Sam Kichline presented at a press conference with Senator Dick Durbin on the Better Care Reconciliation Act. They highlighted the opportunities Sam has in the community because of Medicaid.
Congressman Tom MacArthur visited The Arc Ocean County in New Jersey to learn about the services the chapter provides. Executive Director Laura Williams gave Congressman MacArthur an overview of the chapter’s programs and explained the ways in which Medicaid is important to individuals the chapter serves. Additionally, Congressman MacArthur had a conversation with individuals with I/DD and their families who are served by the chapter. Photos from the event can be found on The Arc New Jersey’s Facebook page.
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 Ohio has been fighting a proposal to freeze enrollment in Medicaid expansion effective July 1, 2018. This proposal was included in the state budget, but Governor John Kasich exercised his line-item veto authority. Gary Tonks, CEO of The Arc Ohio, penned a letter to Governor Kasich urging him to veto the measure. Additionally, The Arc Ohio and other advocacy groups held a rally outside the Statehouse to protest attempts by the Ohio General Assembly to over-ride the measure. The Ohio of Representatives was unable to over-ride the veto.