Anthony Nash Says #HandsOff During August Recess!

#HandsOff is a series on The Arc Blog where individuals and families across The Arc’s network share their stories about how some of today’s key policy issues impact their day to day lives.

Anthony Nash stands in front of the Capitol building in Washington DC wearing a long sleeve burgundy shirt and slacks. During August Recess, Members of Congress return to their home states to meet with their constituents. It’s the perfect time for advocates to meet with legislators and tell them #HandsOff important programs – like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and much more.

Nobody says #HandsOff during August Recess better than Anthony Nash! Anthony is an active self-advocate in his home state of Washington. He is a member of The Arc’s National Council of Self-Advocates and The Arc of Washington’s Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) coalition. Anthony also serves on the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council and the board of Disability Rights Washington.

Anthony has fought for issues important to people with disabilities for several years. Here’s what he had to say about advocacy during August Recess:

How did you get involved in advocacy?

I used to work in a sheltered workshop. I got pushed around a lot and even called the r-word there. So one day, I went to the library and asked the librarian for books on disability rights. I read about how people with disabilities have [the same] equal rights as any other person. After that, I joined some advocacy groups and started to stand up for myself.

What does being a self-advocate mean to you?

Self-advocacy means quite a bit to me. A lot of people look down on people with disabilities and think we can’t amount to anything. I do everything I can to prove them wrong. Being a self-advocate lets me show others that we are equal, that we deserve respect, and that we should not be discriminated against in any manner.

Why do you think it is important for people with disabilities to advocate for programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) during August Recess?

These programs are our lifeline! Most of our leaders don’t understand that these programs cover significant needs. Since I was four years old, SSI has helped to pay for my food, clothes, transportation, and other living expenses. I use Medicaid to pay for the medicine and doctor visits I need. Self-advocates need to speak up during August Recess when legislators are back home so they know why these programs are important to us.

 

Ready to join Anthony in saying #HandsOff during August Recess? Take a few minutes to call YOUR Members of Congress and tell them why Medicaid and SSI are important to you. Then encourage your family and friends to call, too!

The Arc Opposes Appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court

Today, The Arc came out in opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court. This opposition is based on Judge Kavanaugh’s record on cases relating to disability and civil rights.

Of particular concern are his decisions on cases involving self-determination of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), education, employment, and his stances on the Affordable Care Act and school choice.

“We did not take lightly the decision to oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the US Supreme Court, but after a thorough analysis of his record, we cannot idly sit by knowing that he has demonstrated a disregard for the impact of his judicial philosophy on the lives of people with disabilities and their families time and time again. Judge Kavanaugh has written several troubling opinions and dissents on cases related to disability rights and The Arc’s constituents, including those pertaining to education, affordable health care, and self-determination.

“Particularly concerning is his opinion in Doe. V. Tarlow, a case where women with intellectual disability who resided in the District of Columbia’s Forest Haven institution brought a class action lawsuit against the District for violating their due process rights. The District, through its developmental disabilities agency, consented to subject them to non-emergency surgical procedures, including abortions and eye surgeries, without even talking to them and their family members. Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling is disturbing in his apparent lack of appreciation for the humanity of individuals with intellectual disability, their basic human rights, and their ability and right to participate in important life decisions even when found legally unable to make decisions by themselves.

“The Arc urges Senators to not confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to our highest court. The Senate should not confirm a Justice to the Supreme Court whose judicial philosophy threatens the autonomy and well-being of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter V. Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.

Back to School Tips for Families of Students with Disabilities

Two sisters with glasses, backpacks, and tablets stand against a white background, with other students unfocused behind them.The start of a new school year can bring both excitement and anxiety for students and parents, especially for families of students receiving special education supports. Students with disabilities who struggle with change may need extra help making the transition to a new school or teacher.
To help families start the new school year off right, The Arc@School offers the following tips:
  • Prepare your children before school starts by discussing any anxiety your child may have, setting clear expectations, and slowly transitioning back to your child’s school routine and schedule.
  • Review your child’s IEP prior to the start of the school year to ensure that the goals, support services, and placement are still appropriate. Make sure to consider any progress or regression your child may have experienced over the summer or since the last IEP.
  • Meet with your child’s teachers and related services providers before school starts to review the IEP together and ensure everyone is on the same page regarding implementation of the IEP. This is also a great opportunity to establish a communication plan with the teachers and related service providers!
  • Once school begins, allow your child some time to get used to the new classes, teachers, and schedule, and your child’s teachers some time to get used to your child’s unique strengths and needs, but do not wait too long to address any issues that might arise!  Having open and respectful communication and dealing with challenges early can help avoid much bigger problems later.

