The Messenger
Dec 13, 2022
"I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending. "
~Fred Rogers


One photographer explores what employment means to those in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities community.

"For the people in this population who get to experience employment, it's a chance to prove to themselves and to others that they can contribute value. For so much of their lives, it's apparent to them that they're different. Many of the people they encounter don't have high expectations for their abilities. But employment flips that on its head. Not only does the company benefit from the person's work, but the neurotypical coworkers have their conceptions challenged and, if the employee with IDD works in a front-facing role, the customers do, too. Best of all, the person with IDD realizes how much more capable they are than they previously thought."

What can you do?
***Help our teachers find job placements and community experiences for
our area high school students are they begin their transition
out of the school system and into the workforce.***

Our high school teachers begin transition experiences starting a student's freshman year of high school and they continue through when the student leave's high school either at graduation or age 21.
If you own, work at, or know of a business that could provide vocational opportunities for our students with IDD please help make those connections. Tasks can vary from cleaning and shredding to helping with mailings and organizing. Students are supported by staff from their school buildings while at their job site.
Our students and teachers need your help and support. If you have questions or need assistance bringing people together, contact Anne at arc.amstevens@gmail.com or 608-833-1199 and we can connect you with the appropriate school district staff.
Above: Arc-Dane County Friend and Self-Advocate Petra Zwetler is a long time employee of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison for the US Forest Service. Photo credit: Hillary Schave with BRAVA Magazine

Below: Arc-Dane County Friend and Self-Advocate Josh Wing started working at Dahman's while in high school and is now employed there as an adult
Year End Giving and Becoming a Friend of The Arc-Dane County
Your Year-End Gift Will Make a Difference for Someone, We Promise

Along with you, The Arc-Dane County is committed to the acceptance, respect, and inclusion of our family members and all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The last three years have proven our resilience and brought us constant change. Because of you and with you, we continue to support, celebrate, and advocate alongside people throughout Dane County with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Together, we are all advocates and friends.

Your support is helping to improve the quality of life for thousands of people with IDD in our community by creating inclusive activities, reducing isolation, sharing educational opportunities, and advocating for so many people we love. We are grateful to have friends in this work.
Share Your 2023 Community Awards Nominations
Show your thanks and gratitude for those in and around Dane County for their hard work and efforts to improve the lives of those with IDD and their families and friends by nominating them for a 2023 Arc-Dane County Community Award. Join us as we celebrate area individuals, groups, and organizations on May 31st at Quivey's Grove.
Budget listening sessions with Gov. Evers

Gov. Evers has hosted listening sessions for two consecutive biennia to provide an opportunity for folks to share their ideas, discuss and give feedback on the state’s biennial budget, hear about pressing issues affecting Wisconsinites and their families, and how the state can best support our local communities. Unlike typical listening sessions, the governor’s listening sessions involve facilitated, smaller group discussions that allow participating Wisconsinites to engage in conversation and dialogue with other Wisconsinites who share or have different perspectives on an issue as Gov. Evers, members of the Evers Administration and the governor's cabinet, and other state and local elected leaders have the opportunity to learn and listen.

Virtual Budget Listening Session​​​ Wednesday, December 14, 2022 @ 6:00 pm
This statewide virtual listening session will provide the governor and his Administration with an opportunity to hear directly from Wisconsinites to inform them on the priorities you would like to see in the 2023-2025 biennial budget.

Great work by the students at the UW Madison School of Journalism who chose to tell the story of those in with disabilities and the advocacy efforts in our community in their latest issue of Curb Magazine.
Humana and Molina Acquisition Proposals
In 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) was informed of a potential purchase of two managed care organizations that currently provide Medicaid long-term care services. That means the new companies will purchase the assets of the current Medicaid managed care organizations and then be responsible for providing Family Care services and other HMO services for members enrolled in their respective plans.

Molina Health Care, Inc., plans to purchase My Choice Wisconsin. Humana, Inc., plans to purchase Inclusa.

DHS wants your feedback about these acquisition proposals. 
Please register for an online public forum:
There will be a sign language interpreter at the online forums. If you have any additional accessibility needs, please contact DHSDMSCommunications@dhs.wisconsin.gov by Monday, December 12.

