October 9, 2020
VOR Weekly News Update
VOR is a national non-profit organization that advocates for
high quality care and human rights for all people with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities
VOR & You:
In Memoriam - Bill Anderson
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our good friend Bill Anderson, a VOR member from the state of Washington. Bill and Terri have been great advocates for their son Matthew and for Fircrest and all of the residents of WA's Residential Habilitation Centers. Bill and Terri were regular participants in VOR's Legislative Initiative.

We celebrate the life of Bill Anderson, and stand forever grateful for his devotion.
VOR's Fall Membership & Fundraising Campaign!

The days are growing shorter; the leaves changing color; the temperature dropping,
It's time we start gathering our acorns and storing them for the months ahead.
What we're asking is pretty simple.

Let's work together to build our strength, all the better to meet the challenges that lie before us.

Let's start by bringing in new members.
If every member brings in a new member, we could double our size in three short months.
Most of us have someone who we could reach out to. A relative, an old friend, someone we met in a Zoom meeting, Tell them about your loved one with I/DD, and what it's like to fight against the tide of people who want to shut down her ICF or close her work center. If they understand, if they empathize, they just might ask if there's a way they can support you. And there you go. Tell them about VOR, and how we give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.

You may even offer to give them a gift membership. It's not that expensive a present, and it gives them a bond to you and your family like no other gift ever can.

Another good idea is to share VOR with the family group at your loved one's ICG, group home, or work center. You can share the letter on our website (www.vor.net), or download the letter at https://www.vor.net/item/vor-letter-to-icf-family-groups.

Let's work together, to make our voice be heard!
Spotlight: Why Murray Center?
Why Murray Center?
The Murray Parents Association has been releasing a series of five videos featuring families explaining why Murray Center and Intermediate Care Facilities can offer care and benefits not available in other settings. ***** Highly Recommended!
In the first video, Peggy strong describes Marjorie's journey, and how Murray Center has changed her life and given her freedom that she had never had in group home settings.

In the second video, the Duecker family speaks about how important the Murray Center has been in supporting their son with severe autism and helping him to control his behaviors.
In the third video, Rita Hicks shares about how Murray Center has given a new life and new possibilities to her friend Renee Sharp.

State News:
A Sad Day in Virginia
'A Great Opportunity' - Plan for CVTC Property Formally Launched, Public Urged to Give Input
By Justin Falconer, The News and Advance, October 2, 2020
A redevelopment plan for the Central Virginia Training Center campus, an effort Lynchburg-area officials have talked about extensively in recent years, formally kicked off Thursday with the launch of a website and a strong push for public input.
CVTC in Madison Heights is in the process of closing as a state-run facility with more than a century’s history of serving residents with disabilities. The site’s last remaining resident was relocated in early April.

The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance announced Thursday the new website, www. trainingcentermasterplan. com, has resources available for local residents to engage in offering input on future use, including a public survey available online until Oct. 26.

“Community feedback is critical,” said Megan Lucas, executive director of the alliance, during a press conference Thursday.
The process to close CVTC and several other training centers in Virginia began eight years ago. The center, which for many years was Amherst County’s largest employer, had an estimated effect of just more than 1,630 jobs, $53.6 million in labor income and $87.1 million in overall economic activity while generating $3 million in state and local tax revenue annually, according to a 2013 study.

Lucas said the alliance, Amherst County officials and other stakeholders envision the site’s future to provide a premier location that attracts capital investment and expands the region’s urban hub.

Senator who Fought to Keep CVTC Open Now Looks to Site's Future
By Danner Evans, ABC-13 News, October 1, 2020
For a decade ABC 13 followed the closure of the Central Virginia Training Center.

In 2012 the Commonwealth announced it settled a lawsuit with the federal government to close four institutions for the disabled, which includes the Central Virginia Training Center in Amherst County.

State senator Steve Newman fought hard in Richmond to keep it open. As many families were forced to move their loved ones out, Newman said he became close to them and still talks to them today.

"For so many years I just felt that God told us to take care of people who can not take care of themselves," Newman reflected. "Those were the people who were in that facility."
Newman said he still believes the property would better serve the community as the training center.

"I believe the Department of Justice under the Obama administration made a horrible mistake," Newman said. "It was a social experiment to push people out of the place they had been living, in some cases for 40 years. In some cases they could be going into a home that is right for them and in some cases it may be very dangerous."

Arkansas - Hospitalizations Tied to Virus Hit New High in Arkansas
By Jaime Adame, Andy Davis, John Moritz, Arkansas Democrat/Gazette, October 7, 2020
The superintendent of the Jonesboro Human Development Center died of the coronavirus Tuesday as the number of people hospitalized in the state with the virus reached a new high.

Steve Farmer, who also was chairman of the Craighead County Republican Committee, died Tuesday morning at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, where he had been hospitalized for more than three weeks, an official with the state Department of Human Services said.

His death came as the state's count of virus cases rose by 641, the largest increase since Saturday.

Farmer, 67, joined the Human Services Department's Division of Developmental Disabilities Services in 2012 and had been in charge of the Arkadelphia Human Development Center before becoming superintendent of the Jonesboro center in 2017.

The state's five human development centers house Arkansans with severe developmental disabilities.
"His passing is a great loss not only for the Jonesboro HDC but for the whole state because he was such an involved and passionate public servant," Human Services Department spokesman Amy Webb said in an email.

"Our thoughts are with his family and everyone at the HDC."

