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Meet Martha

We’d like you to meet Martha. Why? Because we just can’t get enough of her infectious smile and positive personality. Martha has an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), but thanks to the support she receives from her family and programs such as Medicaid and Social Security, her disability has never held her back. She enjoys baseball and bowling and lives independently in an apartment in Indiana with her friends. She thinks everyone with IDD should have a chance to do the same.

“People should be able to live like I do,” Martha states confidently…with a smile.

Maybe you know someone like Martha….or like Nancy Webster, her concerned sister? Nancy was recently elected president of the board of directors of The Arc, the nation’s largest community-based organization advocating for people with IDD. But long before Nancy was a part of our movement, she was Martha’s sister.

Nancy recently told us: “Like many sisters, I worry that if Martha’s Medicaid lifeline is cut, her only option would be to live in an institution or somewhere else she doesn’t want to be, in order to receive the services she needs such as income support, help with her health care needs and the basic assistance she requires on a daily basis.”

The Arc has accomplished a lot during the past year in helping to protect the Medicaid lifeline that Martha depends on, but there is much more to do in 2013. Your support ensures that The Arc can continue to connect families to our national chapter network, influence public policy and improve systems of support and services to people with IDD on a daily basis.

In the remaining few weeks of 2012, we have a modest goal: to raise 2013 for 2013. How the numbers add up is up to you. If you can spare $20.13, great! If you can donate $2,013, wow! Even if you can’t spare a dime but would like to stay connected on Facebook, you can help us get to 2,013 new fans by liking and sharing our page with your friends and family. Every little bit helps, not just for Martha but the more than 8 million Americans with IDD and their families. Remember what Martha says, that everyone “should be able to live like I do!”

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Deficit Reduction: What Disability Advocates Need to Know

The Arc succeeded in helping to protect Medicaid in last year’s deficit reduction law, the Budget Control Act. Now there is mounting pressure to find an alternative to cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act or to find additional cuts in the federal budget to reduce the deficit further. We must renew our efforts to protect the four major programs that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) – Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), in addition to the many discretionary programs that people with disabilities rely on to be a part of their community.

Disability advocates must remain engaged throughout the coming months to minimize cuts to these programs and protect eligibility and services that are vital to the lives of people with disabilities. Advocates must urge Congress to provide sufficient revenues to fund critical services and supports needed by individuals with IDD to live and work in the community.

The bottom line is that our work is far from over, and Medicaid continues to be at risk. This analysis aims to educate advocates about the current fiscal situation and its potential impact on people with IDD.

This analysis was previously shared with those are signed up for our Action List. Want to get involved with The Arc’s legislative advocacy? Sign up here.

If you require a Word version of this document, please contact Kristen McKiernan at

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The Arc at the Table With President Obama to Discuss Tax Cuts for the Middle Class, Budget, and Medicaid

Washington, DC– Today, The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns participated in a small meeting with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior economic advisors about the President’s goal to stop middle class tax increases and to raise revenues to help invest in the nation and reduce the deficit. The discussion centered on the urgency of passing a plan to avert raising taxes on the middle class and to raise revenues to finance the federal government without allowing drastic cuts to programs that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and other vulnerable groups rely on, like education, housing and employment. These cuts are scheduled to take place on January 1, 2013, along with the expiration of a variety of tax provisions. Without a deal this year, The Arc is very concerned about the future of Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, along with Social Security and Medicare.

“I think everyone agrees that raising taxes on the middle class will hurt families, and that it would be particularly troubling to those that have a loved one with IDD. These families report that they already don’t have the money they need for the care and support their loved ones need to live a decent life in the community. What will they do if they suddenly have a bigger tax bill come January 1st?” Berns said.

“We welcome the President’s framework for generating revenue and protecting low income families,” Berns added. “Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income, which are lifeline programs for people with disabilities, should not be at risk in these budget negotiations. This approach from President Obama would help keep our nation’s commitment to people with disabilities.”

The Arc has been on the front lines of the recent budget battles to protect Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare from cuts. As the nation faces this January 1 deadline, known as the “fiscal cliff”, The Arc is urging Congress to restore the scheduled cuts in non-defense discretionary programs and find other ways – specifically through increasing revenues as included in President Obama’s plan – to move the nation forward. This effort is critical to protecting the people that rely on Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare from losing these critical services and supports.

“We can’t afford to not protect Medicaid. Medicaid is the lifeline keeping people with disabilities from unfathomable alternatives – like being institutionalized and losing their independence – and preserving all that we have worked for as a nation over the last 60 years to bring people with disabilities out of the shadows and into society,” said Berns.

Berns was joined at the White House by Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK, Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign, Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Deepa Iyer, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Ben Jealous, NAACP, Marc Morial, National Urban League, Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza, Barry Rand, AARP, Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner,, Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network, Aaron Smith, Young Invincibles, and Rev. Jim Wallis, Sojourners.

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Get the Facts on Diabetes and People With IDD

November is National Diabetes Month. The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Clearly, this is a major public health issue. You may be wondering – how many people with IDD have diabetes? The answer is we aren’t sure, but we do know that diabetes is a common secondary condition affecting people with IDD. One study found that adults with cognitive limitations had a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes than did adults with no disability (19.4% vs. 3.8%, respectively). Major risk factors for diabetes include being overweight and lack of physical activity—factors we know disproportionality impact people with IDD.

