Make an Impact with 2 Simple Words

This holiday season, you can make an impact with 2 simple words: Thank you.

Especially if you’re a Medicaid recipient, let the people in charge know that we need Medicaid, and let them know what it does for us. Tell them thank you, and ask them to keep directing funding to Medicaid. Send them a photo of the person who is helped by Medicaid.

This is what advocacy is. It’s so easy! Just speak up for what matters to you.

Here’s how:

Email DHS Director Gillespie

Email Governor Hutchinson:

other contact: governor.arkansas.gov/online-services/contact-us

Email any State Congressperson

Contact any Federal Congressman

Contact any elected official

ARChoices Update

Here’s the latest on what has been happening with ARChoices directly from our friends at Legal Aid:

(1) Second Legislative Hearing. When I last wrote, the Public Health committee of the legislature gave the RUGs algorithm an “unfavorable” review, meaning that the committee did not like it. The RUGs then went before the Rules and Regulations subcommittee. This subcommittee can only disapprove a regulation in narrow circumstances, so the RUGs was approved as a short-term measure to allow DHS to give attendant care to new applicants and to make new determinations for people up for reassessment. But, the chairperson said this:
The RUGs has not proven to be holistic in assessing the needs of the patients. Your presence here today has not fallen on deaf ears and, moving forward, because of your intense pressure, it is duly noted that RUGs is not the system we want serving the needs of Arkansans with disabilities. I believe it would be fair to say that you have the attention and the ears of the legislative branch to assure that your needs are moving forward. While we may not agree 100% on everything, the one thing we know is we can’t stay where we are. And while this process continues out after we do our duty today, then we will work to make sure that we don’t revisit this chapter again.
Even though RUGs was approved, the statement is great news for people hurt by the RUGs. Even if RUGs comes back in the short-term (it might not; see below for updates on the court case), it looks like the legislature won’t allow it to go on beyond December or early 2019. And, the public, media, and legislature will all take a close look at whatever new system DHS eventually comes up with. Personally, it was especially inspiring to see all the people most affected and their families come out and speak at the public forums or at the legislature, offer written comments, and lead the public effort (Legal Aid didn’t organize it).  And, this would not have happened without all the thoughtful and caring providers and other advocates who stepped up. It’s been wonderful to work with everyone.
(2) New System. DHS kept talking about a new system it would implement as of 1/1/19. DHS said that it would start the public comment process on 10/1/18. As of today, nothing has been published about it. Legal Aid will let everyone know when the official proposed rule comes out. The unofficial drafts we’ve seen suggest that it might be easier to understand than RUGs, but the unofficial drafts make it seem unlikely the new system will offer enough care hours for the patients with the highest needs.
(3) Court Case. Because the legislature approved the RUGs, DHS was going to start using it again as of yesterday. DHS asked the court to remove the injunction that stops them from doing that. DHS claims that it followed the proper process to adopt the rule. Today, Legal Aid, on behalf of our plaintiffs, filed an objection and asked the judge to keep the injunction in place (it is attached if you want to read the full legal document). DHS’s public comment process appears to be a sham. 43 different people criticized the RUGs for allowing inadequate care and not taking into account a nurse or doctor opinion in making hour determinations. They offered concrete ideas about alternatives. DHS didn’t even try to address the criticisms or alternatives, which the law requires it to do. Only 1 person was fully supportive of RUGs.
Our filing means that people who have applied for ARChoices services may be further delayed in getting them. DHS keeps saying that it has no lawful way to allocate attendant care, but we disagree and keep arguing that DHS can use the system of nurse discretion in place before RUGs. We are very sympathetic to the people who are waiting on services and understand they are caught up in this. However, Legal Aid has a duty to serve our clients. All of our plaintiffs (and many other clients) have been cut by the RUGs in the past. And, because DHS hasn’t been able to re-assess them for two years, they could be first in line for re-assessment. We tried to negotiate with DHS to get a formal, written agreement to ensure our clients would be safe, but DHS would not do anything formal. We had to file this objection to try to protect our plaintiffs. We have another legal case pending that could get the assessments and allocations started again with nurse discretion and will continue pursuing that option.

