Friday, November 30, 2007

News: The Arc of North Carolina Green Level Homes Groundbreaking

Today, The Serving Cup, The Arc of NC, and Lutheran Family Services of the Carolinas will break ground on construction of Green Level Homes. These housing units are HUD811 apartments for adults with developmental disabilities. The apartmetns will be located on the corner of Green Level Road and Rt. 55. They are within walking distance of High House Shopping Center.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Julia's Musings: What's Up with SCHIP?

It’s been a while since I’ve written about SCHIP, the state children’s health insurance program, so I thought I would give a brief update. During a recent conference call, we were informed that negotiations between Congressional leaders and the White House have bogged down. That’s a polite way of saying nothing is moving on SCHIP right now.

The first SCHIP bill passed the House and Senate and was promptly vetoed by President Bush. Congressional leadership tried for an override and failed. Then we had SCHIP 2.0, which passed the House but is stalled in the Senate. The Bush Administration stated clearly that it would veto the House compromise. This brings us to SCHIP 3.0. The problem facing Congressional leadership is that any compromise that moves SCHIP closer to President Bush’s appropriation requests will possibly lose some Democratic votes, not to mention it will mean a cut in funding for this important program.

Currently the federal budget is holding at the 2007 fiscal appropriation figures, thanks to the most recent continuing resolution. Today, I received a great graph from the National Disability Rights Network that shows the spending projected by our state for the FY 2008 federal SCHIP program. North Carolina’s projected FY 2008 federal SCHIP spending is at $194.7 million. The project federal allotment is $136.1 million. Funding remaining in the till from the prior year is $9.0 million. So, you put all these figures together and you come up with a FY 2008 shortfall of $49.5 million. That’s quite a shortfall, which means fewer children can be enrolled in the SCHIP program. As you may recall from my previous “musings,” over 1,300 children with disabilities are currently being served by our state’s SCHIP. With the current projections for funding in 2008 North Carolina would run out of money to support our state’s SCHIP by June. For a state that is continually discussing health care reform, it is critical that our Congressional leaders step forward at this crucial time and fully fund SCHIP. This is not about proving fiscal responsibility; this issue is about protecting the health of the most vulnerable and hardest to insure in our population, children with disabilities.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Announcement: The Arc of North Carolina Ribbon Cutting for Opening Doors Supportive Apartments

December 4, 2007
96 Stone Hill Court, Durham, North Carolina.
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

The Arc of North Carolina, Durham County Community Living Programs, Inc. and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency are proud to announce the opening of a new collaborative housing project for persons with disabilities. The Arc of North Carolina was awarded grants from the NC Housing Finance Agency’s new Housing 400 Initiative and The Durham Center Housing Development Fund to purchase and renovate four condominium units to provide inclusive, affordable housing for people with disabilities. These four 2-bedroom units are located within existing condominium communities and will be able to serve up to eight people. The units are conveniently located on a bus line and in walking distance to shopping, employment and recreational opportunities. Tenants will hold a lease to their unit and pay rent based on their income. Individualized services will be available through Durham County Community Living Programs and other area agencies. Opening Doors Supportive Apartments is the first of the Housing 400 Initiative-Supportive Housing Development Program grantees to open its doors for people with disabilities to live in a supportive and inclusive housing unit. The Housing 400 Initiative received bi-partisan legislative support in the General Assembly. The 2007-2008 Fiscal budget includes $7.5 million in non recurring funding to finance additional independent and supportive living apartments for people with disabilities. The Arc of North Carolina extends its thanks to the many elected leaders who worked to get this funding into the budget. Dave Richard, Executive Director of The Arc of North Carolina, states “Opening Doors is an excellent example of a collaborative project that incorporates non-profit organizations, state and local funding and a best practice principle to benefit people with disabilities in the most inclusive of settings, their own home in their choice of community”.

Announcement: Money Follows the Person Town Hall Meetings.

Money Follows the Person is a Federal grant that will help some people now in nursing facilities to return to their communities. There will be a series of town hall meetings to receive public input. We encourage you to take this opportunity to participate in these meetings.

