Protect Medicaid – Give 5 minutes

The Graham-Cassidy bill is gaining momentum in the Senate. This effort to repeal insurance protections includes cuts to Medicaid that will be devastating to people with disabilities. Avalere study shows impact of the bill will result in 15% cut in funding for people with disabilities and 31% cut for children.

It’s essential that individuals, family members, friends, and advocates make their voices heard NOW.

Please take a few minutes today to call your U.S. Representative here particularly if it’s one of these Representatives:

Personal Story

Personal stories are the most effective form of advocacy. Talk about why is Medicaid important to you.

  • If you or a family member are on Medicaid (including a waiver), what are the most important services to you? What difference has that made in yours and/or your family member’s lives?
    • Access to critical healthcare or therapies
    • Ability to receive in-home supports, residential supports or live independently
    • Ability to work or go to a day program (so your family can work)
  • What was your and/or your family member’s lives like before receiving Medicaid services?
  • Are you or a family member on a waitlist for Medicaid services? How would getting services make a difference in your lives?

Or consider using this easy script.

Talking Points

  1. The latest healthcare bill being considered by the Senate, the Graham-Cassidy proposal, would restructure Medicaid through per capita caps and would lead to devastating cuts in Medicaid.
  2. The Graham-Cassidy bill would reduce federal funding to states resulting in a 15% decrease of Medicaid spending for people with disabilities and a 31% decrease of Medicaid spending for children.
  3. 11 million people with disabilities rely on Medicaid for critical services that help them live and participate in their community.
    • Ex: nursing and personal care services, specialized therapies, intensive behavioral health services, special education services, employment supports, and other needed services that are unavailable through private insurance.
  4. Proposed cuts to Medicaid is already forcing WA to reduce services, cut optional services, restrict eligibility, and increase waiting lists.
  5. People with disabilities will be disproportionally harmed by Medicaid cuts.  Care for people with disabilities makes up a significant part of state Medicaid budgets due to their long term care needs.
  6. The home and community based services (HCBS) on which people with disabilities rely to live and participate in their communities are especially at risk because they are optional and could be completely eliminated.
  7. The Graham-Cassidy bill ends an important program for home and community based services (called Community First Choice) while at the same time requiring states to maintain funding for institutions.
  8. The bill also would allow states to waive the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions (including people with disabilities) and the requirement for plans to cover “essential health benefits” that help people with disabilities, like behavioral health and neurodevelopment services.
  9. Please oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill or any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid, cuts healthcare for people with disabilities, and does not protect people with pre-existing conditions.
  10. Instead work in a bi-partisan fashion to protect and improve access to healthcare

WAAA teams up with King County Best Starts for Kids

In the latest round of initiatives, today King County announced partnerships with organizations in the community to help build student resilience and mental health support. Through King County’s Best Starts for Kids, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy has been awarded a grant to bring two IDEA: Blueprints to Special Education workshops to parents and educators across King County.

Empowering Parental Advocacy

 

These workshops cover the legal rights and options that parents, advocates, and educators must know to ensure that students receive the services they need to succeed and thrive in school. Presented by experts in special education law, the workshops provide information on state and federal laws regulating special education, IEP, and 504 Plans.

Strengthening parent knowledge of special education options empowers parents to participate as equal members of their child’s IEP team. These workshops will empower parents and strengthen relationships between families, students, and their schools, fostering equitable opportunities for students with special needs to grow academic and life skills.

The first BSK-funded IDEA: Blueprints to Special Education Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, October 21st from 9:30 – 3:30 at Garfield Community Center. To get on an early-registration list, please contact us via email, info@washingtonautismadvocacy.org or phone at 425-894-7231.

 

 

Hurricane Harvey Help – Keep calm & stay Texas Strong!