Diabetes, like many other chronic health conditions, can be treated or prevented with appropriate health education and interventions but people with IDD often don’t have access to these services. This is a problem that HealthMeet™ is aiming to solve!

The main goal of The Arc’s HealthMeet™ project is to conduct health assessments, provide linkages and referrals to services and customized health navigation, and spread health education to people with ID.

The Arc of New Jersey, a HealthMeet™ pilot site, has produced a publication, “Prevent, Understand, and Live with Diabetes: A Guide for People with Developmental Disabilities” as part of their Diabetes Awareness and Education Project. This guide, which is available in English and Spanish, educates individuals with IDD and their caregivers about important steps to take to help prevent and control diabetes, including diet changes, improved exercise habits, and regular monitoring by a health care professional.

Through HealthMeet™, we will continue to share resources like this guide on our website to help people with IDD and their support system learn more about the serious, yet potentially preventable, health issues that affect them. In doing so, we will reduce health disparities, increase longevity and improve the quality of life for people with IDD.

Please join us for a HealthMeet Webinar: Prevent, Understand, and Live with Diabetes on Monday, December 5, from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will be led by Nurse Practitioner, Leone Murphy, from The Arc of New Jersey, who will present information on The Arc of New Jersey’s diabetes project.

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Get Healthy With HealthMeet™

HealthMeet™, a project of The Arc funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, works to reduce health disparities and increase the longevity and quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities. To accomplish this, we are planning free community-based health screenings and referrals for people with intellectual disabilities along with training and education for individuals, families, professionals, medical providers and other caregivers to raise public awareness of the health issues that impact people with ID across the country.

Check out our website for information about the program, resources, and news about possible Healthmeet™ activities in your community. In the meantime, we invite you to join us for an online educational series tackling specific topics related to health promotion among people with intellectual disabilities. There will be a variety of Webinars over the coming months, beginning with the sessions below. Bookmark our page and check back often for new sessions as they are developed.

Weight Loss for Individuals with Disabilities
Monday, November 19,  2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

Expert guest speakers Richard and Muriel Saunders from the University of Kansas discuss effective weight loss plans in overweight adults with disabilities. This webinar will go into detail about methods, results and lessons learned in creating an effective weight loss program. These research-based programs have been proven to have great success in helping people with disabilities to keep the weight off and decrease obesity-prone health disparities. We will discuss barriers to eating healthy and strategies to increase consciousness of making healthier long-term eating decisions and how to track that progress. Join us to hear more about this important topic.

UIC HealthMatters™ Curricula
Tuesday, November 27, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET

The HealthMatters™ Program from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) offers various health-related trainings and curricula to help self-advocates, caregivers, families, and health care providers promote health, prevent disease, and foster community engagement of people with disabilities. Different programs are tailored for various audiences including people with disabilities, caregivers, families, and health care providers. We welcome Beth Marks, RN, PhD and Jasmina Sisirak, PhD, MPH from the Department of Disability and Human Development at UIC to share information regarding the various trainings that are associated with HealthMatters™ Program. One of the trainings will be utilized by The Arc’s five HealthMeet™ pilot sites to develop and implement a health promotion program in their communities. Please join us to find out more about these exciting trainings and programs and how they can be helpful in your community.

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The Arc in Hurricane Sandy’s Path

In the last few days, all eyes have turned to Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of large portions of the U.S. East Coast. In the wake of the storm, affected areas will now begin to reassess, recover and rebuild.

We are reaching out to chapters in the 13 states most affected by the storm to find out how they and the people they serve fared. If you are with an affected chapter and need help, please contact Dee Dee Eberle, Director of Chapter Organizing and Advocacy, at or 202-534-3726. Or you can reach out via our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, and The Arc’s blog. Please use the hashtag #TheArcRelief for any storm-recovery related posts.

Those of us lucky enough to have escaped unharmed may be looking for ways to help chapters recover and rebuild to ensure that they can continue to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities especially in this time of need. We have activated The Arc’s Disaster Relief Fund, which allows us to take in donations from across the country, and quickly distribute them to chapters that need emergency resources to carry out their mission in the aftermath. If you would like to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families recover and rebuild chapter programs and offices, consider contributing to The Arc’s Disaster Relief Fund: Donate online now or simply send a check to The Arc’s national office at 1825 K Street NW, Suite 1200 Washington, D.C., addressed to The Arc Disaster Relief Fund. If you can’t make a monetary donation, we encourage you to monitor our social media channels to see if someone in your area posts a need which you might be able to fill directly. If you have non-cash resources that might be able to help a specific person or chapter, you can offer those to that individual or organization through our social media channels using the hashtag #TheArcRelief and be sure to post your location and how someone might respond to you. Keep in mind, The Arc CANNOT accept or distribute any non-cash donations.

As we learn more, we will keep you updated via our social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, The Arc’s main blog, and our new chapter blog,, which chapters across our network can use to keep current with each other.