For more information please see:

Money Follows the Person Town Hall Meetings:
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Chapel Hill Public Library
100 Library Drive, Chapel Hill 27514
(919) 968-2777

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Cape Fear Community College
North Campus, BB&T Auditorium, McKeithan Center
4500 Blue Clary Road, Castle Hayne 28429
(910) 362-7000

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Pitt Community College
Leslie Building, Room 143
Greenville, NC 27835
(252) 493-7400

Thursday, December 6, 2007
Catawba Valley Community College
Small Auditorium, Administration Building
2550 Hwy, 70 South
(828) 327-7000

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for this Week

North Carolina:

Monday, November 26, 2007
Child Fatality Task Force-Intentional Death
This committee is meeting to discus proposed legislation regarding Child Endangerment legislation and a proposed 1-800 hotline for reporting child abuse and neglect. This committee meets on a regular basis during the session break.

Monday, November 26, 2007
21st Century Transportation
This will be the second meeting of this select committee to discuss transportation and infrastructure issues in North Carolina. This committee was appointed by Speaker of the House Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro-Tempore Senator Marc Basnight.


Congress is still on recess for two weeks. The Senate will actually hold several pro forma sessions during the recess in an attempt to prohibit President Bush from appointing controversial nominees during the recess.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Have A Wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday

The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will not be updated on Thursday or Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday. We wish you a happy and safe holiday.

Julia's Musings: Thanksgiving Thoughts

As I write this I am on my way home to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with my mother. It is times like this that you are given to ponder over what we should be thankful for. As a person with a disability I am thankful that I have a good job, a home, health insurance, a reliable car, a wonderful spouse, and good friends. These are the blessings that make a life full and joyous. These are also the things that many people with disabilities want for. People with disabilities still face barriers to stable, fulfilling and competitive employment. From discrimination in the hiring process to lack of reasonable accommodations on the job, people with disabilities find themselves either underemployed or unemployed.
There are barriers to affordable housing, from lack of available homes to landlords that do not accept housing subsidies. This year we worked diligently to pass the Fair Housing Act Amendment. This legislation would have removed discrimination based on source of income. Removing this significant barrier will open more housing options to people with disabilities in the rental market. Currently many accessible rental units remain unoccupied by people who really need them.
There are significant issues facing people with disabilities in the area of affordable health insurance. The continuing rising cost of insurance for people with pre existing medical conditions prices many out of the market. Thankfully, the General Assembly passed legislation this session to establish a high risk insurance pool to cover our most difficult to insure.
Transportation access is a continuous discussion, not only in the halls of the General Assembly but in the halls of Congress. People with disabilities require affordable, accessible and reliable transportation to successfully live in their chosen communities. Currently there are two legislative committees addressing transportation in the state of North Carolina.
Relationships, friendships are the threads of our community fabric. Recently, a wedding that I attended reminded me that not so long ago people with disabilities were often denied the right to wed. On this one beautiful day, two people with developmental disabilities were joined in marriage before their families and friends. A testament to how much has changed. But so much is still left to be done. Segregated class rooms, segregated schools often limited social interactions and limited the development of people with disabilities to form social and communal bonds. Today, thankfully many of these barriers have disappeared but not all.
Children with disabilities in our schools are often ending up in the most restrictive academic setting limiting their ability to socialize with their peers. This has to change. This year the General Assembly passed the Disability History and Awareness Bill. This bill created by young leaders with disabilities designated October as Disability History and Awareness Month and required schools to integrated disability history and culture into their curricula. The intent of this legislation is to highlight the contributions of the disability community to society and to open the door to a better cultural understanding of what “disability” is.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we are truly thankful for. To the many leaders in the General Assembly who lead on the important issues that affect the disability community in North Carolina, we are thankful for your work and for the policy you helped pass. But, there is still much to be done.

Announcement: The Arc of the United States Executive Director Steps Down

November 13, 2007-Announcement Release.

