February 8, 2019
U.S. Capitol, Washington D.C. January 30, 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


This week, we want to bring closer attention to the threats posed to Sheltered Workshops. The workshops are places where people with disabilities have had the opportunity for employment at wages below the state or federal minimum, under a specialized wage certificate issued under Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

There is a movement to "liberate" people with disabilities from this environment, and move them into what proponents call "competitive integrated employment" - opportunities to work in an environment with non-disabled individuals at a full wage.

VOR supports programs that would provide this type of employment opportunity for those who would choose to participate, and who are capable of participating. But we oppose anything that would take away the opportunity to work for a specialized wage for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are not capable of competing with non-disabled individuals, or who would choose not to work in an environment where they are "different" from the other workers and measured by their disability. for many individuals with IDD, loss of a job in a sheltered workshop would not result in an opportunity for competitive integrated employment. It would place them into a less fulfilling, less rewarding day program that doesn't match their abilities and places them in an environment where they are surrounded by more severely intellectually disabled individuals.

VOR supports the right to choice of a full range of opportunities. We don't believe that any program designed to achieve the goals of some individuals with intellectual disabilities should take away the opportunities enjoyed by another group of individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Notice: Meetings of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)

The Administration for Community Living announced earlier this week that there will be two meetings in March to prepare their 2019 report to the President. Currently, the report is a self-congratulatory piece on their work to move all individuals with IDD to full integrated employment, close sheltered workshops, eliminate 14 (c) wage certificates.

In their discussions, one member of the committee have raised the matter that some individuals will never be able to participate in competitive integrated employment and that the opportunities for work that these individuals currently enjoy will be taken away from them, resulting in their spending hours every day on the sofa watching television or being driven in a van to the mall. Nonetheless, the committee plans to move ahead with the elimination of these programs.

What has happened to our system, that the people charged with protecting and providing services for the IDD community have turned their backs on the most severely disabled members of that community?

The PCPID meetings are open to the public, though the public is not allowed to comment. The schedule for these meetings is:

Monday, March 4 - 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (EST) . This is a virtual meeting, via telephone. Members of the PCPID may speak, the public may listen in. To attend the meeting, dial (888) 949–2790 and use pass code 1989852.

Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST) (same time both days)
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 800, Washington, DC 20201 . The public is invited to attend, but not comment, or to listen in remotely, at (888) 949–2790 using the pass code 1989852.

VOR Bill Watch

There are currently seven bills in Congress (four in the House of Representatives with three companion bills in the Senate) that would discriminate against the more disabled members of the IDD community. We are following them closely, and over the next few weeks/months may ask our members to sign on to Action Alerts to share our objections with our elected officials. (Click on each bill to view details)

H.R. 260 This bill has provisions to extend the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Program , which has been used as a tool to remove people from ICFs with the intention of shuttering the facilities.

H.R. 555 & S. 117 - The Disability Integration Act - This bill has written into it the goal of eliminating "institutional care".

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.

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.
Sheltered Workshops:
Lawmakers Call For End To Subminimum Wage
By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, February 5, 2019
There is a new effort underway in Congress to do away with rules that allow employers to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage.
A bill recently introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives would put an end to what’s known as subminimum wage.

Under a law dating back to the 1930s, employers can obtain 14(c) certificates from the Department of Labor allowing them to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum, currently $7.25 per hour. Workers who are paid at a lower rate are supposed to be compensated based upon their productivity level compared to that of someone without a disability.

There has been a push in recent years to outlaw subminimum wage, with critics saying that the system is exploitative and leaves some people with disabilities earning just pennies per hour. On the flip side, however, there are families and advocates who say that the wage system still plays an important role, particularly for those with severe disabilities who benefit from having a sense of purpose in an environment where they are surrounded by peers.
The new bill called the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, or S. 260, would require the Labor Department to stop issuing 14(c) certificates. Existing certificates would be phased out over a six-year period. In addition, the measure would make available grants and establish a technical assistance center to help businesses that currently pay subminimum wage transition toward a business model employing people with disabilities in a competitive, integrated fashion.

“Although we have made progress, there are still far too many people who aren’t able to fully realize the American dream because of outdated laws and social stigmas,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who introduced the measure along with Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.

State News:
Arizona - Update on Abuse and Neglect at Hacienda Healthcare
In recent weeks, we have covered the news reports on Hacienda HealthCare, an Arizona facility where an intellectually disabled woman in a near-coma was raped and gave birth. The arrival of the baby came as a complete surprise to the woman's caregivers.

Below are links to two articles covering the response by the Governor and the Legislature in trying to improve the state's laws and systems of oversight.

Virginia - Effort to Revive CVTC Survival Bill Dies in Senate Committee
By Justin Falconer, Amherst New Era-Progress,
Feb 6, 2019
An attempt to revive proposed legislation to prevent the planned closure of Central Virginia Training Center was defeated last week.

