The Arc Responds to House Passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

We vehemently oppose this bill and the threats it poses to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities”

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the House of Representatives passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

“The Arc has a longstanding position that tax policy should raise sufficient revenues to finance programs that support people with disabilities to live and work in the community. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does the opposite. By reducing revenue by at least $1.5 trillion, the bill increases the pressure to turn next to cut Medicaid and other programs that are critical to the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We vehemently oppose this bill and the threats it poses to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We now turn our attention to the Senate, which is considering legislation that will also increase the deficit and repeal a portion of the Affordable Care Act that would undermine the entire law. The disability community has fought against threats to vital programs and won several times this year, and we are prepared to do it again,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

 

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc Condemns Federal Immigration Detainment of Rosamaria Hernandez

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the detainment of Rosamaria Hernandez, a ten-year-old child with cerebral palsy, who was stopped by federal immigration officials on her way to the hospital for emergency surgery, and detained upon her release from the hospital.

“The images of uniformed agents trying to stop a child from getting to the hospital and then standing outside her room while a child with a disability is having a medical crisis are just appalling and outrageous.

“Yet that’s what happened after Rosamaria Hernandez underwent emergency surgery. And now, she has been ripped away from her family, nearly ten years after she came to the United States when she was just three months old.

“We are better than this. Prioritizing the swift detention of a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who is recovering from significant surgery is a grossly misplaced priority by our government.

“While Rosamaria is in this unjust situation, she must be provided with legal representation, due process protections, and reasonable accommodations that meet her needs as a person with a disability on U.S. soil,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

 

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc Responds to Bipartisan Health Care Legislation

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) releasing bipartisan health care legislation:

“The Arc commends Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray for their bipartisan work on health care. Together they have developed legislation that continues the cost-sharing reduction payments that help low income people access affordable health insurance for two years. Stopping these payments raises concerns about insurers significantly raising premiums or dropping out of the market place. A short-term extension will help stabilize the market place.

“The Arc encourages Congress to continue to work in a bipartisan manner on health care issues. People’s lives are at stake and we need a solution that supports all citizens including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those with significant medical needs. We appreciate the leadership shown by Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The agreement that Senators Alexander and Murray announced would also partially restore federal funding to the Department of Health and Human Services for consumer outreach and education and enrollment assistance. These services, which were cut earlier this year, help people enroll and understand the different plan options available. Restoring funding for these programs will be critical to ensuring the expansion of health care coverage and to reduce the number of uninsured people.

The bill also makes changes to the Section 1332 state waiver process. Section 1332 was included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to give states the option to experiment with other health coverage models as long as they maintain access to high quality, affordable health care, and maintain the consumer protections in the ACA. The proposal would keep the consumer protections in Section 1332 but streamlines the administration of the waiver.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Parents and Advocates Sue State of Georgia Over Separate and Unequal Education for Thousands of Students with Disabilities

Parents of Children with Disabilities, The Georgia Advocacy Office, The Center for Public Representation, The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, The Arc, DLA Piper LLP, and The Goodmark Firm File Class Action Lawsuit Against State of Georgia

ATLANTA, GA (Oct. 11, 2017) – Today, parents of children with disabilities, the Georgia Advocacy Office, the Center for Public Representation, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, The Arc, DLA Piper LLP, and the Goodmark Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging that the State of Georgia has discriminated against thousands of public school students with disabilities by providing them with a separate and unequal education via the State’s Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports Program (GNETS).

The complaint filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleges that the State, in denying GNETS students the opportunity to be educated with their non-disabled peers in neighborhood schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For more information about the litigation, please visit www.centerforpublicrep.org/court_case/gao-v-georgia/.

“The Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO), the independent Protection and Advocacy System for People with Disabilities in Georgia, is demanding the State abandon GNETS and stop segregating youth with disabilities,” said Ruby Moore, Executive Director of GAO. “GNETS programs are a relic of a time where people with disabilities were thought to be uneducable. GAO has and will continue to fight against GNETS and any program or service that unnecessarily segregates people with disabilities.”