The Arc of the United States announced today that Executive Director Sue Swenson will step down at the end of the year. Ms. Swenson was named Executive Director of The Arc of the United States in 2005. Ms. Swenson is a nationally and internationally recognized advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The Board of Directors for The Arc has asked John Foley to work with Ms. Swenson on transition at the organization's Silver Spring, MD headquarters. Mary V. Jordan, President of the Board said, "John enjoys a long and distinguished history with The Arc and his association with us spans almost 40 years. His service in this capacity will provide support to the Board and streamline the process of identifying a new Executive Director for our organization. "Mr. Foley was a founding member of The Arc of Saunders County, Nebraska. Subsequent to that he served as the Executive Director of The Arc of Nebraska, as Regional Representative for The Arc of the United States, and was as Chapter Consultant from 1975-80. Mr. Foley served as the Executive Director of The Arc of New Mexico from 1988 until he retired in 2001. In the summer of 2001, Mr. Foley re-joined The Arc of the U.S. as Chapter Consultant. Mr. Foley and his wife Violet are the parents of an adult daughter with disabilities. The Board of Directors will develop a process to commence a comprehensive search for a new Executive Director.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

North Carolina:

The Child Fatality task force met on Monday to continue their discussion of issues regarding infant health, pre-natal care and breast feeding.

Holiday Note:
The General Assembly will be closed on Thursday and Friday. Committees will begin meeting again on Saturday, November 24, 2007.

Upcoming Committee Meetings:


Monday, November 26, 2007. Child Fatality Taskforce-Intentional Death Committee.

Monday, November 26, 2007. 21st Century Transportation Committee.

Gang Prevention Committee Announcement:
Speaker of the House Joe Hackney has announced a 14 member committee that will address the prevention of gang activity in the state. This committee will be lead by Representative Mickey Michaux D-Durham. The members of the committee include Reps. Alma Adams, D-Guilford; Dan Blue, D-Wake; Debbie Clary, R-Cleveland; Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham; Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg; Jim Crawford, D-Granville; William Current, R-Gaston; Margaret Dickson, D-Cumberland; Beverly Earle, D-Mecklenburg; Phillip Frye, R-Caldwell; Earl Jones, D-Guilford; Marion McLawhorn, D-Pitt; and Rep. Tracy Walker, R-Wilkes.


Continuing Resolutions FY 2007 Budget:
The federal budget is operating on the second continuing resolution. This new continuing resolution will be set to expire in mid December.

U.S. Congress:
The U.S. Congress has started a two-week recess. The Senate will actually hold several pro forma sessions during the recess in an attempt to prohibit President Bush from appointing controversial nominees during the recess. The Congress will return on December 3 to face difficult decisions on FY 2008 spending, Iraq war spending, SCHIP reauthorization and other emergency legislation.

Announcement: DHHS Community Rehabilitation Programs

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services
3001 Mail Service Center • Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-3001 Tel 919-733-7011 • Fax 919-508-0951
Michael F. Easley, Governor Dempsey Benton, Secretary Michael Moseley, Director
November 19, 2007

To: Legislative Oversight Committee Members State Facility Directors Commission for MH/DD/SAS Area Program Directors Consumer/Family Advisory Committee Chairs Area Program Board Chairs State Consumer Family Advisory Committee Chairs DHHS Division Directors Advocacy Organizations and Groups Provider Organizations North Carolina Association of County Commissioners MH/DD/SAS Professional Organizations and Groups County Managers MH/DD/SAS Stakeholder Organizations and Groups County Board Chairs Other MH/DD/SAS Stakeholders North Carolina Council of Community Programs NC Association of Directors of DSS

From: Mike Moseley Re: Communication Bulletin #084

Community Rehabilitation Programs
There have recently been a number of stories in the media regarding the future of Community Rehabilitation Programs (CRPs), commonly known as Sheltered Workshops. These articles have erroneously created the impression that the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services is planning to discontinue its support of CRPs.
CRPs have a long history of providing individuals with disabilities with developmental skills training, vocational adjustment services, and extended or sheltered employment. The state pays for these services primarily through a service definition known as Adult Developmental Vocational Program, or ADVP. In State Fiscal Year 2006-2007, DMH/DD/SAS spent more than $21 million in state funds on this service.
It is true that we have been working with the industry, consumers and families, and other stakeholders to develop a wider array of employment options for people with disabilities. In a person-centered system, people with disabilities should be supported to have an array of options and to make choices about where they live, work and how they enjoy their leisure time activities. Our goal is for people with disabilities to be able to be fully participating members of their communities. In accordance with nationally-recognized best practices, that includes ensuring adequate opportunities for consumers to be supported in employment in integrated community settings.
It is also true that in some Local Management Entity (LME) catchment areas, LMEs have worked with consumers and families and their CRP providers to implement alternatives to the traditional ADVP service. Those changes have been driven by local circumstances and have been made locally. We are monitoring the impact of those changes on consumers and are encouraged by the preliminary results. However, the state has no plan to discontinue support for CRPs or to eliminate the ADVP service definition unless or until appropriate alternatives are developed for all consumers.

