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.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, testified at a hearing of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in favor increased rate for Family Stabilization Services. These rates are being increased by 2.72% in accordance with a settlement agreement. Maura testified that this increase is not sufficient to comply with the “integration mandate” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. The Arc Massachusetts believes these rates are insufficient to address the growing workforce shortage and leave families and individuals without properly trained and supervised staff.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc Massachusetts, the House voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s line-item vetoes of $6 million in Community Residential funding. Funding had already been cut by the conference committee. The override vote will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The Arc Pennsylvania is supporting HB 1650, which will close Pennsylvania’s five remaining state-run institutions. Executive Director Maureen Cronin, who was on the Pennhurst staff when it closed discussed the topic with the Tribune-Review. She is quoted as saying “You can’t deny that, at one time, there was a movement to separate people with disabilities from the community,” and “It’s hard to imagine that we would need legislation in 2017 to close these institutions. Nobody thought they would stay open that long.” The Arc Pennsylvania has a long history of advocating for institutional closures, including serving as chief plaintiff in the case that resulted in the closure of Pennhurst.
As a result of advocacy by The Arc Pennsylvania, HB 218, the state budget, which offered the highest level of support for people with disabilities in recent years, passed both houses of the legislature and became law. The budget includes:
- 1000 slots for a new Community Living Waiver capped at $70,000 per person per year;
- 820 Person/Family Directed Supports Waiver slots for special education graduates with ID and/or autism;
- 50 new Adult Autism Waiver slots; and
- Expansion of the Targeted Services Management State Plan to include more than 1,500 people with autism and/or ID on the waiting list.
The Massachusetts Senate hosted a heath care discussion at the state house in preparation for upcoming health care cost containment legislation. The discussion involved a panel on long term supports and services for people with disabilities that included Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc Massachusetts. The Arc Massachusetts is pleased that the State Senate is considering long term supports and services in its discussion of future health care legislation.
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.
Maura Sullivan, Director of Governmental Affairs for The Arc Massachusetts, recently testified at a hearing before the Executive Office of Health and Human Services on a proposed 2.72% increase in Community-Based Day Support Services rates. While The Arc Massachusetts is grateful for the increase, it is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act because it does not allow for the meaningful integration of beneficiaries in the community. For example, Sullivan’s son Neil would likely only be out in the community for two hours per week due to her family’s inability to afford a higher staffing ratio.
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities issued proposed changes to its Individual Options Waiver rules that include proposals supported by The Arc Ohio. These changes include an add-on rate for individuals with complex care needs, increasing the environmental accessibility adaptations limit, and establishing shared living as a replacement for adult foster care and adult family care. This results in equal funding for related and unrelated caregivers.
Governor John Kasich approved a budget for the Department of Developmental Disabilities that includes $65 million in new funding. Major victories for The Arc Ohio include:
- 750 additional waiver slots;
- Increasing waiver reimbursement rates for individuals with complex care needs;
- An increase in wages for DSPs; and
- Funds for nurses to train and assess DSPs in delegated health-related tasks.