GNETS are segregated programs that serve only students with disabilities, housed in entirely separate buildings or in separate wings of neighborhood schools, for students who need services for their disability-related behaviors. In 2016, over 5,000 students with disabilities were placed in GNETS. Most of these students are African-American and 100% of the students enrolled experience disabilities. “The State of Georgia’s segregated GNETS system flies in the face of long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” said Alison Barkoff, Director of Advocacy for the Center for Public Representation. “The Court recognized long ago that ‘separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.’ And the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. made clear that the ADA forbids the needless isolation or segregation of people with disabilities, because it deprives them of opportunities like getting an education and social contacts with peers.”

GNETS students are denied access to physical education, art, music, and extra-curricular activities, and many GNETS centers have no library, cafeteria, gym, science lab, music room, or playground. Some GNETS centers are located in buildings that were used to teach African-American students during the Jim Crow era, much of the instruction is performed via online programs rather than with certified teachers, and educational curricula are not aligned with State standards. Accordingly, GNETS students rarely earn a diploma. The GNETS graduation rate is only 10% in contrast to a nearly 80% graduation rate in neighborhood schools. Students in GNETS are physically restrained on a routine basis, nearly 10,000 times in 2014-2016. “Although advertised as ‘therapeutic,’ GNETS are anything but – often student behavior worsens once placed in GNETS because of the harsh and punitive atmosphere in the schools,” said attorney Craig Goodmark. “Decades of research and practice show that students with and without disabilities do best academically and socially when they learn alongside each other.”

Instead of providing local school districts with the resources to offer the services these students need, the State is spending millions of dollars on segregated settings. “GNETS was intended to be a placement of the last resort. Instead, GNETs has become a dumping ground for students whom local school districts do not want to educate,” said Ira Burnim, the Bazelon Center’s Legal Director. “Georgia is the only state in the country to systematically segregate students with disabilities on a statewide basis. This is a plain violation of federal disability laws intended to ensure that students with disabilities are able to learn and receive services in integrated settings along with their peers without disabilities.”

In response to the efforts of a broad coalition of stakeholders seeking to end the illegal segregation of students in GNETS, the Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) performed a multi-year investigation (www.ada.gov/olmstead/documents/gnets_lof.pdf) of GNETS. The investigation eventually culminated in a lawsuit against the State, alleging that the State’s administration of the GNETS system violates the ADA by “unnecessarily segregating students with disabilities from their peers” and providing “unequal” education opportunities to GNETS students. That lawsuit has been put on hold pending a decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding DOJ’s authority to bring suit.

“The Arc has long fought for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be educated in their neighborhood schools with appropriate services, supplementary aids, and supports,” said Stacey Ramirez, Director of The Arc’s Georgia state office. “Georgia’s systemic segregation of students with disabilities is unacceptable to The Arc and its constituents in Georgia. With DOJ’s lawsuit now on hold, the children of Georgia can wait no longer.”

About The Arc

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. In partnership with its network of 650 chapters across the country, The Arc works to promote and protect the rights of people with I/DD to live, work, and learn in the community free from discrimination. Through its Georgia state office, The Arc seeks to ensure that students with I/DD throughout the state can meaningfully access the myriad benefits, programs, and services offered to students in neighborhood public schools. To learn more, visit www.thearc.org.

About The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a national legal advocacy organization protecting and advancing the rights of people with mental disabilities. The Center promotes laws and policies that enable people with mental disabilities to live independently in their own homes and

communities, and to enjoy the same opportunities that everyone else does. For more information, visit www.bazelon.org.

About The Center for Public Representation

The Center for Public Representation (CPR) is a national legal advocacy center for people with disabilities. For 40 years, CPR has been enforcing and expanding the rights of people with disabilities and others who are in segregated settings. CPR uses legal strategies, advocacy, and policy to design and implement systemic reform initiatives to that promote integration and full community participation. To learn more about our work, visit www.centerforpublicrep.org.

About DLA Piper LLP

DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, positioning us to help clients with their legal needs around the world. To learn more, visit www.dlapiper.com/en/us.