cc: Secretary Dempsey Benton Dan Stewart DMH/DD/SAS Executive Leadership Team DMH/DD/SAS Staff Sharnese Ransome Rich Slipsky Wayne Williams Kaye Holder Kory Goldsmith Andrea Poole Mark Van Sciver Brad Deen Walker Wilson An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer

Read the memorandum on line:

The Arc of North Carolina will be releasing a position statement regarding Community Rehabilitation Programs.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

BEAKING NEWS: House of Representative Fails to Override Presidential Veto: Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill

The House of Representatives attempted this evening to override President Bush's veto of the the FY 2008 Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. The attempt fell short. The House failed to override the veto. This is the last vote that will occur before the Thanksgiving Holiday break.

Vote Count:
Yeas 277
Nays 141
Not Voting 15

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Help Override President Bush's Veto of the Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill

Today the House of Representatives will attempt to override President Bush's veto of the FY 2008 Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill. This appropriations bill is very important to people with developmental and cognitive disabilities. We urge you to take action today. Please see details below.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

URGENT ACTION ALERT! Email Your Representative and Our Senators Today!!

We Need Your Help TODAY! Email Your Representative and Our Senators. Help to Override the President’s Veto of the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill.

Yesterday, The Arc of North Carolina reported on this blog that President Bush had vetoed the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Bill. TODAY, we need your help. Congress is going to try to override this veto. We need you to email your Representative and Senators.

Why Is This Important to the Disability Community?
This legislation affects million of people with disabilities, their families, caregivers and service providers.
The appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) is the bill that provides funding for the vast majority of federal disability programs.
The 2008 Labor-HHS-Ed bill (H.R. 3043) provides about $7 billion more than last year's bill, including increases for: • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind• Developmental Disabilities Act programs• A new family support program earmark• Staffing of the Social Security Administration to expedite disability benefits claims• Child health and human development research at the National Institutes of Health

Take Action:
Send an email message to your Senators and Representatives TODAY, November 14! Please be sure to add some information about your personal interest in disability programs and services to the sample message.
Find Who Represents You

Sample Email Language:
I am writing to urge you to vote to override President Bush's veto of the FY 2008 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies.
This bill provides funding for the vast majority of federal disability programs. Millions of people with disabilities depend on these programs for their vocational, health, and educational needs and their very survival.

This year's Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill finally brings desperately needed increases for historically underfinanced disability-related programs. It provides $7 billion more than last year's bill, including increases for:
• The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and No Child Left Behind
• Developmental Disabilities Act programs
• A new family support program earmark
• Staffing of the Social Security Administration to expedite disability benefits claims
• Child health and human development research at the National Institutes of Health

Want More Information:
Click here to view a comparison of funding levels for all major disability programs.

Announcement: DD/MH/SAS Legislative Oversight Committee Meeting Tomorrow, Thursday November 15th

Tomorrow will be the third Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services. This meeting is open to the public and you can listen online at

November 15, 2007, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Room 643, LOB
Senator Martin Nesbitt, Co-Chair, Presiding

Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:15
Senator Martin Nesbitt, Co-Chair
Representative Verla Insko, Co-Chair

Reduction in State Hospital Utilization Pilot 10:15 – Noon
Review of Special Provision
LOC Staff

Selection Process
Laura White, Team Leader, State Psychiatric Hospitals
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

LMEs Description of Pilot Plans

Don Herring, Director – ACCESS/STR/ES Service Management
Western Highlands Network

Betty Taylor, CEO
Rhonda Outlaw, COO
CenterPoint Human Services

Tom McDevitt, LME Director
Doug Trantham, Service Management Director
Smoky Mountain Center

