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.
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.
The state budget recently signed into law by Governor Chris Christie included funding for several priorities for The Arc New Jersey, including:
- $10 million for community-based services for people currently on the Community Care Waiver Waiting List;
- $8.6 million for community-based residential placements for 54 people currently living in state institutions;
- $1 million for 125 new housing vouchers;
- $46.2 million for service expansion for current and new Supports Program participants; and
- $23.9 million for general division growth.
The finalized budget for the State of Maryland contains many victories for The Arc Maryland including:
- A 3.5% waiver rate increase to cover the cost of compliance with the Minimum Wage Act of 2014;
- Funding for 789 individuals with I/DD aging out of the school system to receive employment and other day services;
- Waiver slots for the Crisis Resolution category, or the 101 individuals with the most urgent needs;
- Reducing the Family/Individual Support Capped Waiver and Community Support Capped Waiver Waiting lists by 400 each;
- The use of the Waiting List Equity Fund derived from the sale of state institutions and deinstitutionalizing to fund waivers for 36 individuals with priority given to those with the oldest caregivers;
- Community Services for 26 individuals with I/DD involved in the court system;
- $250,000 for inclusive higher education programs for students with I/DD;
- 100 new Autism Waiver slots; and
- A $3.7 million increase for pre-kindergarten education.
The Ohio House of Representatives has introduced a substitute to Governor John Kasich’s budget that includes many harmful changes to his proposed Medicaid budget including:
- No New Funding for Waivers;
- No Increase for ICF Rates;
- No Increase for Direct Support Wages;
- No Increase for Complex Care Add-On;
- No Increase to Rate for ICF Adults on Ventilators;
- No Increase for Families providing Shared Living;
- A prohibition on increasing the number of slots available under the Individual Options (IO) and Self Empowered Life Funding (SELF) Medicaid waivers;
- Prohibiting Medicaid rates from being increased for the purpose of encouraging providers to serve Medicaid recipients with complex care needs;
- Prohibiting the restructuring of Medicaid rates for the purpose of encouraging the shared living service setting; and
- Prohibits Medicaid rates from being increased for the purpose of increasing the wages of direct service staff.
The Arc Ohio is mobilizing their grassroots advocates to fight this harmful budget.
The Arc Ohio is advocating for passage of a provision in HB 49, the state budget bill, that requires the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to adopt new rules regarding waiting list operations, which many families consider too complex. These rules must be re-written in consultation with individuals with developmental disabilities, organizations representing people with developmental disabilities and their families, provider organizations, and the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.
The Arc Pennsylvania has released its budget and policy priorities for the legislative session including:
- Enacting new revenue measures to fund a waiting list reduction such as a $2 admission fee at each establishment with slot machines, an additional four cent tax on cigarettes, and an increase in the tax on table games from 12% to 14%;
- Continuing efforts to close the remaining state institutions;
- Improving school climate by expanding Statewide Positive Behavior Supports and ending unnecessary restraint and seclusion;
- Ending organ transplant discrimination; and
- Placing the burden of proof on school district rather than parents in IDEA disputes.
The Arc Virginia’s advocacy efforts secured an additional 584 waiver slots in the state’s budget bill (HB 1500). This includes 494 waivers for individuals on the waiting list and 90 for individuals transitioning out the state-run training centers. While The Arc Virginia welcomes this increase, the chapter is concerned that the bill provides no assistance to more than 80% of the 2,906 individuals currently on the priority 1 wait list or the 8,217 individuals on the Priority 2 and 3 wait lists. Individuals on the priority 1 waiting list are those who: need services within one year of their request; require a high level of support; whose health and safety may be in jeopardy due to lack of a caregiver; or have immediate risk to their health and safety, that of their primary caregiver, or that of another person living in their home. The Arc Virginia has been sharing this infographic to help legislators understand the waiting list in the state’s newly re-designed system.
The Arc Maryland and other organizations in the Developmental Disability Coalition recently hosted Developmental Disabilities Day at the State Capitol. There was a record turnout with 725 advocates in attendance. Governor Larry Hogan attended the event to discuss his budget and his experience with a man with Down Syndrome who supported him while they were both receiving cancer treatment. Advocates from The Arc Maryland also recently testified in favor of SB 475, the Crisis Resolution Waiting List bill, and the Maryland State Department of Education budget for increasing Autism Waiver slots. Earlier that week, The Arc Maryland provided testimony in favor in HB 644, the Independent Living Tax Credit Act.
The Arc Maryland is advocating for the passage of SB 475, which would require an additional $3.5 million each year in the state budget to reduce the Developmental Disabilities Administration Waiting List by approximately 100 per year. The additional waiver slots would be given to those who are “homeless, living in time-limited temporary housing, at serious risk of physical harm or at risk of causing physical harm to others, or are living with a caregiver whose inability to provide the individual with adequate care due to the impaired health of the caregiver may place the individual at risk of serious physical harm.”