Jill Smith, grant officer for The Arc Indiana, and Kelsey Cowley, President of Self-Advocates of Indiana, testified before an interim study committee of the Indiana General Assembly in support of supported decision making as an alternative to guardianship. Cowley stated: “An important part of self-advocacy is choice. We believe all people should have the choice to choose where, how and with whom they live their lives.” The committee recommended no action be taken until data from a pilot project in Wayne County is available.
The 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly concluded at the end of April and The Arc Indiana had a very successful session. Following is a summary of The Arc’s key legislative initiatives.
- Budget Bill: The two-year biennial state budget includes a 5% increase in Medicaid Waiver rates to increase DSP wages. And the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) program in Indiana received funding needed through the State Treasurer’s office to start marketing efforts and have the Treasurer serve as chairperson of the ABLE Board.
- Senate Resolution 44 – Supported Decision Making – A Senate Resolution, urging the legislative council to study the topic of supported decision making as an alternative option to adult guardianship, passed the Senate and will go to Legislative Council for consideration to be directed to a summer study committee for discussion.
- SB 61 – School Resource Officers – Requires a school resource officer to report all incidents of seclusion and restraint involving the school resource officer. Requires the commission on seclusion and restraint in schools to adopt rules concerning reporting requirements for the use of seclusion and restraint by school resource officers.
- SB 390 – Employment of Individuals with Disabilities – Provides that the policy of the state is to promote competitive, integrated employment, including self-employment as the first and preferred option when providing services to individuals with disabilities. Adds numerous members to the Commission on Rehabilitation Services. Adds additional responsibilities to the commission in regards to employment initiatives.
- HB 1102 – Task Force to Assess Services – Establishes a seventeen (17) member task force for assessment of services and supports for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
The chapter’s full legislative wrap up can be viewed here.
The Arc Indiana has successfully advocated for passage of SB 390, the Employment First bill, which makes competitive integrated employment the priority in Indiana’s disability service programs. Betty Williams, The Arc Indiana’s Consumer Education and Training Coordinator, spoke at the signing ceremony, noting: “I want you to think about how having a job makes you feel…Having a job means you have a reason to get up in the morning.”
The Arc Indiana continues to advocate for a DSP increase as the conference committee begins negotiations on the budget bill, HB 1001. The prospects for passage look good since it has been included in both the Senate and House versions of the budget and new projections show a $201 million growth in revenue over the next biennium.
The Arc Indiana continues its advocacy as the session moves into its final month. They have been supporting several bills including:
- HB 1001, the biennial budget bill, which passed the Senate with The Arc Indiana’s requested Medicaid Waiver rate increase for DSP salaries;
- SR 44, which would have urged the legislative council committee to study the issue of supported decision making, was pulled due to time constraints;
- SB 15, which establishes a registry for physicians, nurses, individuals, and caregivers for the use of cannabidiol to treat intractable epilepsy, and a pilot registry for physicians who want to study the use of cannabidiol to treat intractable epilepsy, and which has passed both houses and has been returned to the Senate with House amendments; and
- HCR 61, A resolution commemorating the 65th anniversary of ADEC, a Chapter of The Arc in Elkhart County, IN, which passed both houses.
The Arc Indiana continues to seek passage of the state budget bill, HB 1001, with the inclusion of both a 5% increase in Medicaid waiver rates for DSP wage increases and funding for the state’s qualified ABLE program. While they support many line items in the bill, the DSP wage increase is their top priority. They are asking advocates to contact their local Senators to ensure it remains in the bill.
The Arc Indiana successfully advocated for the inclusion of increased Medicaid waiver rates to fund a DSP wage increase and funding for the operation of the state’s ABLE program in the state budget bill, HB 1001, which recently passed out of the Indiana House of Representatives.
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 Indiana provided testimony on the state’s biennial budget bill (HB 1001) in support of a five percent increase in Medicaid Family Support Waiver and Community Integration and Habilitation Waiver reimbursement rates. Seventy-five percent of the increase would go toward increasing DSP wages to address the workforce shortage. Current wages leave DSPs only slightly above the federal poverty level for a family of three and at 33% of the state’s median family income.
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.