In the aftermath of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, many of us are looking to provide support to loved ones, friends and family in hard hit areas. We’ve consulted the Greater Houston Autism Coalition hoping to identify nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that are providing relief to those with autism and other developmental disabilities.  Here are some NPOs the coalition is recommending and what we know about them:

  • Including Kids in Kingwood is accepting donations to help InKids families with Hurricane relief. The Kingwood area has been very hard hit. They have a link on their website.
  • Hope for Three Autism Advocates  in Fort Bend, another hard hit area, have provided a lot of help for families of kids with autism prior to Hurricane Harvey and come highly recommended as a trusted organization.
  • The Arc of Greater Houston is also involved in helping people with disabilities through this disaster. They have a donation button on their website.
  • Family to Family Network is also very involved in meeting needs in relief efforts.
    Houston Special Needs Help is another group that looks to be working hard on relief efforts.

If you are looking to donate to help Texans out, these organizations are collecting gift cards and cash donation. Gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, Kohls etc. would be greatly appreciated.

In closing, we are grateful and amazed at the selfless service of so many! From people bringing their personal boats to help rescue, news crews from outside Houston coming to help Channel 11 when they had to evacuate, Navy from several states, the army reserve, Coast Guard, Police and other first responders, 911 operators and local grocery and drug store chain, HEB, with their mobile kitchens and so much more. Humanity should be like this every day!


This is what true heroes look like

Paraeducator bill needs your help – Calls needed

Paraeducators provide over 62 percent of instructional time to Washington’s opportunity gap students, including students with disabilities. However, paraeducators receive minimal training (0.05 percent of statewide instructional professional development hours) and there are no professional qualifications or standards.  (ParaeducatorOnePage Fact Sheet). PLEASE give us 5 minutes on Monday to support these professionals who spend considerable time assisting students with special needs. Phone calls and emails are needed to the following representatives listed below. If you live in one of the districts listed please call your own district’s representative.

If you’re not sure what to say try:

My name is _______ and I am your constituent. SB 5070 Concerning paraeducators is important to me and my family. Paraeducators deliver over 60% of all instruction to students in the opportunity gap, including students with disabilities. They are an essential link between students and successful learning. Paraeducators want and deserve professional development, standards, and a more accessible path to teacher certification. I believe that students with autism  should be taught by trained and highly qualified educators, and that’s why I urge your support of SB 5070. I appreciate your ongoing support of my family, and hope I can count on you  and move the bill out of the committee quickly. Thank you!

Please be polite, ask the legislative aide to let you know after your representative has agreed to support SB 5070. If the person on the phone asks questions you don’t have an answer to, please refer them to Doug Nelson, 206.919.8581

Thank you for standing together with us for change.
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Committee Members

Representative(dist. #) Email Phone
Santos, Sharon Tomiko (37)
Chair
SharonTomiko.Santos@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7944
Dolan, Laurie (22)
Vice Chair
Laurie.Dolan@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7940
Stonier, Monica Jurado (49)
Vice Chair
Monica.Stonier@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7872
Harris, Paul (17)
Ranking Minority Member
Paul.Harris@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7976
Muri, Dick (28)
Asst Ranking Minority Member
Dick.Muri@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7890
Bergquist, Steve (11) Steve.Bergquist@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7862
Caldier, Michelle (26) Michelle.Caldier@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7802
Hargrove, Mark (47) Mark.Hargrove@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7918
Johnson, Norm (14) Norm.Johnson@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7810
Kilduff, Christine (28) Christine.Kilduff@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7958
Lovick, John (44) John.Lovick@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7804
McCaslin, Bob (4) Bob.McCaslin@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7820
Ortiz-Self, Lillian (21) Lillian.Ortiz-Self@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7972
Senn, Tana (41) Tana.Senn@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7894
Slatter, Vandana (48) Vandana.Slatter@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7936
Springer, Larry (45) Larry.Springer@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7822
Steele, Mike (12) mike.steele@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7832
Stokesbary, Drew (31) Drew.Stokesbary@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7846
Volz, Mike (6) Mike.Volz@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7922

 

Paraeducators Need Career Training and Support

Paraeducators provide over 62 percent of instructional time to Washington’s opportunity gap students, including students with disabilities. However, paraeducators receive minimal training (0.05 percent of statewide instructional professional development hours) and there are no professional qualifications or standards.  (ParaeducatorOnePage Fact Sheet)

ACT NOW to support these professionals who spend considerable time assisting students with special needs. SB 5070 / HB 1115, CONCERNING PARAEDUCATORS has a House Committee hearing at 8:00 am, Thursday, January 26.

