The Arc Wisconsin is working with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources to develop a bill to recognize supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship. By providing legal recognition to supported decision-making agreements, professionals can be assured that supporters are legally authorized to view confidential documents.
The Arc Wisconsin is advocating for passage of LRB 0753, the Employment First bill, which makes competitive integrated employment a priority for state agencies that provide employment services to people with disabilities. The bill requires the Department of Workforce Development to collaborate with the department of Public Instruction and Health Services and other agencies to develop a plan to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities.
The Arc Wisconsin and other disability and aging organizations coordinated an informational session for legislators and their staffers on Medicaid and the health care legislation being considered by Congress. The information session was co-sponsored by Representatives Tom Weatherson and Beth Meyers, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, respectively. Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin served as an expert speaker, and David Boelter, Executive Director of The Arc Fond du Lac, served as a panelist. Read more about the briefing here.
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.”
Medicaid encompasses a wide array of state-administered programs with are unique in their operation and names. Many beneficiaries know the program’s name, but are unaware that it is part of Medicaid, and are therefore unaware it is in jeopardy if Congress passes the American Health Care Act. To help educate people with disabilities and their families, The Arc Wisconsin and The Arc Kentucky have released infographics listing the names of all Medicaid-funded programs in their states.
The Arc Wisconsin is advocating for a budget amendment to create a $5 million incentive fund to reward non-profit providers who improve compensation for DSPs. Because Wisconsin uses a managed care model, the state cannot directly increase rates for the purpose of increasing DSP wages. Incentive fund payments could be up to $1000 per full time employee and $500 per part time employee, depending on the number of applicants. Eligible providers must pay at least $10 per hour, contribute at least 70% of health insurance premiums, keep out-of-pocket health insurance costs below $4500, and contribute make an employer contribution of at least 3%; or pay at least $10 per hour and spend at least 65% of their general operating revenue on DSP salaries or benefits.
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.”
The Arc Wisconsin has published documents to help mobilize advocates to protect Medicaid. First, as part of the Survival Coalition, the chapter compiled a collection of stories demonstrating the importance of Medicaid to the 1st Congressional District, which House Speaker Paul Ryan represents. Additionally, the chapter collaborated with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and People First Wisconsin to create a guide to proposed Medicaid changes for self-advocates. The document first explains the broad range of services Medicaid covers from medical care to job coaches. Next, it provides a plain language explanation of how a per capita cap would work, examples of ways the state might change the program to save money, gives sample questions for policymakers, and lists key policymakers for self-advocates to contact.
The Arc Wisconsin, in collaboration with People First Wisconsin, released a summary of Governor Scott Walker’s budget geared toward self-advocates. The budget classifies funding in priority areas as “good” or “needs work” and provides brief descriptions and talking points. Additionally, it includes a flowchart of the budget process.
As a result of The Arc Wisconsin’s advocacy efforts, The Madison Common Council approved an ordinance change ending the use of subminimum wage for city employees with disabilities. In a press release from The Arc Wisconsin, Wisconsin Board of People with Developmental Disabilities, and the Madison Mayor’s Office, Lisa Pugh, Executive Director of The Arc Wisconsin, stated “This step in recognizing the civil rights of people with disabilities to equal pay sends a strong message. The Arc Wisconsin thanks Madison for once again leading the way.”