Lunch Noon – 1:00

Community Support Service Update 1:00 – 1:45

Tom Galligan, Deputy Director for Budget & Finance
Division of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Tara Larson, Acting Deputy Director for Clinical Affairs
Division of Medical Assistance, DHHS

Single Stream Funding Update 1:45 – 2:00
Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Independent Evaluation of LME Performance 2:00 – 2:15
Leza Wainwright, Deputy Director
Division of MH/DD/SAS, DHHS

Member and Public Comment 2:15 – 3:00


NEWS: Continuing Resolution Federal Budget Update

If you are looking at a calendar, you know that the Continuing Resolution that our government passed a month ago expires on Friday, November 16, 2007. The current CR is allowing the federal government to operate based on the 2007 Fiscal Year budget. Currently no appropriations bill has been signed by the President. The most recent appropriations bills, Labor-Education-Health and Human Services, was vetoed by the President and an override attempt is scheduled in the House for tomorrow. We are expecting to see another Continuing Resolution signed that will permit the federal government to keep operating at its current budget. This second Continuing Resolution will expire in December before the planned Holiday break.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday Quick Hits: Hot Topics in Policy This Week.

Note: Due to the Veteran's Day Holiday on Monday, Monday Quick Hits was delayed a day. We hope you enjoyed your time off and reflected on the brave men and women who served and serve our nation.

North Carolina:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation Joint Legislative Commission.
Dropout Prevention was a hot topic during the long session. Speaker of the House Joe Hackney has been holding a series of public meetings to receive input on the dropout rates in our schools. A few of the things this committee will be doing are: looking at programs designed to reduce the drop out, review and research factors related to students success in school, evaluate grants for dropout prevention programs and review courses required for graduation.

Thursday, November 15, 2007
Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse.
The meeting this week will look at the reduction in State hospital utilization pilot, a community support service update, and revised Dorothea Dix and John Umstead Hospitals closure plan.

FY 2008 Continuing Resolution
Since none of the twelve FY appropriations bills have been signed into law, the federal government is now operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on November 16. A new CR has been added to the emergency war spending bill. This CR would last until December 14. The CRs maintain FY 2007 funding levels for all programs.

FY 2008 Appropriations
The House and Senate are expected to vote on the conference report on the FY 2008 appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation and HUD. A veto threat also hangs over this bill. The bill includes $9.65 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, which is $640 million above FY 2007 levels. The New Freedom Program for people with disabilities and the Section 5310 funding for programs serving people with disabilities and the elderly would also receive their fully authorized level of funding ($127 million for Section 5310 and $87.5 million for New Freedom).

Higher Education
The House Education and Labor Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the Higher Education Act reauthorization on November 14. The College Affordability and Opportunity Act contains provisions that will help students with disabilities access higher education.

ADA Restoration
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Senator Kennedy (D-MA), will hold a hearing on November 15 to discuss the original intent of the ADA. Prior to the hearing, a rally is scheduled at the U.S. Capitol and National Mall hosted by the Road to Freedom. The Road to Freedom, a project of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR), is finishing a 50-state bus tour promoting the civil rights of people with disabilities and the passage of the ADA Restoration Act. Additional information on the hearing, including how to view the hearing online, is available at:

On November 14, the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Medicaid service providers. The focus of the hearing will be a recent study conducted by the Government Accountability Office on unpaid taxes, the extent of the problem, and possible solutions.

BREAKING NEWS: President Bush Vetoes Labor, Education, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill.

C-Span is reporting that President Bush has vetoed the $606 billion Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill. This is the sixth bill the President has vetoed. Only once has there been a successful over ride of his veto.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill includes the following:
The measure provides:
_a 20 percent increase over Bush's request for job training programs.
_$1.4 billion more than Bush's request for health research at the National Institutes of Health, a 5 percent increase.
_$2.4 billion for heating subsidies for the poor, $480 million more than Bush requested.
_$665 million for grants to community action agencies; Bush sought to kill the program outright.
_$63.6 billion for the Education Department, a 5 percent increase over 2007 spending and 8 percent more than Bush sought.
_a $225 million increase for community health centers.

