“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
So said Abraham Lincoln in 1858 as he made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate. There is no question that today, our country is much divided. But The Arc cannot afford to be divided. Regardless of the barriers or the conflicts, we have to work to address inequities and the common human needs of our constituents.
On Tuesday, Julie Coppenrath accompanied me to Washington D.C. Julie is an Operation House Call (OHC) team member and a parent. We received a briefing from two of the best disability advocates on the Hill – Marty Ford, who leads The Arc Policy team in D.C., and Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy. I also introduced her to several others at The Arc, including CEO Peter Berns.
The visit reminded me of how united we are in our goals and how vital national advocacy efforts are for all of us. Without Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, or special education law, where would we be?
This week there were several hot spots on Capitol Hill. On September 13, a conference committee in Congress released an appropriations package that includes some of our key programs (31 line items). For example, federal funding for special education, Respite, and Maternal and Child Health are included.
A second hot policy item is the “Money Follows The Person” (MFP) program, which has funded transitions to the community from institutions since 2005. Action is needed this year and both branches have bills to renew the MFP program. The House bill passed out of committee this month and Congressman Capuano is a co-sponsor. We are reaching out to our entire delegation and expect they will sign on.
Our house, The Arc, is united and we need you to share your voice. We have the tools to help you do that.
All our constituents have the right to live full lives in the community. Let’s not let them down.
Leo V. Sarkissian