About The Georgia Advocacy Office

The Georgia Advocacy Office is Georgia’s designated Protection and Advocacy System. GAO envisions a Georgia where all people have value, visibility and voice; where even the most difficult and long-lasting challenges are addressed by ordinary citizens acting voluntarily on behalf of each other; and where the perception of disability is replaced by the recognition of ability. GAO’s mission is to organize our resources and follow our values and legal mandates in ways which substantially increase the number of people who are voluntarily standing beside and for people in Georgia who have significant disabilities and mental illness. To learn more, visit www.thegao.org.

About The Goodmark Law Firm

Since 1999, Mr. Goodmark has dedicated a majority of his practice to representing families, teachers and students in their pursuit of equality, fairness and justice in Georgia’s schools. To learn more, visit www.goodmarklaw.com.

Disability Rights Protected Again: The Arc on Senate Not Voting on Graham-Cassidy This Week

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement following news that the United States Senate would not hold a vote this week on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal. This was the sixth attempt this year by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid.

“The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal recycled the same threats to Medicaid we fought back on time and time again this year. It was an unacceptable approach for those who rely on Medicaid for a life in the community. While there won’t be a vote this week, it doesn’t change the fact that the architects of this bill showed a disturbing disregard for the important role Medicaid plays in meeting the needs of their constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The victors in this battle are the advocates across the country who made clear that the disability community staunchly opposes legislation that includes per capita caps or block granting of Medicaid. We thank all the advocates who rallied together and would not be ignored when the civil rights of people with disabilities were at stake. We also thank the Members of Congress who joined us in opposing this bill.

“This year, we’ve fought multiple health care proposals that threatened the health and well-being of people with disabilities. While we celebrate this victory, we remain vigilant and ready to oppose future threats to Medicaid put forward by Congress,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

 

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc Responds to Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Health Care Proposal

Architects of this bill are still ignoring the pleas of their constituents with disabilities

Today, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and former US Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) unveiled the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Arc released the following statement in response:

“While this piece of legislation has a new title and makes new promises, it is more of the same threats to Medicaid and those who rely on it for a life in the community. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal cuts and caps the Medicaid program. The loss of federal funding is a serious threat to people with disabilities and their families who rely on Medicaid for community based supports.

“Many of the provisions in this legislation are the same or worse than what we encountered earlier this year, which shows that the architects of this bill are still ignoring the pleas of their constituents with disabilities. The talking points sugar coat it, but the reality is simple – under this proposal less money would be available despite the fact the needs of people who rely on Medicaid have not decreased.  The Arc remains staunchly opposed to legislation that includes per capita caps or block granting of Medicaid. We need Members of Congress to find a solution that actually takes into consideration the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of the The Arc.

Grant from Walmart Foundation Will Allow The Arc to Support People with Disabilities in Building Fulfilling Careers

Washington, DC – The Arc is thrilled to announce it has received an additional $240,000 from the Walmart Foundation to encourage and support workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to enter the workforce. Current research indicates that only 15% of people with I/DD are currently employed. However, with the right supports, many people with I/DD can build a career alongside their peers without disabilities.

“With the Walmart Foundation’s generous support in 2016, The Arc@Work was able to significantly increase the number of individuals with I/DD working in the community. Now, with this additional funding, The Arc and its chapters are excited to further narrow the workforce gap between people with I/DD and their colleagues without disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc’s employment initiative, The Arc@Work, connects organizations with people and services that increase the diversity, productivity, and quality of their overall workforce. In 2016, the program partnered with 16 chapters of The Arc to connect employers with talented employees with I/DD. With the Walmart Foundation’s support, these chapters were able to reach and even surpass many of their objectives. By June 2017, nearly 400 individuals with I/DD had secured employment, while 15 states and over 1,700 employers were engaged in outreach. The year also produced many success stories, such as this one from The Arc of Monroe County in Rochester, New York.

When Danielle first began receiving employment services, she exhibited low self-confidence and struggled with social interactions ranging from phone calls to interviews. As she began to take part in her first career fair, job interviews, and informal meetings with potential employers, her confidence started to grow. Through practice and dedication to the process, she was able to overcome the stress and anxiety associated with interacting with potential employers.

