The Baltimore Sun published an editorial discussing the sale of the Rosewood Center, a former state institution, to Stevenson University for $1 along with an agreement to pay $16 million to help cover the costs of cleaning up environmental contamination. The Arc Maryland has sought commitments from Stevenson University to provide scholarships for student with I/DD in conjunction with a new state program, adopt a curriculum to train graduates to work in the I/DD field, and provide employment opportunities for people with I/DD. The editorial states “The developmentally disabled community has waited far too long already for the kinds of opportunities the Arc is proposing.”
The Arc Connecticut is advocating for funding for its services in the face of a lapse in Medicaid funding that threatens the services they provide and the constituents they serve. Shannon Jacovino, Director of Advocacy for The Arc Connecticut, was quoted in an article in the Hartford Courant discussing the average cost of serving people with I/DD in Connecticut. Kate Haaland, a parent advocate with The Arc Connecticut and her son Chris create a video explaining how important Medicaid is for him. Chris states: “I can have an amazing life……just like you. But only if Medicaid exists.” The chapter also held a rally at the state capitol that drew 300 people.
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.
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 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.
Lisa Pugh, Director of The Arc Wisconsin appeared on “Upfront” on WISN Channel 12, Milwaukee’s ABC News affiliate, to discuss President Trump’s proposed federal budget. She discussed the proposed $600 billion in cuts to Medicaid beyond the cuts in the American Health Care Act. Additionally, she explained that a block grant or per capita cap would punish Wisconsin because the initial funding would be based on the previous year’s spending. She stated “It locks us in. I think because we have been efficient, the amount of money we would be receiving in that scenario would be lower than a lot of other states and I think it puts people at risk.”
Jon Meyers, Executive Director of The Arc Arizona, wrote a letter to the editor published in the Arizona Capitol Times opposing HCR 2013, which petitions for the creation of an Article V constitutional convention for the purpose of passing a balanced budget amendment. The constitution requires petitions from the legislatures of two-thirds (34) of the states in order to create an Article V convention. The State Legislature’s approval makes Arizona the 28th state to petition for an Article V Convention. Meyers describes the risk involved in creating a convention, given that it is unclear whether state legislatures can limit its scope. Additionally, he explains that a balanced budget is not always prudent, especially during economic downturns. The inability to run a deficit during an economic downturn could endanger many programs that benefit people with disabilities, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Meyers proposed solving federal budget woes using “scalpel, rather than an ax.”
Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin, appeared on WisconsinEye Newsmakers, a state-wide television program, to discuss the threats to Medicaid in the American Health Care Act. She explained the overlooked role Medicaid plays in the lives of people with disabilities by providing the opportunity to live outside of institutions. Additionally, she explained that per capita caps in the federal legislation are inevitably reduction in federal funding that shift costs to states. She noted: “this is a decision being made in Washington, but it’s going to come right here to the Capitol Dome.”