Ways to support this bill:

  1. Call members of the hearing committee (links below). Tell them why this matters to you. Be sure to note if you are a constituent from their district.
  2. Provide your comments via the leg.wa.gov website (this goes to your legislator):
    –  search for bill by entering bill number into “search” bar
    – click “Comment on this bill” using the button in right column
    – fill out form to comment on bill
    – you can also select to follow this bill from this page
  3. Email written testimony to your Representative/Senator, committee members, and CC their legislative aides. The standard email format is: FirstName.LastName@leg.wa.gov
  4. Attend and testify at the hearing or sign in in support
  5. Tell 10 people you know about the bill and urge them to support it (or share via social media)

Contact Susan Steckler, Susan@WashingtonAutismAdvocacy.org if you need support regarding this bill.

Be an Agent for Change

Students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended as students without disabilities.

Stand together to eliminate suspensions and expulsions for kindergarten and early elementary students. TAKE ACTION to help advance SB 5155 at a hearing on January 23 at 1:30 before the State Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee. The bill would prohibit schools from suspending students in grades K-2, require schools to develop policies and procedures to support students in meeting behavioral expectations, and encourage schools to use evidence-based programs to support students in meeting behavioral expectations.

 

You can do four things to support this bill:

  1. Call members of the committee on Monday 1/23 to urge them to vote the bill out of committee. Contact information is available HEREYou can also email committee members.
  2. Submit written testimony to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
  3. Attend and testify in person or sign in in support at the hearing on Monday.
  4. Tell 10 people you know about the bill and urge them to support it.

Information via: Vanessa Torres Hernandez, Youth Policy Director, ACLU of Washington

SB5155 K-2 Fact Sheet

IMPORTANT: 2016 OSPI SATISFACTION SURVEY OF BELLEVUE, LWSD & Mercer Island students w/IEP’s

The Special Education section of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is surveying all families in Bellevue and Lake Washington School Districts whose children are on IEPs. The survey is being conducted by a department of Washington State University on behalf of OSPI. If you have recently received a letter from WSU’s Social and Economic Research Center (SERC) addressed “to the parents of <your child’s name>”, this is the 2016 OSPI Special Education Satisfaction Survey. It is critical that as many families as possible return this survey because the information gathered will be used by both state and federal agencies to improve services for IEP families.

If you or someone you know lost or recycled their survey by accident, there is a way to get a new copy. Send the student’s name to valerie.arnold@k12.wa.us with the subject line “Request Replacement Copy for Parent Survey”, and a new copy will be mailed to you. There are only a few weeks left in the survey window, so it is important to do this and return the survey as soon as possible. You can also send a request to the same email to receive a copy of the completed survey results. If you or someone you know needs a translation of the survey, please call the WSU SERC at 1-800-833-0867.

The more feedback we give, the greater chance for positive change for our children. Please share this information with your friends and on social media to help get the word out about this important survey.

T-Mobile to start Autism ABA benefit

T-Mobile just announced they will be expanding their autism health benefits to include Applied Behavior Analysis (see announcement below).  We would very much like to know if similar positive changes are happening in other self-funded plans administered through United Health Care (UHC).  Please let us know.

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T-Mobile Expands Autism Benefit

If you or a family member have an autism diagnosis and you’re currently enrolled in a UnitedHealthCare medical plan, we have some good news. Beginning July 15, 2015, we’re expanding our existing autism benefit to now cover Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services.

Did you receive ABA services in 2015?

If you’re currently enrolled in a UnitedHealthCare plan and you or a covered family member received ABA services between January 1 and July 15 of this year, those claims may now be covered under the new autism benefit. Contact United Behavioral Health (UBH) at 1-800-788-5614 and they’ll help you determine if you have coverage for ABA services received this year.

Not enrolled in a UHC plan?

Eligible employees who want to take advantage of this new autism benefit can enroll in a UnitedHealthCare plan by contacting the Benefits Center at 1-855-TMO-BENS (1-855-866-2367). New enrollments for UnitedHealthCare plans will be accepted through July 31, 2015. New enrollees will have the new autism benefit beginning on the effective date of their enrollment.