Eventually Danielle received a call for an interview at a local senior facility that would result in a pivotal change in her life’s course. The day before she was scheduled to interview, Danielle and her employment specialist practiced answering hypothetical interview questions and how to talk about her qualifications. The following day, Danielle performed flawlessly. Danielle engaged the interviewer in a funny story and her demeanor and the content of her answers to the interview questions were on point.

The following week Danielle was offered a job, and she has been working at the senior facility now for 7 months. Danielle is excellent at her job and has an impressive work pace. She is organized and efficient and her coworkers love to be scheduled to work with her because of her amazing work ethic. In late June, Danielle’s astounding professional and personal growth was recognized at an awards ceremony sponsored by The Arc of Monroe County. When asked how the job has changed her life, Danielle simply replied, “It feels rewarding to be working!”

The Arc of Monroe County’s Tammy Reynolds couldn’t agree more: “The Arc@Work is a valued partner promoting workforce diversity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc on Motion to Proceed in Senate: “All roads from this vote are bad for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities”

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement on Senate passage of a motion to proceed that starts debate on health care legislation that will impact Medicaid:

“Today, a majority of Senators ignored the pleas of their constituents and moved ahead with debating disastrous health care proposals that will result in people losing health care coverage and threaten the Medicaid home and community based service system.

“All roads from this vote are bad for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One path repeals without replacing the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office analysis showed that under that proposal, by 2026, 32 million people would lose health insurance and premiums would double.

“Another option decimates the Medicaid program, and the home and community based supports and services that people with disabilities rely on to do what many people take for granted, including getting out of bed in the morning, eating, toileting, and simply getting out into the community.

“Now is the time for action – it doesn’t matter if this is the first time someone is calling their Senators, or they’ve called them every day in this fight. This is the civil rights fight of our time, and we will remain vigilant to protect all that has been built to ensure the inclusion and equality of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our society,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc Responds to Delayed Vote on Senate Health Care Bill That Showed Dangerous Disregard for People with Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the Senate delaying the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act:

“We are pleased that the Senate is delaying its vote on this dangerous piece of legislation, but we remain vigilant in our opposition to this bill. We commend the Members of Congress who stood up for the rights of their constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities by opposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act over the last few days. This bill showed a dangerous disregard for the wellbeing of people with disabilities and those with complex medical needs.

“I want to warn advocates that this is a delay, not a defeat of this threat. The bill is still an assault on the rights of people with disabilities. Any Senator supporting this travesty of a bill will be accountable for the negative impact on their constituents and the irrevocable damage it will do to our community based services system. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of cutting health care coverage from at least 22 million individuals by 2026. Per the budget report, by next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law.

“We will continue our efforts to change the hearts and minds of those who supported this bill and help them understand that their constituents rely on Medicaid for comprehensive health care coverage and long term services and supports that enable them to live full lives in the community. Those are the Senators we need to reach; we need them to realize what is at stake.  Our work is far from over, we will continue to work tirelessly in opposition to this bill. We encourage members of our network to share their stories with their Senators during the upcoming recess,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

The Arc Warns that the Senate Republican Leadership’s Discussion Draft of Health Care Legislation Shows Callous Disregard for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC – The Arc issued the following statement after the release of the Senate Republicans’ health care legislation today:

“This bill will have a devastating impact on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Make no mistake – people’s lives and independence are on the line.

“More than 10 million people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to live and work in their communities. This bill severely cuts Medicaid. Home and community based services are optional or waiver services for states and, when facing a loss of billions in federal funding, they are what is likely to be cut first. The Arc is outraged that the Senate would undo decades of bipartisan progress building our community based services system with no discussion of the impact on the individuals and families affected by the changes, all for the purposes of giving a massive tax cut to health insurance firms, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other entities.

“People with disabilities across the country are terrified of what this bill will do to their lives. Medicaid provides access to quality health care and services and supports which help them with the basics of life, such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, managing their finances, transportation and more.  It allows family members to stay employed, knowing that their loved one with disabilities is supported to live independently.  For many it may mean the difference between life and death.  This legislation is an assault on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we implore Senators to do the right thing and oppose this bill. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote against the progress of the disability rights movement and constituents who rely on Medicaid for their independence,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.