General Assembly Budget Update and Action Alert!

Members of Triangle Chapters plus Nancy LaCross, Autism Resource Specialist; Tracey Sheriff, CEO; and Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, at the Autism Awareness Day June 3.

Members of Triangle Chapters plus Nancy LaCross, Autism Resource Specialist; Tracey Sheriff, CEO; and Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, at the Autism Awareness Day on June 3.

Last week, the NC Senate passed a budget adjustments bill that proposes cuts to teacher’s assistants, other school funds, and Medicaid, including the cutting of so-called “optional populations,” such as those eligible for Special Assistance and the medically needy. See our previous post for details on the proposal.

In short, these cuts would be devastating for people with disabilities, including people with autism. Many people with disabilities are considered “optional” populations, and states are not required to cover them under Medicaid. Services such as Innovations/CAP and ICF-MRs are also optional services to offer under Medicaid; thousands could lose coverage with these proposals. North Carolina has taken a wise path and offered supports, services, and care that elderly and disabled folks can receive at home and in their communities. The Senate’s budget ignores the need for ongoing services as well as crisis services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Schools are already struggling to educate students with autism. Under the current budget and with this proposal, schools would do so with fewer teaching assistants and other resources.

The Senate budget has some good things, including a request to NC DHHS to plan for 3,000 “supports” waiver slots similar to Innovations and CAP as well as teacher raises to allow us to hire and retain quality teachers. We appreciate these additions, but not at the expense of those with disabilities.

There is still time to stop these cuts!

The NC House must propose its version of the budget adjustments bill and is working on a plan right now. Ask representatives to stop these cuts and provide better services and education for people on the autism spectrum!

  1. Call your own NC House representative and ask him or her to stop these cuts. You can find out who represents you and how to contact him or her on the top map at this link.
  2. Attend our second Awareness and Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly on Tuesday, June 10. Talk with representatives about the budget and senators about autism insurance! Details are posted on our website. Please RSVP, so we can plan for your attendance!

Talking Points

Here are some talking points for you to use as a starting point for your calls and emails about the state budget. Your own language and story are most effective in talking with legislators, so please feel free to adjust these points.

Education: High quality and adequately compensated teachers should be a priority, especially for special education. Many students on the autism spectrum are mainstreamed into regular classrooms: Removing teaching assistants means less support in the classroom.

Early Intervention/CDSAs: Do not close four CDSAs. Restore funding so children with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities can get the early help they need.

Wait List/Waiver Slots: We support the need for additional Medicaid waiver slots for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and the provision asking the DHHS to submit a plan to open more slots.

Crisis: People with autism need crisis services and the budget should fund community-based crisis services for people with autism and IDD.

Medicaid: Do not cut people on special assistance and the medically needy from Medicaid. People will lose services and the place they live. Private health plans do not pay for these services.

Medicaid: The Senate budget proposes to end “optional” Medicaid services. ALL services for people with autism and IDD are considered optional by the federal government but are critically important for people. Do not end optional services.

Medicaid and Managed Care: The IDD Medicaid system is already under managed care. Any further changes to the Medicaid system need to include independent case management and the involvement of families and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Your advocacy matters! For more information about the North Carolina General Assembly, budget cuts, or other public policy issues, sign up for our Policy Pulse newsletter.

If you have questions about this post or other public policy issues, contact Jennifer Mahan, Autism Society of North Carolina Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5068.

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