I worry sometimes about the shape of disability services to come. I’m heartened by stories, uplifting ones about individuals who have succeeded in their journey. Their drive and skills were supported by family and good staff along the way.
At The Arc, we continually think about what we need to do on behalf of or share with our constituency – which is YOU! The past several days were no different as we tried to re-boot the passage of Nicky’s Law, which would establish an Abuse Registry, during the legislature’s informal session. Thank goodness for stakeholders who are passionate about this essential bill to protect people with disabilities. I’m glad to see an ongoing dialogue regarding passage of this bill and we hope that the House will join the Senate shortly in its passage. The administration continues to signal its full support.
In my experience, most people want a connection. They want to belong to something, to be connected to others – and that’s true for people with disabilities, too. I was thinking about this topic again due to the inspirational presentation by Erik Carter of Vanderbilt University at The Arc’s Summer Leadership Institute in Philadelphia.
Today is one of those good days. Yesterday afternoon, we celebrated the positive news from the State House’s Conference Committee led by Chairs Jeffrey Sanchez and Karen Spilka. The conferees gave us the highest funding possible from the two versions of the budget released earlier this session. At 7:57 pm last night, Mike Moore’s office gave us word that the Senate had passed Nicky’s Law – a registry bill which will prevent staff who have abused adults in the Dept. of Developmental Services (DDS) program or service to work in another DDS setting.
- Nationally, the spotlight on food stamps continues, as the House once again attempts to reduce SNAP. The program, through states, helps people with disabilities and families who don’t have enough food.
- Statewide, we have over $5 million in services at stake as the Conference Committee debates the final budget. These resources directly affect people’s ability to obtain employment, family supports, and adult family/foster care.
- MassHealth changes are also in process and coming soon.
The Arc has tried to help people directly (through advocacy) and indirectly (through information) to address the massive change affecting 1,178,906 people through the introduction of private health plans for obtaining MassHealth funded health care. Active plan choosers – individuals who evaluated which plan may be the right fit for them – totaled near 20%. What worries us, therefore, is the number of people who were automatically enrolled into plans and may have to find new specialists for their chronic conditions.