The Arc Michigan is advocating for passage of SB 541, which creates a system of licensure for dental therapists. Dental therapists would be allowed to perform certain procedures currently reserved for dentists only. They must work under the supervision of a dentist in a setting for underserved populations, such as people with I/DD. Dental therapists could help address the severe shortage of dental providers that limits access to care, especially for people with I/DD. SB 541 was approved by the Committee on Health Policy.
The Arc Michigan has been busy fighting against several harmful legislative proposals including:
- HB 4205, which would restrict the ability of state agencies to promulgate rules that go above federal requirements, such as Michigan’s requirement that public schools provide education to students with disabilities up until age 26, rather than the federal requirement of 21;
- HB 4598, which freezes enrollment in Medicaid Expansion after September 30, 2017; and
- Budget language shifting all Medicaid Benefits into managed care.
The Arc Michigan is opposing Section 298 of House Bill 4323, the omnibus budget bill, which requires the establishment of a single behavioral health managed care organization and pilot and integrated physical and behavioral health model. The Arc Michigan opposes moving to a managed care system because it would move control of the system from a board appointed by elected officials and subject to open meetings laws to private companies. Additionally, private health plans might not understand person-centered planning and individualized supports.
The Arc of Michigan successfully advocated for the passage of a package of bills (HB 5618, 5619, 5620, 5621, 5693, 5694 and 5695) that would modify current “zero tolerance” policies regarding school suspension and expulsion to include consideration of situation-specific factors. They would also require consideration of restorative justice measures in disciplinary situations, encourage adoption of policies that emphasize restorative justice, and require reporting of certain incidents and disciplinary actions. The bills are now being prepared for presentation to Governor Rick Snyder for signature.
Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, whose daughter has autism, held a press conference at the Macomb Oakland Regional Center this week covered by ABC News Detroit in order to respond to the Mayor of Warren, Michigan, Jim Fouts, making extremely disparaging and offensive comments about individuals with I/DD in a conversation that was secretly recorded and released. The Arc of Michigan’s Director of Public Policy, Dohn Hoyle, attended the press conference. In response to the release of the tape, Lieutenant Governer Calley has launched a GoFundMe page for The Arc Michigan where he writes that “Every single person has value and worth. We must be vigilant in defending the dignity of all people, especially those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.”
The Arc Michigan successfully advocated for passage of HB 5409-5417. This package of bills prohibits the use of restraint of seclusion in public schools except in emergency situations; prohibits mechanical or chemical restraint or restraint that inhibits breathing; requires parental notification; and requires staff training. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley was instrumental in getting this legislation passed.
As a result of The Arc Michigan’s advocacy efforts, along with others in the disability community, the state of Michigan recently launched it’s ABLE program. Find out more about how to open an account here.