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.
Kelly Stahlman, a member of the Board of Directors of The Arc Colorado, was featured in a story on NBC.com. The story discusses her twin sons, Eric and Mark, who were born 12 weeks premature and have cerebral palsy and other health issues. Their family faced bills running in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year before qualifying for Medicaid. Because of Medicaid, her sons were able to live fulfilling lives in the community before they passed away at ages 22 and 23. In discussing proposals to change the bill to make less drastic cuts, Stahlman said: “There’s no negotiation that can change the core of this bill, which decimates Medicaid.”
The Arc North Carolina has been mobilizing forces to fight the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Service providers in their network have been organizing families to make calls to U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. Valerie Vizena, Executive Director of The Arc Forsyth County/Enrichment Center, penned a letter to the editor in the Winston-Salem Journal. She wrote: “This is a program that is pro-family, creates jobs, keeps families in the workforce and treats individuals with disabilities with the respect they deserve.”
The Arc Wisconsin and other disability and aging organizations coordinated an informational session for legislators and their staffers on Medicaid and the health care legislation being considered by Congress. The information session was co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Weatherson and Beth Meyers, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, respectively. Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin served as an expert speaker, and David Boelter, Executive Director of The Arc Fond du Lac, served as a panelist. Read more about the briefing here.
Representatives from The Arc Virginia attended a round table with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine to discuss Medicaid cuts proposed by the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Kim Goodloe, President of The Arc Virginia explained: “You cannot balance the health care act on the back of the most vulnerable citizens.”
The Arc New Jersey participated in a press conference with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez on the American Health Care Act. Eileen Stuart, mother of Laurie, who lives in a group home run by The Arc of Essex County, discussed the important role Medicaid played in her daughter’s life. She stated, “I can’t even begin to tell you what it would be like if the funding wasn’t there.” Joann Bergin, incoming President of The Arc New Jersey, penned letters to the editor published in the Times of Trenton, the Jersey Journal, and the Daily Journal discussing the devastating impacts Medicaid cuts will have on people with I/DD and educating the public about lesser-known but equally important aspects of Medicaid. She wrote: “Although many people know that Medicaid covers the cost of medical expenses for low-income individuals, they are less aware that it pays for the long-term supports and services on which people with I/DD depend. Medicaid provides more services than I can possibly list, but to name a few, it’s what allows people in New Jersey to live in group homes, attend day programs and receive behavioral supports.”
The Arc Virginia has been featured in two recent newspaper stories about the chapter’s advocacy opposing Medicaid per capita caps proposed in the American Health Care Act. The first, featured in Work It, SoVa, discusses the potential impact on The Arc Southside and their advocacy efforts in fighting it. Tonya Milling, Executive Director of The Arc Southside, described the tough decisions the chapter may have to make: “Do we serve Sally for free or do Sally and her family have to figure something out?” The second article, featured in The Virginian-Pilot, discusses the impact per capita caps could have on the state, including cuts in eligibility, reduced services, lower reimbursement rates, and shifting of funds from other state programs. Jamie Liban, Executive Director of The Arc Virginia explains: “It’s going to fall on the state to implement cuts, leaving the feds off the hook.” Staff members and volunteers from the chapter network throughout the state also recently participated in the “Rally to Save Medicaid” on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
NYSARC, in collaboration with the New York State Association of Community & Residential Agencies and the New York State Rehabilitation Association, recently hosted the fourth annual Community Integration Leadership Institute. The keynote speaker, Deborah Bachrach, former state Medicaid Director, discussed how the per capita caps in the American Health Care Act could result in the state losing $44 billion in federal funding. Since the per capita cap will be based on the 2016 Medicaid Budget, anything added in 2017, such as the increase in DSP wages the chapter fought for, will not be factored in.
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 Minnesota, as part of the “This is Medicaid” Coalition, hosted three town halls across the state on the proposed Medicaid cuts in the American Health Care Act. The town halls were held in Bloomington, Northfield, and St. Cloud. Attendance ranged from 20 in St. Cloud to 200 in Bloomington. At each town hall, coalition members discussed the basics of Medicaid and the many supports and services it provides to Minnesotans. Steve Larson, Senior Policy Director of The Arc Minnesota, and Cindy Owen, Executive Director of The Arc Midstate, were panelists at the St. Cloud town hall. Cindy shared her family’s story, and Steve discussed how Minnesotans with a variety of disabilities have benefitted from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, noting that Medicaid is a “lifeline for Minnesotans with disabilities and their families.” Attendees filled out cards sharing their families’ stories for the Congressional delegation.