The Arc of Florida Fights to Stop Proposed Mental Health Cuts
November 25, 2013
Self-advocates, family members and professionals from The Arc of Florida and its chapters attended an Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) hearing on November 19 to fight proposed cuts to mental health services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (I/DD) A proposed rule change to the Community Behavioral Health Services Coverage and Limitations Handbook (page 2-26) stated, "These services cannot be provided to recipients who are enrolled in a developmental disabilities waiver."
At the beginning of the hearing, Melissa Eddleman of AHCA, announced that changes would be coming to the section of the handbook in question. Here is video of her announcement:
After the announcement, self-advocates and others from across the state testified about their concerns with the proposed cuts to ensure their viewpoints were included on the record.
When Florida closed most of its state institutions over the last 20 years, individuals with I/DD were promised they would receive services they needed, including mental health counseling. The elimination of these services would violate that promise and harm an already vulnerable population of Floridians.
The Arc of Florida fought the rule change because it believes the elimination of mental health services for individuals on the developmental disability waiver violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is against the law to discriminate against an individual with a disability. Medicaid Act regulations also require that individuals not be discriminated against because of their diagnosis or condition.
iBudget Class Action Lawsuit Update
October 31, 2013
If you recently received a letter from The Agency for Persons with Disabilities, APD, regarding a Federal settlement agreement and you are unsure what the letter is about, please read below and check out the referenced websites.
The following information is taken from the http://newrightlaw.com/current-news-7 website:
In November of 2012, Southern Legal Counsel and Nancy Wright, Esq., jointly filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging the iBudget notices that APD sent to consumers to advise them of intended reductions to their annual funding. The Federal Judge agreed with the Plaintiffs.
Subsequent to Federal Judge Walker's order, APD and the Plaintiffs entered a Settlement Agreement, which is currently pending final court approval for the class. Anyone who got an iBudget notice of reduction should receive a letter telling them about the settlement and giving an opportunity to object. The hearing on final approval is scheduled for November 13, 2013.
The Settlement Agreement includes five provisions:
The entire agreement and further information can be found at:
Pat Young Sworn in as President of The Arc of Florida
October 30, 2013
Pensacola, Fla. - Pat Young, president of The Arc Gateway, is doubling her efforts to take advocacy to the state level. Earlier this month she was sworn in as president of The Arc of Florida at their annual convention in Gainesville. The position is a two-year term and overlaps her current office as president at The Arc Gateway which ends in April 2014. With the support of the staff, the board, the foundation and 500 members at Arc Gateway behind her, Pat's focus will be to bring state attention to the needs of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities - especially in the Panhandle where budget cuts have been felt more deeply.
There are approximately 40 Arcs throughout Florida and each has representation on the board. As part of her duties as president, Pat will preside over quarterly meetings and represent Florida at national Arc meetings. She will travel to the state office in Tallahassee during legislative session - an area in which she has much experience having served as assistant to former Representative Jerry Maygarden. Pat will also travel throughout the state visiting local Arc chapters to talk about national branding, increasing state funding for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and - an issue close to her heart - the misuse of restraints and seclusion rooms.
In 2011, Pat's grandson, Carson, was placed in a seclusion room after suffering an outburst. Carson is on the autism spectrum and anger outbursts resulting from the frustration of living with autism in not uncommon. The door was slammed on his hand and he broke his foot trying to kick the door open to free it. Pat is working to eliminate seclusion rooms and expand the law covering special needs students to require all teachers in the state, both in public schools and private institutions, to be trained in the proper use of physical restraints.
Arc Gateway provides programs and service to more than 800 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1954. For more information, visit www.arcgateway.org.