The Arc Massachusetts is advocating for passage of S.1169, which allows for licensed mid-level dental professionals known as dental therapists to practice under the general supervision of a dentist or in a mobile or portable dental prevention program. Only 40% of dentists in Massachusetts accept Medicaid. The purpose of the bill is to address this shortage of dental services for underserved populations, including those with I/DD. The bill requires that the curriculum for dental therapists include training on working with patients with I/DD. In an article about the bill, Maura Sullivan, The Arc of Massachusetts, noted that she struggled for years to find preventative dental care for her two sons, both with autism, in part because many dentists in her area would not accept Medicaid disability benefits and stated: “I can’t tell you how many times I had to take my kids to an emergency room because of an abscessed tooth.”
The Arc of Indiana and INARF (another Indiana disability organization) recently organized a luncheon at the State House for freshmen legislators in order to educate new lawmakers on the priorities and concerns of the disability community.
The Arc of Texas has created a new online action center to serve as a resource for advocates to stay up-to-date on the latest issues affecting people with I/DD and their families and easily find and communicate with their legislators.
The Arc of New Mexico is involved in planning two events at the upcoming legislative session. The Disability Coalition, of which The Arc of New Mexico is a part, is planning a “Pre-Legislative-Session Forum and Legislative Advocacy Training” on January 7 to teach advocates about upcoming issues and how to advocate to your legislators. Additionally, The Arc of New Mexico is hosting a Disability Rights Awareness Day on February 23-24 at the state capitol, which includes visits with legislators and a rally.
Betty Williams, Consumer Education and Training Coordinator for The Arc of Indiana, has been reappointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The Committee provides advice to the President and to the Secretary of Health and Human Services concerning a broad range of topics relating to people with I/DD. Williams was also recently honored by the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) with the NACDD Champions of Equal Opportunity Award. The award is given to an individual who shares and promotes NACDD’s values of self- determination, independence, productivity, and inclusion. Williams was a member of the Indiana Developmental Disabilities Commission from 1998-2013 and has been an active member in Indiana’s self-advocacy movement since its founding in 1990. She served as President of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered from 2010 to 2012 and as President of Self Advocates of Indiana from 2005 to 2010.