Two chapters of The Arc Connecticut, The Arc Favarh and The Arc Litchfield, hosted a meeting with state Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), and Representatives Jay Case (R-Winchester), Mike Demicco (D-Farmington), John Hampton (D-Simsbury), and Derek Slap (D-West Hartford). Parents and self-advocates at the meeting implored the legislators to restore funding for disability services, which has lapsed due to the state’s failure to pass a budget. The legislators assured attendees that they were sympathetic, but did not reveal what a future budget may look like. Lauren Traceski, a client of The Arc Favarh, discussed being unable to work on a few days this summer because her employment supports weren’t funded and said, “A job is how we show our success.” See The Arc Connecticut’s Facebook page and this article from the Hartford Courant for more information.
The Arc Mercer, a local chapter of The Arc New Jersey, recently created a self-advocacy organization for LGBTQ people with I/DD called Special Needs Alliance for Pride (SNAP). SNAP serves the role of providing support, socialization, and advocacy. Lt. Governor candidate and former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver recently attended an event they hosted to speak to members about the importance of diversity in the state.
The Arc Minnesota and other organizations are participating in Renter’s Week of Action, which takes place September 18-22. This series of Events in the Twin Cities provides organizations with an opportunity to collaborate, learn from each other and take action to expand access to affordable housing. The week involves multiple rallies, forums and other advocacy opportunities. Ellen Baudler, Director of Housing Access for the chapter, will attend a St. Paul City Council hearing to advocate for housing for people with disabilities at the site of a demolished Ford truck assembly plant.
The Arc California held a rally at the state Capitol in support of AB 279, which increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for wages of DSPs in cities with a minimum wage higher than the state’s. Over 500 marchers were in attendance. Legislators who spoke at the rally include Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco), and Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland). The Senate appropriation committee did not approve AB 279, but advocates are optimistic because of the number of legislators who participated in the rally.
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.
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.
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.
The Arc New Jersey, as part of the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage, organized a group of more than 50 family members, self-advocates, providers, and DSPs to visit the State House and advocate for higher wages for DSPs. They met with at least 50 elected officials, including Senate President Steve Sweeney and members of both Budget Committees. For more information, visit the Coalition Facebook page.
Medicaid encompasses a wide array of state-administered programs with are unique in their operation and names. Many beneficiaries know the program’s name, but are unaware that it is part of Medicaid, and are therefore unaware it is in jeopardy if Congress passes the American Health Care Act. To help educate people with disabilities and their families, The Arc Wisconsin and The Arc Kentucky have released infographics listing the names of all Medicaid-funded programs in their states.