Public Policy for the People: February 17, 2020
Volume 6, Issue 3 • 2020 Legislative Session • February 17, 2020
Hello, advocates! We are back with the third issue of our 2020 Public Policy for the People, GCDD's public policy newsletter. This electronic-only newsletter goes out approximately every other week during the legislative session.
This week's newsletter is all about home and community-based services (HCBS)! As session is still adjourned until tomorrow, and our HCBS Advocacy Day is Wednesday, we are focusing on all things HCBS, including HCBS budget, state policy, and federal policy issues.
Continue reading to stay up-to-date on what's happening in the 2020 legislative session, and how you can be involved.
Alyssa Lee, PsyD, Public Policy Research and Development Director
Charlie Miller, Legislative Advocacy Director
HCBS: What They are and Why They Matter
Home and Community Based Services assist people
with disabilities to live inclusive lives in their communities. These services are delivered through a waiver system because traditional Medicaid does not pay for these services to be provided in the community, although Medicaid will pay for similar services to be provided in institutional settings. Because people
with disabilities have a legal right to live in their communities, states use a waiver system to provide the services. Some of Georgia's waivers go by the names NOW/COMP, ICWP, and SOURCE. So what do these waivers do? They:
- support people to live in a group home, with a roommate or on their own (rather than a nursing home or institution)
- help people find and keep jobs through supported employment services
- provide for physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as behavioral supports
- pay for personal care attendants to assist people with disabilities with bathing, dressing, eating, and getting to work
Although HCBS waivers allow people with disabilities to live independent lives in their communities, many people are waiting for a waiver. Right now, over 6,000 Georgians with disabilities are on a waitlist, and many people have been waiting for a waiver for over 10 years! Not only will new waivers assist people with disabilities to live independently, they will also:
- create jobs and pump money back into local economies
- save taxpayer money, as HCBS waivers, on average, cost less than institutional settings
- Keep families out of crisis through respite care and assisting families in keeping their jobs
HCBS: What's in the Budget
Governor Kemp released his budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021), and, for the FIRST time since the creation of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), the Governor has recommended that ZERO new NOW/COMP waivers be created. This position marks the first time in over a decade that Georgia’s Governor has not attempted to shorten the waiver waitlist by introducing new waiver slots.
The members of the Senate Appropriations Human Development and Public Health Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Human Resources Subcommittee need to hear from you!
When you reach out, make sure to:
- Introduce yourself and let them know if you live in their district
- Tell them why you are calling (e.g., I am calling to discuss the lack of NOW/COMP waiver slots in the Governor’s recommended budget)
- Tell them why this is important to you (e.g., I am on the waitlist, my family member/friend is waiting for services, etc.)
- Tell them what you would like them to do (e.g., I would like you to include the addition of new waiver slots in the budget)
- Thank them for their time!
Human Development and Public Health Subcommittee
Human Resources Subcommittee
HCBS: Attend GCDD's Advocacy Day
Although our HCBS Advocacy Day, this WEDNESDAY, February 19th, is technically sold out, there are many ways you can still participate!
- Stopping by the Central Presbyterian Church at 10am, and we will make sure you receive the HCBS One Pager to go "work the ropes" at the Capitol
- Calling and/or emailing your representative and senator on the 19th to tell them your thoughts on the NOW/COMP waivers
- Participating on social media on the 19th by posting HCBS information on your Facebook and/or Twitter and tagging your representative and senator
Find your state legislator
Federal Update: HCBS Infrastructure Improvement Act
On February 12, 2020, Senator Casey (D-PA) introduced the HCBS Infrastructure Improvement Act (S. 3277
). This legislation would allow states to apply for a one-time, 7-year grant which would provide federal dollars to the state to work on improving their HCBS delivery systems. States could use the funds to improve services and/or shrink their waitlist! This type of funding could greatly improve the current state of Georgia's home and community based services.
Contact Georgia's US Senators to discuss their co-sponsorship of the HCBS Infrastructure Improvement Act!
Looking Ahead: Advocacy Days are Here!
Public Policy for the People e-newsletter is distributed every other week during the State of Georgia's legislative session. The next publication dates are March 2, March 16, March 30 and April 13.
Join us on February 24, March 23, and April 6 for our Public Policy for the People Calls. Dial-in: 1-605-475-4063; Code: 737091
Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy