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Forum With Senator Elizabeth Warren!

Thursday, March 16th, I had the pleasure to hear Senator Elizabeth Warren speak to a crowd of over 250 people regarding disabilities, Medicaid and other topics in Framingham. The Senator called upon us to work hard every day to tell members of Congress and the Trump Administration why Medicaid is so critical and important to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, Autism and other disabilities.

Senator Warren’s first job was as a Special Education teacher. She reminded us that without Medicaid providing support to community and state programs, 1000s of people with disabilities would lose their place in the community, ability to work, and to be a part of everyday life. She stated that the Trump budget will deeply cut Medicaid and converting it to a Block Grant would destroy the infrastructure of services provided to agencies, such as WCI. Medicaid is the funding that all providers have access in order to support people and to fund DDS and MCB at the level it is today in Massachusetts.

The Senator called upon providers, families, self-advocates and friends to not give up on preserving essential elements of the ACA and Medicaid, to create a public outcry against draconian cuts and ensure our voices are heard. The full Massachusetts delegation in Congress is in support of disability and human service concerns, but they urged that we contact our family and friends in other states to do the same.

Massachusetts receives 50 cents on the dollar for every dollar spent in the state on services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities under the Medicaid Waiver. This benefits all of the Individuals served and the workforce that supports them.

We are asking our WCI community to seriously consider sending an email with this link to Congress, but not only your Representative and Senators, to also your friends and family members in other states to send the same message! We support the most vulnerable people to live meaningful lives at home, at work and in the community, which is WCI’s mission. Please feel free to edit and write your own customized message whether you are a service provider, family member or self-advocate. Send the link to friends and family in other states! ANCOR is a national provider organization, and your messages count no matter where you live!

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Autism, medical and sensory disabilities face a myriad of challenges – accessible housing, health care for chronic medical needs, clinical supports, interpreters, full community and communication access, employment, need for day services and others.

In addition, the workforce is the #1 priority in providing supports to people. People can’t live their life without adequate staff and clinical supports for safety, community integration, employment and communication access. The field needs resources to continue what it has achieved over the past 40 years (since its inception) and to provide what is needed in the future.

The alternative is Block Grants which place a CAP on the amount of funding to the states from the Federal government. Once the funds run out, it would be up to the State to fund the rest that is needed. This is a tremendous burden on the States. It would eliminate the matching funds that each State receives. Massachusetts matches the funds at one of the highest levels in the country. There are thousands that receive services through this Medicaid Waiver in Massachusetts. If it goes away or is reduced people will lose their funding or not have access to it going forward. The State will not be able to support people currently receiving services or for those who will need services in the future. It will jeopardize people’s services and potentially force people back into institutions which we have fought to close. Community integration will be in jeopardy.

The American Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) states, “without the guarantee of matching funds, states will not be able to sustain existing services, much less expand them to meet the tremendous unmet need in the disability community.” Please contact your Congressional delegates and let them know you are in support of the Medicaid Waiver and send this message to your family & friends, especially in other states.

If you have any questions about this subject, please contact me at nshargreaves@wearewci.org.

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