Read More:


Take Action Today! Call Senator Elizabeth Dole and Senator Richard Burr! Ask them to Support the CMS Regulations Moratorium.

Urge Our Senators to Support the Moratorium on the Proposed Regulations on Medicaid’s Rehab Option and School Based Services by Signing the Sanders-Collins-Casey “Dear Colleague” Letter.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued two proposed Medicaid regulations which, if implemented, would have a severe impact on children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. One would limit habilitation services for people with developmental disabilities under Medicaid’s rehabilitative services option. The other would limit school based services and transportation for Medicaid eligible children receiving IDEA services.

A two year moratorium on these proposed regulations, which would prevent CMS from taking any action to implement them, is part of the SCHIP reauthorization bill. However it is unclear whether that bill will become law this year.

Senators Sanders (D-VT), Collins (R-ME), and Casey (D-PA) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging their colleagues to sign a letter to Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) urging them to include the two-year Medicaid regulation moratorium in the a forthcoming Medicare bill. (Congress will soon be considering a bill on Medicare reimbursements to physicians).

It is important that as many Senators as possible sign this letter. Hearing from their constituents will encourage them to do so.

The deadline for Senators to sign the “Dear Colleague” letter is close of business Thursday, November 15th.

Action Needed
Call your Senators’ Washington offices before Thursday, November 15.

You can:
* Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senators office’s OR
*Call Senator Elizabeth Dole’s office at (202) 224-6342, Senator Richard Burr’s office at (202) 224-3154.

Talking points:
* May I please speak with the staff person who handles Medicaid or health care?

* I am calling to urge the Senator to sign on to the “Sanders-Collins-Casey” Dear Colleague. This letter urges the Finance Committee to include a two-year moratorium on proposed Medicaid regulations in the Medicare bill.

* If implemented, these regulations would severely limit services which are critical to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

* If the Senator has not seen the letter, has questions, or is willing to sign on, he/she should call Abby Driscoll in Senator Sanders’ office (for Democratic offices) or Priscilla Hanley in Senator Collins’ office (for Republican offices).

* The deadline for Senators to sign the letter is close of business Thursday, November 15th.

Friday, November 9, 2007

News: Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Update

This week both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bill to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. In the House the bill fell just three votes short of the two-thirds needed to override a veto. The bill is now on its way to President Bush where it is expected to be vetoed. The $606 billion appropriations bill includes $150.7 billion in discretionary spending. This exceeds President Bush’s discretionary spending request by $9.8 billion. We will continue to follow this legislation. Currently Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are operating under a continuing resolution that is set to expire on November 16th. We are expecting to see another continuing resolution as the debate on the budget continues in Washington, DC.

Read More:

Julia's Musings: Transportation Leaving Us In The Dust?

This week I attended the 21st Century Transportation Committee meeting. This twenty-four member committee was appointed by Governor Mike Easley, Speaker of the House Joe Hackney and Senate Pro Tempore Marc Basnight to address the growing concerns regarding infrastructure in North Carolina. It was also created to avoid calling a special session on transportation and infrastructure. The first meeting was a roll out of the responsibilities this committee will be charged with. These responsibilities include:
*researching traditional and non traditional funding sources
*looking at innovative technology to improve the transportation system
*adequately funding road construction
*analyzing the safety of current roads and bridges
*examining of the role of ports and mass transits
*reviewing public transportation needs.
Affordable, reliable, and accessible transportation options are critical to the success of integrating people with disabilities into our communities. It is not enough to address these pressing concerns on infrastructure without including in the discussion how we make transportation options fully accessible to our growing aging and disability community. Our state has set forth a mandate, through the DD/MH/SAS System Reform, that people with disabilities have the right to live where they choose, work where they chose, and have person centered options. If we are truly to commit to the success of this mandate we can not ignore the need for accessible transportation options. The discussion of accessible, affordable, and reliable transportation must also include a plan for our rural communities.
But transportation discussions are always complicated. The federal government continues to reduce funding, and the states are forced to fill in the gaps at great expense. But to people with disabilities, the cost of inaccessible transportation is even greater when it means the inability to secure an accessible home or employment. As a result of poor planning, the person with a disability is forced back into non inclusive environment. It is time for our leaders to build an accessible transportation system statewide.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Announcement: Disability Rights North Carolina (Formerly CLA and P&A) Listenting Forum

When: This Thursday, November 8, 2007 at 6:00pm
What: Disability Rights North Carolina, a group that advocates for people with disabilities, holds a listening session to determine the needs of North Carolina's disabled, 2626 Glenwood Ave., Suite 500, Raleigh. Contact: Allison Breedlove, 919-856-2195.