A separate bill to change the definition of a training center in hopes of preventing further transfers of CVTC residents to a Petersburg facility against their will passed the Senate on a 39-1 vote Feb. 1.

Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, had introduced Senate Bill 1071 aimed at keeping CVTC, which serves residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, operating in some capacity as it planned to close by June 2020 in accordance with a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Madison Heights center has just more than 60 residents still there, according to Peake. On Jan. 30, the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to reject the bill, though Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, a co-sponsor of the bill and an advocate for keeping CVTC open, was not in the room when the vote was taken.
On Jan. 31 during the following Senate Finance Committee meeting, Newman motioned to have the bill reconsidered, but it was quickly defeated 13-3 with Newman among the three in favor of reconsideration.

Newman said prior to last Wednesday’s vote he was not optimistic of the bill passing and said he feels CVTC’s best chance for survival is a partnership to keep it operating in some capacity. As an example, he referenced a current proposal by Horizon Behavioral Health, a Lynchburg-based organization, to lease a handful of buildings currently receiving the most use at the center.

“We need to continue the fight,” Newman of keeping CVTC open. “God told us to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves. These are those people.”

Oregon - Bill headed to State Legislature could leave Developmentally Disabled Oregonians Without Services
By Simon Gutierrez, Fox 12 News, Feb. 7, 2019
A bill making its way through the Oregon State Legislature could potentially leave hundreds of developmentally disabled Oregonians without services, according to advocacy groups.

Senate Bill 19, introduced earlier this month looks innocuous on its surface, calling for licensing of all adult foster homes and stepping up mandatory reporting requirements, but language tucked away on page 12 of the bill proposes changing the state's definition of an intellectual disability.

Currently, people with an IQ below 75 are considered by the state to be intellectually disabled.

The bill proposes changing that standard to an IQ below 70, meaning people with IQs between 71 and 75 could no longer qualify for state benefits.

"Our proposal was really to give us some more flexibility around more detailed aspects of what is in statute," Lilia Teninty, Director of the Office of Developmental Disability Services said while testifying in support of the bill to the Senate Committee on Human Services.
For people like Ryan Ross, though, the bill in its current form could drastically alter their lives.

"It would impact me in that I would not have any services, and, worst case scenario, without those, I'd be living with my parents or out on the street," Ross said.

Cheryl Cisneros, Executive Director of Creating Opportunities, an organization that works with and advocates for people with developmental disabilities, estimates hundreds of people could be affected by the passage of SB 19 in its current form.

"People who have autism. People who have Downs Syndrome. People who have any sort of developmental disability, intellectual disability would be impacted. So it would have a wide sweeping impact," Cisneros said.

California - Opinion: Developmental Disabilities Deserve Funding
By Assemblymember Marie Waldron, Valley News, February 8, 2019
California has been transitioning from residential to community-based care for people with developmental disabilities, with the state expecting to see substantial cost savings. While Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal diverts that money to pay for other state programs, myself and other legislators want to provide a secure source of funding for some of the most vulnerable people in the state. We are calling on the governor to support Californians with developmental disabilities and their caregivers by permanently dedicating savings from the closure of developmental centers to increase pay for service providers.

Newsom’s first budget proposal would provide caregivers for Californians with developmental disabilities a minimal funding increase, while counting $21.6 million in “savings” from the closure of developmental centers. With a statewide surplus of more than $21 billion, there is something seriously wrong with the state’s priorities if we can’t find room in the budget to care for this vulnerable population.
Locally based agencies caring for the developmentally disabled operate throughout the state. But due to the state’s low level of funding, these agencies are often forced to operate on a shoestring budget, which is seriously impacting their ability to continue providing care for California’s developmentally disabled population.

The state’s developmental centers have been serving the needs of the developmentally disabled for well over 100 years. With this long history, I have joined my colleagues to support directing savings generated by the centers’ closure toward programs that continue to care for these vulnerable Californians.

Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.

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]
The American Health Care Association / National Council for Assisted Living

AHCA/NCAL’s Annual Hill Fly-In Event
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

AHCA/NCAL’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) Residential Services Providers will be in Washington, D.C., for our annual Hill Fly-In event on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Participants will hear from Congressional speakers and others. The event runs from 8 am – 10:15 am ET. After the morning event is over, the ID/DD providers will head to Capitol Hill to discuss critical issues, including Medicaid.

If you have any questions relating to this event or would like to attend (it is free to attend for anyone interested, and breakfast and lunch are provided), please don’t hesitate to contact AHCA’s Senior Director of Not for Profit & Constituent Services,  Dana Halvorson .  

VOR's 2019

June 8 - 12, 2019
Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C.

Plan now!
This will be an important year for I/DD advocacy
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