The Arc Massachusetts Continues Advocacy for Nicky’s Law

The Arc Massachusetts is continuing to advocate for passage of Nicky’s Law (formerly S.64/H.80, now S.2213/H.4026), which creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. As a result of the chapter’s efforts it has been reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The Arc Massachusetts Continues Advocacy for Dental Therapist Licensure

The Arc Massachusetts is continuing to seek passage of S. 1169, which creates a system of licensure for dental therapists. Massachusetts has a severe shortage of dentists who serve people with I/DD, and even fewer accept Medicaid. The purpose of the bill is to address this shortage of dental services for underserved populations, including those with I/DD. The bill requires that the curriculum for dental therapists include training on working with patients with I/DD. Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for the chapter testified before the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committee on Public Health. She discussed her challenges finding quality dental care for her son, Neil and Tyler, who have autism and mitochondrial disease. Their dentist ignored tooth decay until it was severe enough to require hospitalization and anesthesia because he was unable to treat them without it. She stated, “They deserve better care, more effort and I needed more communication and oral hygiene support strategies.”

The Arc Massachusetts Testifies in Favor of Family Stabilization Services Rate Increase

Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified at a hearing of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in favor increased rate for Family Stabilization Services. These rates are being increased by 2.72% in accordance with a settlement agreement. Maura testified that this increase is not sufficient to comply with the “integration mandate” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. The Arc Massachusetts believes these rates are insufficient to address the growing workforce shortage and leave families and individuals without properly trained and supervised staff.

The Arc Massachusetts Secures House Passage of Veto Override

As a result of advocacy by The Arc Massachusetts, the House voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s line-item vetoes of $6 million in Community Residential funding. Funding had already been cut by the conference committee. The override vote will now go to the Senate for consideration.

The Arc Massachusetts Participates in Health Care Discussion Hosted by State Senate

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.

The Arc Massachusetts Advocates for Higher Staff Ratios for Community-Based Day Support Services

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 Arc Massachusetts Director of Government Affairs Testifies in Favor of Bill Providing Student Loan Forgiveness for Human Services Workers

Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified in favor of H.116/S.42 at a hearing before the General Court’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The bill provides student loan forgiveness to graduates who work in the human services field, including DSPs. During her testimony, she stated: “Direct care workers are the glue that holds this community together and we are in crisis due to a shortage.”

The Arc Massachusetts Director of Government Affairs Testifies in Favor of Nicky’s Law

Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified in favor of Nicky’s Law (S.64/H.80) at a hearing of the General Court’s Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. The bill creates a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee. During her testimony, she stated: “As I sit here today, I think about my oldest son, Neil, who is making a transition next week into 24/7 services, where I will not be able to supervise who is with him day to day and every night. I just don’t have words strong enough to describe the importance of keeping my non-verbal, loving and vulnerable son and all of our sons and daughters safe. We must pass this overdue legislation now and implement it immediately.”

The Arc Massachusetts Advocates for Passage of Nicky’s Law

The Arc Massachusetts is advocating for the passage of Nicky’s Law (S 64/H 80), which will create a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee.