Your voice can make a significant difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

 

AHRC Nassau, The Arc New York and today’s service model originated 70 years ago due to the advocacy efforts of people with disabilities, their family members, friends and supporters. Share your perspectives and let lawmakers know the strong community that stand up for the issues impacting people all abilities, especially:

Medicaid/Managed Care: Medicaid is the backbone of services to people with developmental disabilities across the nation and in New York State. AHRC Nassau, along with thousands of other developmental disabilities providers and advocates across the nation, vigilantly defend the Medicaid program from further action in Washington which would devastate the families we serve and the services we provide. Also, as the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) continues its transition into managed care, we advocate for increased standardization, new models of care coordination and investments in both state agency and provider agency levels.

  • For the upcoming election, at stake is control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the future of the Medicaid program, which provides over 90 percent of funding for programs and services for people with developmental disabilities. Your vote is crucial. We encourage you to consider the voting record of your local representatives on the issue of Medicaid, in particular the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid by over $1 trillion: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll256.xml

#bFair2DirectCare:Increase funding of direct support professionals (DSPs), the people who assist people with disabilities with self-care, medication, recreation and all necessary supports. Funding limitations have resulted in staffing shortages and vacancies for these positions crucial to daily living. $191 million was approved in the final state budget to fund two consecutive 3.25% wage increases for DSPs in 2018. However, that is not enough to fund a living wage. We request additional yearly wage increases of 3.25% for direct care and clinical staff in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to ensure that these employees are paid a living wage. We support Assembly bill A10712 (Gunther) – which will be reintroduced in 2019 – and the recent Senate bill S8184A (Ortt).

Residential Development: Thousands of New York State residents with developmental disabilities are waiting for homes. Many are in immediate need, facing an onerous and unclear process. We advocate for increased residential development, especially with regard to aging caregivers living at home with their adult offspring. We support the Fair Access to Individualized Residences (FAIR) Housing Act, that would give family caregivers the right to request a “caregiver assessment” from OPWDD, and depending on the outcome, an immediate out-of-home residential placement. We also propose sufficient residential development to: 1) transparently assess the number of people who have requested or need residential services and keep a wait list with a publically available summary; 2) streamline the eligibility process so that people on the wait list can have their eligibility rapidly assessed and established; 3) make other administrative enhancements necessary to more efficiently match people in need with existing vacancies; and 4) provide capital and operating funding to establish as many new residential opportunities as necessary to meet the needs of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.

Employment/Transition Services: The majority of adults with developmental disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed. To promote employment for people with developmental disabilities, we propose new supports to: 1) enhance employer tax credits; 2) secure additional funding for job coaches and other supports; 3) create state jobs; 4) pay subminimum wages, when appropriate; 5) create a pilot program that subdivides state jobs into simpler component parts to provide minimum wages, and integrated employment for people who otherwise could not perform the entire job; 6) transform workshops into integrated businesses; and 7) give people in sheltered workshops the right to choose to remain in that setting with the Employment First Choice Act.

Preschool/Early Intervention Services: Preschools that serve children with developmental disabilities are paid significantly less than it costs to operate them; the state reimburses these programs at 94% of allowable cost and even less than actual costs. Due to teacher compensation gaps between special education and public schools, we also continue to have teacher recruitment and retention challenges. We propose new supports to:
1) a 4% tuition increase for special education schools; 2) the inclusion of a statutory index for annual tuition increases for 4410 preschools and 853 special education schools, and the establishment of a reserve fund to maintain fiscal viability; 3) providing $18 million for special education schools to narrow the teacher compensation gap; 4) setting aside Universal Pre-Kindergarten seats to ensure classroom integration with 4410 special education preschools; and 5) providing a 4% Early Intervention rate increase to address 20+ years of flat/decreasing rates.

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