Updates On Massachusetts American Rescue Plan Act Spending, The Arc’s Priority Bills

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a $3.82 billion bill to spend about half of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. This week, the Senate will debate its own version. They aim to deliver a bill to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk by next week before the Legislature takes a recess.

The House approved $300 million for Home and Community Based Services for our constituents and for the workforce. There was also $39.4 million invested in the human services rate reserve – to support the rate increase for Direct Support Professionals to $16.79. These are measures that will help with the unprecedented workforce crisis and help individuals and families obtain services and supports.

Turning to legislation, The Arc testified and provided written testimony at two hearings this week. Continuing our work on healthcare equity, Maura Sullivan, Director of Government Affairs and Operation House Call, joined several advocates and organizations to support Representative Josh Cutler and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz’s bill (H1256/S745) to ensure people with disabilities are valued the same as people without disabilities in our healthcare system.

Given the issues that we fought with the Crisis Standards of Care (ensuring people with disabilities were not de-prioritized for care) and the implicit bias that many faced during the pandemic, this critical human rights bill is a priority to The Arc.

You can watch the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance live stream here.

More hearings are coming in the next two weeks and written testimony for bills already heard is still needed. Contact Maura Sullivan for more information about providing testimony at sullivan@arcmass.org.

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