Leo’s Letter: The Impact is Personal

For adults with disabilities, services sometimes are the only thing separating them from homelessness. For others, the lack of services may mean an increase in behaviors or other symptoms such as depression. And for family members, it may mean staying at home or being the driver throughout the week to make sure a son or daughter or sibling can get to where they need to go. Continue reading

Leo’s Letter: October Reminds Us Our Work is Far from Done!

In November 2013, the Massachusetts “Blueprint for Success” was released. The plan changed day and employment services for our constituents served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). The state moved away from sheltered work and segregated settings to more individualized employment and community-based day support for those who weren’t going to be able to work full-time independently or with intermittent assistance. Continue reading

Leo’s Letter: Sometimes It’s Just Simple

Why is The Arc so strongly behind S. 1169, a bill that would allow dental therapists to operate quasi-independently in our Commonwealth? The reasons are simple:
  • Because of the lack of dentists who serve adults with disabilities (intellectual, developmental, autism, etc.); we hear stories about long delays in dental care which result in emergency room visits and extractions.
  • Because even fewer dentists are available for those on MassHealth – imagine the impact not only on our constituents but on all families who rely on MassHealth dental coverage for their children and themselves.
  • Because prevention and ongoing monitoring are neglected.
  • Because it’s so bad that the state has a contract with Tufts Dental Clinic (thank you, Tufts!) to address the needs of thousands of our constituents. We may always need that additional support, but it will never be adequate to meet the needs of all our constituents, who should have local options regardless.

Maura Sullivan testifying. Continue reading

Leo’s Letter: Uncertainty

On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed an additional $320 million from the legislature’s state budget, including a cut of more than $7 million from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget. The impact of the reductions mean uncertainty for many people and this will be heightened by the continued uncertainty caused by Capitol Hill policy makers. Although we believe that the legislature will override the Governor’s vetoes, we don’t know for certain. This week US Senate Majority Leader McConnell said, “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” He added that he will keep trying. Those attempts may affect both the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Again, an uncertain future is leaving states, service providers, and recipients in confusion. In a 2016 Forbes opinion piece, Neil Howe wrote, “When we leave our comfort zone, everything changes. We no longer know how the world works. We become anxious and fearful… Minutes turn into hours.” In confusion, Howe says people act. We know many people with disabilities will be wondering about their future. They will be looking for certainty. But it’s not about just this year. Are we facing a decade-long fight over Medicaid and health care? What will that mean for the services that our constituents require?  Multiply the clouds caused by today’s uncertainty hundred-fold! When we face uncertainty, we often avoid planning for the future. When we act quickly, disappointing outcomes follow. Let’s not bend to uncertainty. Let’s act where we know we can make a difference.  Join us in building a more certain future!