The Arc of Illinois Weekly Update #2

Wage/Rate Increase Update and Clarification
On Friday, I shared that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had approved the 3.5% rate increase retroactive to July 1.  ICFDDs once approved will be retroactive to August 1 per the budget bill.  Director Stark indicated she is hoping to have the Q&A done this week, which will clarify how the rate change, new funding to address additional minimum wage increase and homebased implementation of the rate increase will occur.  In a Ligas Court filing by the State, the State not only reports to the Judge that the 3.5% increase for community providers has been approved by CMS and can be applied retroactively, but the State is also committing to filing with CMS an amendment to the DD waiver for a rate increase to $13/hour by 12/2/19.  Check out the court filing here.

Chicago Introduces Ordinance that would include End to Subminimum Wage
Yesterday, a proposed “management ordinance” for Chicago’s city budget was introduced in our City Council that has components related to phasing in a $15 min wage citywide.  It includes a piece that would phase out subminimum wage in Chicago over the next 4 years and bring disability minimum wage in line with everyone else.  The bill includes a full elimination of the subminimum wage by July 1, 2024.  At that point, Chicago will no longer accept subminimum wage through 14 c certificates as valid.  A key hearing is Nov 18, final vote is Nov 26. 
ACTION: If you or someone you know would like to testify about community employment and subminimum wage, please call Meg at 773-558-5136 or email at meg@thearcofil.org.  If you live in Chicago, please consider reaching out to your alderman on this point. If this bill passes, there could be a great opportunity to being together disability advocates, service providers, city and state government and other funders to ensure that the less than 1,000 people still in subminimum wage would receive the transition planning and supported employment services needed to find competitive integrated employment and/or meaningful day activities.

Joint Hearing on Subminimum Wage and Good Will
This comes on the heels of yesterday’s House and Senator Human Services Joint Hearing on subminimum wage and specifically the Land of Lincoln Good Will.  Kim Mercer-Schleider, Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities Director, among other administration staff spoke about subminimum wage. The Council believes the state must move away from subminimum wage.  CMS, DOL and DHS were also present and talked about the facts of subminimum wage in Illinois.  CMS talked about the state use contracts and DHS and CMS spoke about the Land of Lincoln Good Will.  The Arc submitted general testimony regarding these issues.

Supportive Housing Hearing
Last week, the Senate Human Services Committee held a hearing regarding expanding supportive housing options for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Here is the Arc’s testimony. Kim Mercer- Schleider from the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, Vincent Smith and Teresa Park, both Council members and Allison Stark, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities spoke about their experiences in Missouri as well as personal experiences with supportive housing.  Committee members continue to be interested in exploring how we can increase access to affordable supportive housing to provide a more diverse set of options for people with I/DD.

Major Events Ahead
Tax: Advocates Host Call-In Day for ABLE Age Adjustment Act
On Thursday, November 14, The Arc and partner organizations will host a call-in day in support of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act. For the past five years, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts have allowed millions of people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing access to needed benefits. However, millions of people aren’t eligible because they did not acquire their disability before age 26. The ABLE Age Adjustment Act would raise the maximum age from before 26 to before 46, making six million additional people eligible. As a result, ABLE programs will become more solvent. To RSVP or find more information, visit the event Facebook page. You can also tweet at your members using this link.

Senators Join Effort to Raise the SSI Asset Limit
This is great news as the income and asset limits for SSI and SSDI are great barriers to employment.  More to come on advocacy opportunities related to this.

Announcements
Health/Rights: NCD Releases Report on Quality-Adjusted Life Years On November 6, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report titled “Quality-Adjusted Life Years and the Devaluation of Life with Disability.” The report details the use of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) in the evaluation of treatment coverage. QALYs are based on the premise that the value of one year of the life of a person with a disability is less than the value of one year of the life of a person without a disability. The report recommends, among other things, prohibiting the use of QALYs in Medicare and Medicaid.