The Arc Maryland Scores Victories in State Budget

The finalized budget for the State of Maryland contains many victories for The Arc Maryland including:

  • A 3.5% waiver rate increase to cover the cost of compliance with the Minimum Wage Act of 2014;
  • Funding for 789 individuals with I/DD aging out of the school system to receive employment and other day services;
  • Waiver slots for the Crisis Resolution category, or the 101 individuals with the most urgent needs;
  • Reducing the Family/Individual Support Capped Waiver and Community Support Capped Waiver Waiting lists by 400 each;
  • The use of the Waiting List Equity Fund derived from the sale of state institutions and deinstitutionalizing to fund waivers for 36 individuals with priority given to those with the oldest caregivers;
  • Community Services for 26 individuals with I/DD involved in the court system;
  • $250,000 for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD;
  • 100 new Autism Waiver slots; and
  • A $3.7 million increase for pre-kindergarten education.

The Arc Ohio Fights Harmful Budget Substitute

The Ohio House of Representatives has introduced a substitute to Governor John Kasich’s budget that includes many harmful changes to his proposed Medicaid budget including:

  • No New Funding for Waivers;
  • No Increase for ICF Rates;
  • No Increase for Direct Support Wages;
  • No Increase for Complex Care Add-On;
  • No Increase to Rate for ICF Adults on Ventilators;
  • No Increase for Families providing Shared Living;
  • A prohibition on increasing the number of slots available under the Individual Options (IO) and Self Empowered Life Funding (SELF) Medicaid waivers;
  • Prohibiting Medicaid rates from being increased for the purpose of encouraging providers to serve Medicaid recipients with complex care needs;
  • Prohibiting the restructuring of Medicaid rates for the purpose of encouraging the shared living service setting; and
  • Prohibits Medicaid rates from being increased for the purpose of increasing the wages of direct service staff.

The Arc Ohio is mobilizing their grassroots advocates to fight this harmful budget.

The Arc Pennsylvania Lauds “Best State Budget Proposal in a Decade”

The Arc Pennsylvania lauds Governor Tom Wolf’s newly proposed budget as the best in a decade.  Major improvements include:

  • $26.2 million for a new waiver called the “Community Living waiver” with slots for 1,000 individuals with ID currently on the waiting list and 820 Person/Family Directed Support waivers for recent high school graduates;
  • $195.9 million, a 14.7% increase, to provide home and community based services to more than 55,000 individuals and increase DSP wages;
  • $4.9 million decrease for State Centers;
  • $544,000 to transition 40 individuals out of state institutions and into the community as part of a litigation settlement;
  • $25 million increase for special education; and
  • $11.7 million for Preschool Early Intervention for 1,100 new children

In response to the budget, The Arc Pennsylvania’s Executive Director Maureen Cronin said: “Advocacy is frustrating work because we don’t always (well, almost never) see the impact right away, but times like this remind us that showing up makes a difference.”

The Arc Virginia Secures Modest Increase in Waiver Slots

The Arc Virginia’s advocacy efforts secured an additional 584 waiver slots in the state’s budget bill (HB 1500).  This includes 494 waivers for individuals on the waiting list and 90 for individuals transitioning out the state-run training centers. While The Arc Virginia welcomes this increase, the chapter is concerned that the bill provides no assistance to more than 80% of the 2,906 individuals currently on the priority 1 wait list or the 8,217 individuals on the Priority 2 and 3 wait lists.  Individuals on the priority 1 waiting list are those who: need services within one year of their request; require a high level of support; whose health and safety may be in jeopardy due to lack of a caregiver; or have immediate risk to their health and safety, that of their primary caregiver, or that of another person living in their home. The Arc Virginia has been sharing this infographic to help legislators understand the waiting list in the state’s newly re-designed system.

The Arc Minnesota Testifies at Hearings on Parental Fee Reduction Bills

The Arc Minnesota testified in favor of SF 807 and HF 1182.  These bills reduce the income-based parental fees for participation in TEFRA (a medical assistance program for children with disabilities) by 50%.  Parents testifying at the hearing discussed how the fees were depleting their savings, driving them into debt, and in some cases forcing them out of the program.  Steve Larson, Senior Policy Director at The Arc Minnesota, stated in his testimony: “It’s unconscionable that children in our state are not receiving the health care and therapies that they need because of these parental fees.”  The Star Tribune covered the hearing.

The Arc Connecticut Testifies About Excessive Overtime at State Institution

The Arc Connecticut recently testified before the state legislature regarding revelations of excessive overtime costs at Southbury Training School, an institution for people with I/DD, encouraging the state to move away from this institutional model of care and to use the savings to provide more services to people with I/DD in the community. The Southbury Training School paid $12.3 million in overtime to its 615 staff members in the last fiscal year. One direct care worker with a base salary of $60,225 received total compensation of $237,886.  The average cost per resident on the Southbury campus was $360,000, more than twice the cost per resident in the private sector, according to an analysis from the state of Connecticut.  Learn more about the issue here.

The Arc Maryland Hosts Developmental Disabilities Day at State Capitol, Continues Advocacy Effort in Legislative Committees

The Arc Maryland and other organizations in the Developmental Disability Coalition recently hosted Developmental Disabilities Day at the State Capitol.  There was a record turnout with 725 advocates in attendance.  Governor Larry Hogan attended the event to discuss his budget and his experience with a man with Down Syndrome who supported him while they were both receiving cancer treatment.  Advocates from The Arc Maryland also recently testified in favor of SB 475, the Crisis Resolution Waiting List bill, and the Maryland State Department of Education budget for increasing Autism Waiver slots.  Earlier that week, The Arc Maryland provided testimony in favor in HB 644, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act.

The Arc Minnesota Hosts Disability Matters Day at State Capitol

The Arc Minnesota and other disability advocacy groups recently hosted “Disability Matters Day” at the State Capitol.  Approximately 350 advocates attended, including representatives from seven local chapters of The Arc.  Advocates attended a rally and met with legislators. While a number of issues were discussed, the focus was on the dramatic increase in parental fees on services provided to children with I/DD through Medical Assistance programs which create a great strain on family budgets. Advocates noted that as a matter of policy, parental fees should not be so high that parents are forced to drop out of programs that provide needed services for their child due to the financial strain of the fees on the family budget. Kelly Kausel, an advocate with The Arc Greater Twin Cities, gave a powerful speech at the rally about the impact of parental fees on her family.

DSP Wage Increase Backed by The Arc Indiana Advances

As a result of The Arc Indiana’s advocacy, the Republican Amendment to Indiana’s biennial budget bill, HB 1001, includes funding to increase Medicaid Waiver services in order to increase wages for DSPs.  The amendment was approved by the House Ways and Means Committee and the bill is now pending before the full House.

The Arc of Pennsylvania Commends Governor Tom Wolf’s Budget Initiatives

The Arc of Pennsylvania issued a press release commending Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed improvements to I/DD services in the 2017-2018 budget, including $26.2 million in waiting list funding to ensure that over 800 high school graduates receive supports to transition to life in the community and meaningful employment. The budget will also provide funds to serve 1,000 individuals currently on the waiting list for emergency services through a new Community Living waiver option. Executive Director Maureen Cronin stated: “This is the type of investment Pennsylvania needs to ensure our disability service system supports individuals and families while using taxpayer dollars efficiently. Investing in services for young adults after they graduate means they will have a better chance at securing employment, creating a community network, and building skills instead of needing higher cost services later…This is the most forward thinking budget for people with disabilities in at least a decade, and it is clear the Governor heard the concerns of people with disabilities, families, and advocates.”