Leo’s Letter: This Week in Disability Policy
- Nationally, the spotlight on food stamps continues, as the House once again attempts to reduce SNAP. The program, through states, helps people with disabilities and families who don’t have enough food.
- Statewide, we have over $5 million in services at stake as the Conference Committee debates the final budget. These resources directly affect people’s ability to obtain employment, family supports, and adult family/foster care.
- MassHealth changes are also in process and coming soon.
The Arc has tried to help people directly (through advocacy) and indirectly (through information) to address the massive change affecting 1,178,906 people through the introduction of private health plans for obtaining MassHealth funded health care. Active plan choosers – individuals who evaluated which plan may be the right fit for them – totaled near 20%. What worries us, therefore, is the number of people who were automatically enrolled into plans and may have to find new specialists for their chronic conditions.
What we have discovered in the past several weeks is that some specialty health practices terminated their patients based on their enrollment in a different health plan. The specialty practices had not been informed by their health system that exceptions are allowed for people with disabilities. We have no handle on how many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are affected by this transition, as many are not on the Dept. of Developmental Services caseload. Many may have simply accepted the termination of services by these providers of care.
On the horizon is the expansion of One Care. This change could affect many people with I/DD who receive DDS services, as they tend to have both Medicare and MassHealth plans. New health plans will join One Care with the goal of expanding One Care from about 17,000 people to 100,000 people.
We are working with other organizations to impact how MassHealth manages the new roll out. Stay connected with us – not only to keep up with information, but hopefully to help advocate for what’s right for you, for your family, or for your friends.
Leo V. Sarkissian