If you have any concerns about your child’s services or supports, you can visit The Arc@School to learn more about your rights and where you can find help.

A young elementary-aged boy sits smiling in a chair, and an older girl poses behind it. There is a school bus in the background.

The Arc Condemns Plan to Fund Paid Leave by Putting Retirement Security at Risk

Today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to provide new parents with a partially-paid leave benefit, funded by cutting their future Social Security retirement benefits. Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) has indicated that she plans to introduce similar legislation in September.

“While we appreciate Senator Rubio and Representative Wagner turning their attention to paid leave, this legislation completely misses the mark. It is unconscionable to make workers choose between time with their family after the birth or adoption of a child and a secure retirement.

“In addition, this legislation offers a very limited benefit that won’t meet the needs of many families, such as parents who need extended leave to care for an infant born with multiple disabilities. Furthermore, this plan doesn’t address the most common reason workers take leave – namely, to address a serious illness of their own or of a family member.

“It is shocking that the authors of this bill think that asking people to sacrifice their future financial security for time with their family is appropriate or a solution.  Our nation can and should put in place an inclusive and fiscally responsible paid leave policy that reflects the full range of workers’ leave needs, including people with disabilities and their families. The Arc calls on Congress to reject the Rubio/Wagner plan and the harmful trade-offs that it promotes,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

2017 research paper by The Arc and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality found that workers with disabilities and working family members of people with disabilities face significant barriers to economic security and stability. On average, lower incomes and added disability-related costs leave many people with disabilities and their families disproportionately living in or near poverty, including in old age. These findings highlight the importance of paid family and medical leave and Social Security to the financial well-being of people with disabilities and their families.

The Arc recently released the Family & Individual Needs for Disability Supports (FINDS) Community Report 2017The FINDS Survey results highlight the challenges faced by caregivers of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in our nation. With respondents reporting an average of 57 hours of support provided to their loved one each week, 95% of caregivers reported being stressed and nearly 50% reporting being very or extremely stressed. Nearly 90% of caregivers reported that partial paid leave would be helpful to them as they support their loved one with I/DD.

The Arc Responds to the Trump Administration’s Final Rule on Short-Term Limited Duration Insurance

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services released the final “short-term plan” rule. These “short-term plans” can provide hollow coverage with hidden gaps for those who sign up. Expanding short-term plans will raise premiums and reduce plan choices for individuals and employers in the regular insurance market.

The proposal expands availability of a group of products that may implement discriminatory practices. This will likely draw healthier individuals off the Marketplace by offering them skinnier, medically-underwritten products, which will inflate prices and out-of-pocket costs on the Marketplace. The Arc believes that insurance coverage must ensure access to timely, affordable, high quality, and comprehensive health care that meets the needs of individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions.

Expanding access to short-term plans will move us even further away from achieving these goals. Short-term plans are not subject to consumer protections that have tremendous value for individuals with disabilities and chronic conditions, such as mandated essential health benefits, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, prohibitions on use of lifetime or annual caps, and other non-discrimination provisions.  For these reasons, The Arc, in partnership with a coalition of other disability rights organizations known as the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, released comments earlier this year opposing this rule.

“The Affordable Care Act ended the practice of discriminatory health insurance practices; this rule allows insurance companies to once again set higher premiums based on health conditions. This limits access to comprehensive coverage and that will have a dire impact on people with significant health issues, like individuals with chronic illness and disabilities.

“Make no mistake, today’s final rule undermines current law and puts Americans with pre-existing conditions at risk. We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect the Affordable Care Act and the benefits it provides for people with disabilities,” said Julie Ward, Deputy Executive Officer for Public Policy, The Arc.