The 2017 Legislative Session has begun.
Families Will Need to Fight harder than ever for Funding for People with I/DD!
The 2017 Legislative session convened on January 4, 2017 and will adjourn on June 7, 2017. During odd-numbered years the General Assembly generates a two-year budget. This year, according to the CT Mirror "Connecticut stands on the cusp of an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The budget that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will present to the legislature Feb. 8, in an attempt to close $3 billion in deficits over the next two years, is only a portent of a far greater, long-term challenge facing the the state." (Phaneuf, Keith. Connecticut Standing On It's Own Fiscal Cliff. CT Mirror January 30, 2017)
Unfortunately this means families can expect to see budget proposals that will include massive cuts in services for people with I/DD. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore!
Making progress is in these difficult times will require that all who have services and all who need services do your part. Fighting to keep the services you have and to get the services you are still waiting for is up to you!
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The Arc Connecticut 2017 Legislative Plan
1. Protect Funding for Community Services
More than 90% of individuals with I/DD who receive supports, receive those supports in the community. Cuts to the following lines in the DDS & DSS budgets would cause reductions to community services and these are all Medicaid programs that receive federal reimbursement.
There should be no cuts in funding for people with I/DD at all, but if cuts must happen, they should be aimed at overtime, waste and inefficiencies in DDS institutions and other operations. In FY 2016, DDS still spent more than $45 million on overtime, which is about 18% of its total spending on personal services. We have shown that DDS is overstaffed and that overtime can be reduced by much more.
2. A Better Plan to Serve More People with I/DD
- We support the national trend of moving toward community-based residential supports and away from publicly-operated, institutional care and believe Connecticut needs to adopt a more progressive, inclusive, person centered approach.
- We support funding the needs of all individuals on DDS waiting lists – Residential, Day & Employment, Behavioral Services Program (BSP), Respite & Family Support Grants. DDS currently does not currently have the funding to address the needs of those who are waiting for services.
- We support conversion of state-operated group homes to private operations, but the rates paid to community based private providers must begin to support sustainable, living wages for support staff.
- We support the closure of Southbury Training School and the 3 remaining DDS Regional Centers. We believe millions in savings from closures should be reinvested into community based supports to serve a greater number of people with I/DD.
- We support the conversion of case management. In FY 2016, DDS spent $27 million on case managers and we believe that $18 million of that could be eliminated by the conversion to community based private providers.
- We support the conversion of respite services to community based private providers.
3. SAVE COMMUNITY FIRST CHOICE
Community First Choice a program offered to Medicaid eligible seniors and people with disabilities of all ages under the ACA Medicaid expansion.
According to the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS), there are approximately 1300-1500 seniors and people with disabilities currently enrolled in CFC and another 3,000 people with applications pending. CFC provides eligible individuals, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), access to personal care services. This program is a lifeline for people with IDD, providing the first real opportunity in years for people to move off a waiting list of over 2,000 people.
Although not a panacea, CFC is a way for some to finally obtain needed services and supports. The State advised the IDD community of CFC and, after careful scrutiny, enrolled families in the program. It is inexplicable and heartless to now pull the rug out from under them.
Click here to see a letter sent to Governor Malloy & Legislative leaders, signed by representatives from a broad cross section of 42 separate organizations and a variety of constituencies including IDD, seniors, autism, traumatic brain injury, disability rights, legal rights, providers and labor which shows that support for CFC runs deep in Connecticut.