Questions?

For questions or details on how to obtain this enhanced ABA benefit and/or submit a claim for ABA services, call UBH at 1-800-788-5614. Please note that you must contact UBH to coordinate care prior to receiving covered ABA services on a going-forward basis.

For more details about this and other benefits, you can also refer to the applicable plan documents and summary plan description, which are available on Your Benefits Resources at t-mobilebenefits.com or by contacting the T-Mobile Benefits Center at 1-855-866-2367.

SHB 1240 needs your help – Calls needed

A problematic amendment by Senator Benton got tacked on and passed in the 11th hour onto SHB 1240 – restraint and seclusion of  students with disabilities. The Benton Amendment was ruled beyond the scope and object of SHB 1240.  The House refused to concur in Senate amendment and has asked Senate to recede from amendments.

Phone calls and emails are needed to the following senators listed below.  If you live in one of the districts listed please your own district’s Senator.  If you’re not sure what to say try:

“My name is _______ and I am your constituent.  SHB 1240 regarding restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities is important to me and my family.  I appreciate your ongoing support of regulating restraint and isolation practices in Washington state, and hope I can count on you again to remove the problematic amendment added by Senator Benton and move the bill out of the senate quickly.  Thank you!”.

Please be polite, ask the legislative aide to let you know after your senator has agreed to recede the Benton amendment. If the person on the phone asks questions you don’t have an answer to, please refer them to Ben Buccholz (509) 303-9585 or Arzu Forough (425)590-7231.

Thank you for standing together with us for change.
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(legislative District/Senator/Phone number/Email address)

17 Benton, Don (360) 786-7632 don.benton@leg.wa.gov
31 Roach, Pam – President Pro Tempore (360) 786 – 7660 pam.roach@leg.wa.gov
9 Schoesler, Mark – Majority Leader (360) 786 – 7620 mark.schoesler@leg.wa.gov
41 Litzow, Steve (360) 786 – 7641 steve.litzow@leg.wa.gov
25 Dammeier, Bruce (360) 786-7648 bruce.dammeier@leg.wa.gov
1 McAuliffe, Rosemary (360) 786-7600 rosemary.mcauliffe@leg.wa.gov
3 Billig, Andy (360) 786-7604 andy.billing@leg.wa.gov
47 Fain, Joe (360) 786-7692 joe.fain@leg.wa.gov
45 Hill, Andy (360) 786-7672 andy.hill@leg.wa.gov
5 Mullet, Mark (360) 786-7608 mark.mullet@leg.wa.gov
18 Rivers, Ann (360) 786-7634 ann.rivers@leg.wa.gov
23 Rolfes, Christine (360) 786-7644 christine.rolfes@leg.wa.gov

 

VOTE YES – SHB 1240 – regarding seclusion & restraints of students in public schools

“Every child in the state of Washington should be able to go to school every day without fear of being harmed,” – State Rep. Gerry Pollet said. “The unfortunate reality is that too many students in special education programs fear having their behavior corrected with the use of restraints and isolation. We can do better. An education plan should emphasize positive interventions that are proven to work.”

SHB 1240 passed 68-29 with bipartisan support.

This bill would end the planned use of restraint and isolation as a part of the individualized education plans for students with disabilities, in addition it would protect students from restraint and isolation except in very limited instances where there’s imminent risk of harm.

SHB 1240 passed Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee unanimously last week.  We now urge ALL senators to  VOTE YES on SHB 1240.  Please take a few minutes to call YOUR senator.  You can find their contact information here.

If you’re looking for what to say try:

If you’re looking for what to say, consider:
“Hello, my name is (____________). I’m a parent of a child with autism. Regulating seclusion and restraints of students is very important to me and my family. This issue is also a priority for Washington State PTA.  I am asking you to please consider supporting this bill. Thank you very much.”

Please be polite, ask the legislative aide to let you know after your senator has agreed to vote in support of SHB 1240. If the person on the phone asks questions you don’t have an answer to, please refer them to Ben Buccholz (509) 303-9585 or Arzu Forough (425)590-7231.

Thank you for standing together with us for change.

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Restraint and Seclusion Legislative Summary (2-sided)