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.
The Arc Massachusetts is advocating for the passage of Nicky’s Law (S 64/H 80), which will create a registry of individuals against whom there is a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect of a person with I/DD by the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission and requires provider agencies to check the registry before hiring a new employee.
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.”
As a result of The Arc Massachusetts’ advocacy, Governor Charlie Baker’s supplemental budget includes funding for the “Turning 22” program that provides services for adults with I/DD who turn 22 and therefore are no longer eligible for services through their school districts. This program is a high priority for The Arc Massachusetts. Additionally, the chapter is seeking supplemental funding for adult foster/family care cut relief, day and employment services, services for adults with autism, Operation House Call, and dental health services.