Starting today, our COVID-19 updates will be shared with our weekly Notes from The Arc. This doesn’t change our updates’ relevance, as uncertain and atypical times continue!
Our day-employment services offered by MassHealth and the Department of Developmental Services will change significantly as re-opening occurs. This is due to funding as much as it is due to distance limitations caused by the pandemic – limitation in vehicles and limitations in buildings. We know that COVID-19 is transferred through close contact – many of the participants have other medical conditions that need to be considered and others cannot safely practice social distance.
Through your advocacy, additional funding is being negotiated, but it may not be enough to address the re-opening adequately as many settings will serve less than 50% fewer people than they did in early March. With your continued advocacy (please stay connected!), the Commonwealth will have some constructive solutions for adequate funding of day and employment programs (DDS-funded, MassHealth day habilitation, etc.) and alternative options, even if part-time for those who must remain away from large groups of people or for whom transportation will not be adequate.
With an estimated population of 18,000 being served, and a large portion facing barriers to services, your continued advocacy will be vital.
The Center for Public Representation coordinated a meeting with advocacy groups regarding health care for persons with disabilities with Secretary Marylou Sudders (Executive Office of Health and Human Services). Maura Sullivan, our Director of Government Affairs and Operation House Call, was one of the speakers focused on the education of health care professionals.
The meeting was to request more revisions to our state’s “Crisis Standards of Care” and visitation policy in the event there was a significant surge in the pandemic. Secretary Sudders agreed with representatives that the guidance could be clearer on visitation and she would address that as well as consider other input. She also asked Maura to contact her government affairs lead so that they could review one of the health care education bills on our platform and assist in passage. We appreciate her continued willingness to meet and discuss key policy issues.