We encourage people with disabilities and their families to attend this event. Disability Rights North Carolina needs input on your priorities and what our community requires from the new P&A.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Announcement: 17th Annual Assistive Technology Expo

17th Annual
“AT In Action”
November 29-November 30, 2007
North Raleigh Hilton, Raleigh, NC

Learn how assistive technology can help make everyday activities easier.


Program Description
November 29 - The Exhibit Hall displays a wide range of adaptive products. The Exhibit Hall is open on from 9 am-4:30 pm on Thursday only, and there is no charge to visit the Exhibits.

Keynote Speaker: Dale Metz, Executive Director of the After Gateway Center. Be prepared to cry and laugh at the amazing stories of his special friends.

November 29 & 30 – Thirty-five (35) training sessions will be offered on Thursday and Friday. Training tracks cover a wide range of topics in the area of assistive technology. The complete schedule can be downloaded from

. Call 919-850-2787 to request an application or download from
Individuals may also register at the Expo Registration Desk on November 29th and 30th.

Announcement: The Arc of North Carolina is now on My Space

The Arc of North Carolina announces the creation of our My Space Group. We invite you to join our group and get invovled with discussions regarding policy that affect people with developmental and cognitive disabilities. To find our group click here:

Announcement: Health Care for All NC Regional Forums


Raleigh, NC — Health Care for All NC, along with co-sponsors, NC Community Health Center Association, NC Nurses Association and the NC Pediatric Society will hold a series of 3 regional forums to seek public input and active participation in the strong need for systemic change in our health care system.

Health Care for All is coming. Polls show that the public is strongly in favor of systemic change. Currently, only the health insurance industry is well funded and focused on influencing the outcome. The rest of us need to identify our priorities and speak with a unified voice. The time to begin these efforts is now. The most effective time to affect change is between General Assembly Sessions.

Who Should Attend:
§ Members of our sponsoring organizations
§ Members of the General Assembly
§ Local elected officials
§ Health care provider groups, local organizations, advocacy, labor and consumer groups with a history of involvement in health care reform.
§ Representatives from the Leagues of Municipalities and Chambers of Commerce

November 10 - Biltmore United Methodist Church, 376 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville
Speaker: Rep. Susan Fisher

November 17 - Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh
Speaker: Dr. Jane McCaleb

8:30 Registration
9:00 Opening Comments
9:30 Building Common Ground
12:00 Working lunch (included in $12 registration fee)
Summary of morning group discussions
Closing Comments
1:00 Meeting for participants interested in continued strategic and tactical activities
2:30 Close of Meeting on Strategic and Tactical Action

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poll Answer: Who is the first quadripegic to serve in the US Congress?

The answer to this weeks poll is U.S. Representative James Langevin. Representative Langevin represents Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional district. Read more about Representative Lagevin at

Monday Quick Hits: Policy Issues for the Week of November 7, 2007


On Wednesday November 7, 2007 the first 21st Century Transportation Committee meeting will be held in room 544 at 1:00pm. This committee was appointed to address infrastructure needs in our state. This committee was formed in lieu of having a special session to discuss transportation issues. Reliable, affordable and accessible transportation options are critical to the disability community.

Senate Appointments:
Mr. David Hoyle, Jr. , Sen. Samuel Clark Jenkins, Sen. Richard Yates Stevens, Hon. Terry Bellamy (Public Member), Mr. Richard Blackburn (Public Member), Hon. Rector Samuel Hunt, III (Public Member), Hon. Allen Joines (Public Member), Dr. Joseph Monroe (Public Member), Mr. Gregory B. Plemmons (Public Member), Mr. Billy Sewell (Public Member), Mr. Lanny Wilson (Public Member), Mr. Stephen P. Zelnak, Jr. (Public Member).
House Appointments:
Mr. J. Bradley Wilson (Chair), Rep. Becky Carney, Rep. Lorene Thomason Coates,Rep. E. Nelson Cole, Rep. Phillip Dean Frye, Rep. William C. McGee, Rep. William L. Wainwright, Mr. Charles F. Bowman (Public Member), Mr. Chuck McGrady (Public Member), Hon. George W. Miller, Jr. (Public Member), Ms. Nina S. Szlosberg (Public Member), Mr. David Jordan Whichard, lll (Public Member).