Can’t attend a forum?
 
Mail your feedback to:
Acquisitions
DHS/DMS/BPP
PO Box 309
1 West Wilson, Room 518
Madison, WI 53701-0309

DHS, OCI Urge Wisconsinites to Sign up for Health Care Coverage by December 15 
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) today remind Wisconsinites they have one week left to enroll in a health plan available on the federal marketplace to receive coverage that begins the first of the year (January 1, 2023).

While December 15 is the deadline for consumers to sign up for coverage with a January 1 start date, the Healthcare.gov open enrollment period runs until January 15. Get more information about how to find affordable health insurance during open enrollment on the DHS website.
ABLE Age Adjustment Act
The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S. 331 / H.R. 1219) was introduced by Senator Casey (D-PA) in the Senate and Representative Cárdenas (D-CA) and Representative McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) in the House of Representatives. This bill will increase the age eligibility for ABLE accounts from 26 to 46.
On June 22nd, the Senate Finance Committee marked-up the Enhancing American Retirement Now Act (EARN Act), which is a part of the larger retirement reform bill (SECURE 2.0). The ABLE Age Adjustment Act was included in the EARN Act as part of the mark-up. ABLE accounts are tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities to save money, while not disqualifying them from federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. AUCD recently signed on to this letter from the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination. AUCD and other partners are working to have the ABLE Age Adjustment Act included in an end of year omnibus package.

Plain Language
The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would increase the age to from 26 to 46 to open an ABLE savings account. ABLE accounts allow people to save money without risking losing federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid.

What It Means For You
If you acquired a disability between the ages of 26 and 46, the ABLE Age Adjustment Act will make you eligible for an ABLE savings account. This will allow you to save money without risking losing access to federal benefits.

Action Steps
Learn more about ABLE accounts at the ABLE National Resource Center. Call your Members of Congress and educate them about the importance of ABLE accounts for those ages 26-46. You can reach your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Budget and Appropriations  
The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations (LHHS) bill funds almost all disability programs. A continuing resolution (CR) was passed on September 29th, which extends funding for the federal government through December 16th. Congress is now working to try to come to agreement to complete the process before the end of the year.


Plain Language 
The Fiscal Year runs from October 1st – September 30th each year. The Senate Democrats have released their funding (budget) bills for Fiscal Year 2023. The House of Representatives has passed its bill through Committee. The House of Representatives and Senate did not finish the budget work by the deadline of October 1st, so an extension has been given until December 16th. The House and Senate are working to finish the process before the end of the year.

Action Steps 
Call your Members of Congress and educate them on the importance of quickly finalizing the LHHS bills to fund federal programs. You can reach your members by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. 

Right now, Congress is negotiating its “end-of-year package,” a bill that includes money to fund the government and that has the power to uplift the health, inclusion, and civil rights of people with disabilities.

All year long, advocates from The Arc have been fighting for critical programs and life-sustaining priorities for people with disabilities. In this end-of-the-year package, we are fighting to:
  • Increase asset limits for people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) so people can save for emergencies instead of being forced to live in poverty. The asset limit has not been updated since 1989!
  • Make the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program permanent to assist people with disabilities and seniors to move back home after time in a nursing home or congregate setting. This program has already helped over 100,000 people move back home, but it needs to be made permanent.

Bill Introduced To Protect Family Caregivers From Discrimination
On December 1, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Protecting Family Caregivers from Discrimination Act (S.5136) , legislation that would expand protections for family caregivers from discrimination by their employers. Currently, many caregivers are ineligible for any form of protection under federal law and continue to face discrimination in the workplace due to their family caregiving responsibilities. The legislation would prohibit employers from firing or taking other adverse employment action against workers who are caregivers for their loved ones. The Arc has endorsed this bill. You can read more about the bill here.
COVID-19 Information--Stay safe. Stay Informed.
“The COVID-19 vaccines and boosters remain one of the best ways to protect yourself from severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “As we see rising cases due to the spread of increasingly infectious variants, it is important that we continue to use all the tools we have available to prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed – that includes getting vaccinated if you have not already done so and staying up to date by getting any recommended additional or booster doses.” 
Follow us on social media for updates and information!
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