December 27, 2019
VOR Weekly News Update 
VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities
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News :
Florida Dental Program Draws Concerns for People with Disabilities
By Christine Sexton, TV4 JAX News, December 20, 2019
As Florida wrestles with the future of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a top state official is warning that one program isn’t working for them.

Florida in 2018 placed people with disabilities into a dental program that is run by a handful of managed-care companies. But Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew said this week she’s “acutely concerned” that the program is not working as it should.

“Currently, Florida is not meeting the mark on access to dental care, and I am acutely concerned about appropriate access for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,”
Mayhew said in a statement. “I intend to hold plans accountable to meeting the necessary targets to ensure timely access to dental care within our Medicaid program.”

Florida established a freestanding dental managed-care program and entered five-year contracts in 2018 with three plans: DentaQuest, MCNA Dental and Liberty. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities, like all other Medicaid beneficiaries, were required to enroll in one of the plans.

The Agency for Health Care Administration prepares a monthly report tallying complaints about Florida’ overall Medicaid managed-care system. Dental care has been ranked in the top four or five categories of complaints for the past 11 months.
Mayhew said AHCA is “currently working to improve our complaint intake process at the agency. We take seriously the concerns and complaints expressed, and they are evaluated to inform any necessary changes to the system.”
Even without hard data from the state, advocates for people with disabilities say managed dental care has been less than ideal.

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council surveyed its members this year to gauge views on Medicaid services. Florida currently serves about 34,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with about 21,800 more are on a waiting list.

Valerie Breen, executive director of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, said the survey results indicated wide discontent with the new managed dental program.

“It was a little surprising,” Breen said. “It was such a pervasive comment. It seemed to be a top issue for many.”

Dental care has also been a hot topic at the last several meetings of the Family Care Council of Florida. The statewide council was established in law to serve as an advisory committee to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

New Mexico - Special Education Student's Parents Say School District Not Performing Well
By Kyle Land, Rio Grande News, December 26, 2019
Manuel Martinez pulled a pile of large textbooks out of his computer case, laying them out on his kitchen table.

All the books focused on special education law in the United States, with titles like “All About IEPs (Individual Education Programs)” and “Rights for Children with Disabilities.”

It is here, with the books at his side and his laptop open, where Martinez helps local families with special needs students get the services their children require.
“This is what I do,” he said. “When I’m looking at IEPs, I’m doing my research. I usually have all my books, because I have to remind myself.”
Martinez and his wife Amy have two sons at Española Valley High School with autism, both of whom require services according to their IEPs, the document for every special needs student that determines what services they will receive.
Manuel and Amy said they are in a continuous fight with the Española School District to make sure their children receive the proper services according to their plan. It is a fight that has been going on for over 15 years, when their oldest son started school.

“This has been going on with Española Public Schools since he was in preschool,” Manuel Martinez said.

Now, a small group of parents say their children are not receiving the services they require.
Multiple filed complaints to the state Public Education Department against the District for failure to provide career transition services, which teach student how to do laundry, cook and other household activities they could not do otherwise.
The Martinezes, who filed a complaint on behalf of their son, received a response from the Department in July, in which investigators found their son’s IEP was not being met.
“The District failed to develop and implement the Individualized Education Program for student when they failed to provide transition services for the 2018/2019 school year,” the report read.
The Department also found the District failed to provide the student with a free appropriate public education, which school officials are legally required to do.

Georgia - Developmental Disabilities Council to Host Advocacy Days at Capitol
By Pamela Miller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 24, 2019

The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) will host its fourth annual Advocacy Days starting Jan. 29 during the Georgia General Assembly legislative session, according to a press release.

Five different Advocacy Days will focus on policies affecting people with disabilities and bring together advocates from across the state to speak with elected officials about various issues. Topics will include Gracie’s Law (Organ Donation), Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, Employment, School to Prison Pipeline and Transportation:

Jan. 29: Gracie’s Law (Organ Transplant Discrimination) – Advocate for Passage of Gracie’s Law to Safeguard against Organ Transplant Discrimination for Children and Adults with Disabilities.

Feb. 6: Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) – Advocate for Inclusive College Opportunities for Students with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities.

Feb. 11: Employment* – Advocate for Policies that Improve Competitive, Integrated Employment Options for Georgians with Developmental Disabilities.

Feb. 27: School-to-Prison Pipeline (SToPP)* – Advocate to keep African American Males in Special Education classes from being Pushed out of School and into the Criminal Justice System.

March 11: Transportation* – Advocate for Reliable Transportation Options to Ensure People with Developmental Disabilities are Included in their Communities.

*These topics are subject to change.

Each even will take place 8 a.m. to noon at Central Presbyterian Church (across the Georgia State Capitol), 201 Washington St SW.

VOR's Fall-Winter Membership & Fundraising Campaign

VOR relies on donations from families like yours
to help us to give a voice to families like yours.

It's just that simple.

What's Happening In Your Community?

Is there an issue in your loved one's home that you need help with?
Do you have information or a news story you would like to share?
Is there legislation in your state house that needs attention?

Contact us at [email protected]
VOR Bill Watch:
Click on blue link to view information about the bill


H.R. 555 & S. 117 - The Disability Integration Act - This bill has written into it the goal of eliminating "institutional care". In addition to the inherent bias against ICF's and people with severe and profound I/DD, the bill is prohibitively costly and there are not enough Direct Support Professionals to meet the provisions of this act.

H.R. 582 & S. 150 - The Raise the Wage Act - This bill is aimed at raising the minimum wage, but it also has provisions to eliminate 14 (c) wage certificates over the next six years and to immediately stop the issuing of any new certificates. VOR believes the issue of employment options for individuals with intellectual disabilities should not be buried in a bill for raising the federal minimum wage. Both issues deserve clean, stand-alone bills.

H.R. 873 & S. 260 - The Transformation To Competitive Employment Act - This bill has declared the goal of eliminating Sheltered Workshops and 14(c) Wage Certificates, under the mantle of everyone with a disability is capable of competitive integrated employment.
Sponsors of the bill recently added a new summary that significantly downplays the effect the bill would have on eliminating work centers and 14(c) that benefit those who are unable to compete in the employment opportunities the bill promotes.


H.R. 2417 - The HEADs UP Act - To amend the Public Health Service Act to expand and improve health care services by health centers and the National Health Service Corps for individuals with a developmental disability as a Medically Underserved Population (MUP).

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