On Wednesday, November 7, 2007 there will be a public hearing on the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice in Raleigh.

Read more here:


Health Care:

On Thursday, by a vote of 64-30, the Senate passed a revised version of legislation (H.R. 3963) to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The House had passed an identical bill but failed to garner sufficient votes needed to override an expected Presidential veto. Senate leaders had hoped to delay their vote on the revised SCHIP bill to allow for continued negotiations between supporters in the Senate and GOP opponents in the House. Senate leaders were considering offering amendments to the revised SCHIP bill that would attract the support of additional Republican House members, but Senate opponents of the bill forced a vote without amendments.

Congressional leaders have agreed not to attempt an override of the revised SCHIP bill, but will instead continue to work with negotiators to reach a compromise on SCHIP reauthorization. H.R. 3963 contains a moratorium on proposed regulations to limit Medicaid’s rehabilitative services option and school based transportation for Medicaid eligible children receiving IDEA services until January 1, 2010.

Senate supporters of the SCHIP reauthorization and House Republican opponents will continue to negotiate in hopes of producing a compromise bill that will garner sufficient votes to override a Presidential veto without losing any votes from Democratic Members.


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), held a hearing that examined six proposed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) regulations. Several witnesses described the negative impact of the following proposed regulations – 1) a limitation on Medicaid’s rehabilitative services option; 2) a limitation on school based services for Medicaid eligible children receiving IDEA services; 3) a limitation on transportation for Medicaid eligible children receiving IDEA services, 4) a limit on the services states can cover under Medicaid outpatient programs; 5) elimination of Medicaid payments for graduate medical education, and 6) a limitation on how states can generate funds to pay for their share of Medicaid matching funds. The Arc and UCP strongly oppose these regulatory changes.

Dennis Smith, CMS Director for Medicaid and State Operations, testified that some states are pushing the envelope and billing services to Medicaid that are not considered allowable under the program.


The ADA Restoration Act (H.R.3195 and S. 1881) continues to move forward. The House has added three new cosponsors for a total of 236. Meanwhile, Senate leadership staff met with members of the Disability Policy Collaboration and other CCD members to prepare for an upcoming push. The DPC continues to meet with Senate and House staff to offer a thorough understanding of the need to protect the employment of people with disabilities, dispel concerns raised by opposition, and maintain momentum during what is expected to be a long, uphill battle.

Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations:
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on the conference report on the FY 2008 appropriations bill for the Departments of L-HHS-ED. Should the conference report on the Labor-HHS-Ed appropriations bill be passed in the House, the Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week. House and Senate Democratic leadership have yet to announce a final strategy on which appropriations bills, singly or in combination, to send to the President for his signature or veto.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


The U.S. Senate passes the new compromise State Children's Health Insurance Plan legislation. The vote was 64 in favor of the bill and 30 votes against. H.R. 3963 passed the House last week. President Bush has stated that he will veto this bill.

The new SCHIP legislation includes the following:
*States will not be able to use SCHIP money to cover children in families with incomes above 300 percent of the federal poverty level. (New Jersey, the only state covering children up to 350 percent of the poverty line, will be temporarily allowed to continue.)
* Coverage of childless adults will be phased out in one year (the original bill allowed two years).
*All states must develop plans to minimize the shift from private insurance coverage (for example, providing bonuses to states that help parents pay for child coverage they receive through their employer).
*Bonuses to states will be targeted at enrolling the poorest children in Medicaid.
*States must verify citizenship status; no federal funds may be used to cover undocumented immigrants.
*CMS Moratorium language is included in this compromise legislation. This is important to children with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

How did our North Carolina Senators vote?
Senator Elizabeth Dole and Senator Richard Burr both voted nay.