On May 11, the Senate Ways & Means Committee released its FY’22 budget. The proposed budget reflects the legislature’s efforts to alleviate the challenges and difficulties the Commonwealth, and particularly the disability community, has faced this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also puts forth a thoughtful plan on how we move forward in an equitable way. The Committee’s budget invests over $2.39 billion in a variety of services and programs that assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism. We’re pleased to see the Senate maintain the House FY’22 budget increases in the DDS line items, including Day and Employment ($15 million increase), Transportation ($7 million increase) and Family Support ($7 million increase), with a total increase of $29 million.
MassHealth offered opportunities for stakeholders to submit recommendations regarding how to use funding for Home and Community Based Services provided by the federal government in the American Rescue Plan Act. The Commonwealth expects over $400 million in additional HCBS funds between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. The Commonwealth requested input through a defined Request for Information or “RFI.”
Nearly a year ago, during our COVID 19-sprint, someone commented, “embrace the uncertainty.” That approach depends on what we are uncertain about. But though we’ve learned to live with uncertainty, we continue to work together toward more clarity as reopening occurs. This blog and Monday’s Leo Live will touch on two major, related policy areas: Day Services and Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS).
This week, Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts will “reopen some outdoor Phase 4, Step 2 industries effective May 10th and put plans in place for further reopening on May 29th and August 1st.” What wasn’t said is very important to our community: When will re-opening of our community day and employment services take place?