September 17, 2021
The Arc New York Testifies at Senate Hearing on Workforce Crisis Impact
On Tuesday the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities held a public hearing to discuss the impact of the workforce crisis on New Yorkers with I/DD. The Arc New York submitted written testimony and our Regulatory Reform Proposal into the public record. In addition, The Arc New York CEO Erik Geizer gave oral testimony along with numerous self-advocates, parents, and providers of I/DD supports and services.

Over a period of four hours it was made clear by witnesses that the impact of the workforce crisis goes beyond labor shortages and historic under-investment, it affects the daily quality of life for thousands of people with I/DD. Their perspectives and willingness to tell their story made a profound impact on the committee, leading the chair of the committee, Senator Mannion, to state that he would propose an ongoing investment of $500 million in the upcoming budget. A full recording of the hearing can be found here. The Arc New York testimony begins at the 4 hour mark.

You can also view Senator Mannion’s interview on Capital Tonight with Susan Arbetter to discuss his proposal here, coverage of the pre-hearing rally here, and read the Times Union story on the hearing here.

Times Union Exposes Failures for Critical Placements
Earlier this week, the Times Union published a story highlighting the lack of appropriate residential options and due process for people with I/DD who are transitioning post-graduation. The report follows a letter sent by members of the NYS Senate and Assembly drawing attention to the potential violation by OPWDD of Chapter 478 of the Laws of 2014, which provides fundamental due process protections to the parents or guardians of a developmentally disabled adult in transitional care after they turn 21 years old. The Times Union editorial board later offered their perspective in an editorial calling the practice and tactics, “Heartless. Unconscionable. Reprehensible. Inhumane." 

The Arc New York agrees with the need for reform of the placement process, and believes the voluntary sector is an important part of the solution in identifying appropriate community placements in New York for individuals who are aging out of out-of-state educational placements. There are quality, integrated, community programs in New York state. We need immediate relief and sustainable funding to address our workforce crisis and ensure adequate residential opportunities remain available. 

Recording and Slides of Federal Update from The Arc US
This week, The Arc US Policy and advocacy staff presented an informative webinar, "Congressional Recess is Over, What Now?", which focused on the status of advocacy efforts as Congress returns from recess and continues the process of budget reconciliation. This half-hour information session offered many critical updates for advocates. Last week we stated that the language of the bill going through includes a 7% FMAP increase, a 2% increase for self-direction, permanent extension of Money Follows the Person, and the requirement of core quality measures. The bill will now go through the Rules and Budget committees. To learn more, you can watch the recording of the webinar and view the the slide deck here. The push for HCBS funding is not over and it is more important than ever to write and call our legislators. You can voice your support through our one-click advocacy campaign, and find additional resources in The Arc New York Workforce Advocacy Toolkit

Federal SSI Hearing Next Week and Opportunity to Submit Testimony
Congress is currently working on major legislation to address long standing gaps in our social programs. While the House Ways and Means Committee did not include improvements to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in their draft legislation, members of the Senate Finance Committee have been advocating loudly for SSI improvements to be included. The Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy is holding a hearing on SSI next Tuesday, Sept 21, at 2:45 PM on needed policy updates to SSI. This is an opportunity to highlight the need to include improvements to SSI in the reconciliation package.

Potential improvements that are under consideration include increasing asset limits, eliminating marriage penalties, repealing rules that cut benefits if friends and family help out with rent and groceries, increasing the amount of money beneficiaries can earn before their benefits are reduced, and increasing benefits. You can submit testimony to the Senate Finance Committee about how important these changes would be using these templates for organizations and individuals. Additional information on the hearing and instructions on how to submit a statement can be found official hearing website.

1st Quarter Financial Plan Update Shows Revenue $2.1B above Projections
The FY 22 1st Quarter Financial Plan was released on Wednesday and showed a surprising revenue windfall of $2.1 billion above projections. This is an encouraging indication of the strength of the state’s economy. This year, at the Governor's direction, $1.1 billion of this additional revenue will be placed in reserves, and $650 million is designated to reduce borrowing for capital projects.

Given the additional revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars of federal aid coming into the state, we are confident that our fight for a cost of living assessment (COLA) and additional funding to ensure the sustainability of the I/DD sector will be hard-found, but achievable.

Next Round of Revisions to Existing Arc US Position Statements
The Arc US Policy and Positions Committee, with members from both The Arc and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), is working to revise three of their current position statements and develop one new joint statement. AAIDD adopted a new statement in December 2020 on Anti-Racism, which will be the starting point for the new joint position statement. The four statements can be found below:

While the Committee is working on the statements, they would like to hear from you about what ideas or concepts you believe should be kept in the statements and what should be changed. Your comments will be considered in developing drafts for the Boards of Directors of The Arc and AAIDD. Later in the year, close-to-final revised statements will be available for comment, before the two Boards of Directors vote on them.

Please click here to make your comments and please respond by Friday, October 8. If you have any questions, contact Mike Nagel at [email protected].
This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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