Melissa Stone, director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, said officials don't know how Farmer contracted the virus. She said a number of administrative staff members at the center tested positive around the same time last month.

She said Farmer developed "some cold-like" symptoms, tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized all within the span of a few days.

"That's just the sad thing about it is in that same kind of time period, we had other people test positive, and they all had mild symptoms or no symptoms and fully recovered," she said.

"There's just no rhyme or reason to it. I guess that's what makes it so scary."
According to the Health Department, five residents and 35 staff members at the center had tested positive for the virus as of Monday.

Stone said Farmer is the first human development center staff member to die of the virus.

Oregonians with Intellectual Disabilities are at Growing Risk of Homelessness
By Rob Manning, Oregon Public Broadcasting, October 3, 2020
A study suggests a growing risk of homelessness for Oregonians with intellectual disabilities, as government support fails to keep pace with rising housing costs for a population that often needs support. The report written by ECONorthwest and commissioned by the Kuni Foundation also found that efforts to document and address these challenges have been stymied for years by a lack of current data on the disabled population.

The report estimates that “around 24,000 adults with IDD [intellectual and developmental disabilities] in the region face housing insecurity.” But the report’s authors concede that it’s impossible to find reliable numbers on the number of people in Oregon and southwest Washington who have such disabilities and their housing situations. Researchers have long relied on a 2001 study called “Prevalence of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities: Estimates From the 1994/1995 National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplements." But the data in that study is a quarter century old.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities often rely on supplemental security income, or SSI, to pay their bills, but the report found those monthly payments are not enough to cover housing and other costs in the region. The payment level in Oregon, $783 per month, falls short of the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the Portland area. Across the river in Washington, the supplemental security income level was just above average rental costs, “but would leave little remaining for other basic necessities,” the report concludes.

The report points out that rental costs are only growing further out of reach for people reliant on supplemental security income.

“Over the past two decades, average nominal monthly rents in the Portland metro area grew 83 percent, while nominal monthly SSI payments grew only 50 percent,” the report said, citing data from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Services.

Borrowing from a Colorado study’s methodology, ECONorthwest counted about 6,600 adults in Oregon and southwest Washington with intellectual or developmental disabilities who were “cost-burdened,” or spending more than 30% of their income on rent.

The number of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at risk of losing their homes based on potentially losing an aging caregiver was almost three times as high, according to the report. The ECONorthwest report suggests nearly 18,000 adults in Oregon and southwest Washington are “at risk of housing instability, given the chance of the caregiver developing an incapacitating illness or dying in the next 8-10 years.”

VOR Bill Watch:
Click on blue link to view information about the bill


H.R. 6045 & S. 3669 - Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act - To require the Office of Management and Budget to revise the Standard Occupational Classification system to establish a separate code for direct support professionals, and for other purposes.

H.R. 5443 & S. 3220 - Ensuring Access to Direct Support Professionals Act -
To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to clarify that the provision of home and community-based services is not prohibited in an acute care hospital, and for other purposes.

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).

H.R. 1379 & S. 560 - Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act - To require that group and individual health insurance coverage and group health plans provide coverage for treatment of a congenital anomaly or birth defect. (i.e. Cleft palate, ectodermal dysplasia, etc.)


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.


VOR is concerned about the following bills because they only cover HCBS proivders, and because the sponsors of the bills have consistently fought against ICFs as part of the continuum of care in I/DD services.

H,R. 6305 & S. 3544 - Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act of 2020 - Bill provides FY2020 supplemental appropriations to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for specified quality improvement and laboratory certification activities. The funds are designated as an emergency requirement, which exempts the funds from discretionary spending limits and other budget enforcement rules.
In addition, the bill (1) temporarily requires state Medicaid programs to provide Medicare cost-sharing assistance to certain individuals who qualify for, or are enrolled in, the low-income subsidy program under the Medicare prescription drug benefit; and (2) authorizes a grant program to support Medicaid home- and community-based services during the public health emergency.


During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Health Care Providers have been relying increasingly on Telehealth Services. Members of Congress have proposed a number of bills to learn more about telehealth services, with a possible eye toward expanding these services into our broader system of health care.

VOR has been following the expansion of telehealth, especially how incorporating these services into treatment of people with I/DD might change our delivery systems. Telehealth has the potential to improve care for some people with poor access to professional care, or it could be used as a less-expensive substitute for in-person treatment and quality professional care.

Current Telehealth bills in the 116th Congress include:

H.R. 6474 - Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act - To provide for the expansion of the Rural Health Care Program of the Federal Communications Commission in response to COVID–19, and for other purposes.

H.R. 7078 - To study the effects of changes to telehealth under the Medicare and Medicaid programs during the COVID-19 emergency.

S. 3999 - A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to simplify payments for telehealth services furnished by Federally qualified health centers or rural health clinics under the Medicare program, and for other purposes.

S. 3999 - A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to ensure access to mental health and behavioral health services furnished through telehealth under the Medicare program.

Our loved ones' caregivers are essential to their health, safety, and happiness.
In appreciation of their good work and kind hearts, VOR offers free digital memberships to any DSP who would like to join.

We encourage our members to speak with their loved ones' caregivers to extend this offer of our gratitude.

If you are a Direct Support Professional interested in receiving our newsletter and e-content, please write us at

with your name, email address, and the name of the facility at which you work. Please include the name of the VOR member who told you of this offer.

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?

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