Contact:

Kevin De Liban, Attorney
Economic Justice Practice Group Leader
Legal Aid of Arkansas–West Memphis
310 Mid-Continent Plaza, Suite 420
West Memphis, AR 72301
Phone: (870) 732-6370 x. 2206

How to Best Communicate with Legislators

read the artic

If you can’t see the graphic above, you can read the article.

Take Action: June Legislative Committee Meetings

Update (6/5/18): The rules were approved in the Public Health joint committee and will be next voted upon by the ALC Rules & Regulations Joint Committee on Tuesday, June 12 at 1pm in Little Rock. Contact the committee members. Read below to catch up if you wonder which issues are being voted upon.


Original post: MSL has announced on Facebook that this committee meeting would be occurring on June 4th and that it was moved to Jonesboro. Here is some information to help you to understand what’s happening when, and what you need to do.

If you’re lost and need to catch up, you can watch a video we previously released on the subject.

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Several important issues are being discussed that affect children as well as adults:

Here is how you can contact the people of the Public Health Committee:

2018 Election Info

It’s election season! In fact, early voting for primaries has begun. That means it’s time for you to do some homework and make decisions about which issues are most important to you. Sometimes your values on different issues may clash, which is why it’s important to rank one of them as most important to you.

Medicaid is a hot topic. We’ve seen a lot of change, and depending on the officials we elect, we may see even more. That’s why it’s important to be informed about election deadlines, requirements, and the candidates.


Your first question might be:

Who’s running?

Click here to find out.


Next you’re probably asking:

What are the deadlines?

Elections for the office of Arkansas House of Representatives will take place soon!

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018.
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • primary runoff election – June 19, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

All 100 House seats are up for election in 2018. Arkansas state representatives serve two-year terms, with all seats up for election every two years.

Elections for the office of Arkansas State Senate are also happening soon.

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018,
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • primary runoff election – June 19, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

A total of 18 seats out of the chamber’s 35 seats are up for election in 2018.Arkansas state senators serve one two-year term and two four-year terms each decade.

Arkansas will also hold elections for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Treasurer on November 6, 2018. The candidate filing deadline was March 1, 2018.

The 2018 U.S. House of Representatives will hold elections

  • candidate filing deadline – March 1, 2018,
  • primary election – May 22, 2018.
  • general election – November 6, 2018.

Arkansans elect representatives to the U.S. House, one from each of the state’s four congressional districts.


How can I be informed about the candidates?

As candidates are campaigning, make sure you take every opportunity to inform yourself. Know what questions to ask!


Have I met the requirements to vote?

Voter Registration

To register to vote in Arkansas you should provide one of the following:

  • The Last Four Digits of your Social Security Number
  • Your Arkansas Driver’s License Number

If you do not have any of these IDs, you can provide a copy of one of the following with your registration application:

  • Current and Valid Photo ID
  • Government Issued Document that shows your current name and address
  • Utility Bill
  • Government Check
  • Bank Statement
  • Paycheck that Shows your current name and address

You can alternatively provide one of these documents when you vote to complete your registration.

Voting In-Person

In Arkansas, you need to show a valid ID to vote. You can use any ID from this list:

  • Paycheck that shows your Current Name and Address
  • Current and Valid Photo ID
  • Utility Bill
  • Bank Statement
  • Government Check
  • Government Issued Document that shows your Current Name and Address
  • Veteran Health ID Issued by US Department of Veterans Affairs

Where should I vote?

Find out.


Source 1

Source 2

Source 3

Tax Reform Bill: How to Contact AR Senators


Watch the video above to get all of the contact information to get contact information and tips.

Other helpful links:

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=567758536&mediaId=567762951

Senate pulls All-night Session to Vote on Skinny Repeal

The Senate is set to vote on a newly written bill, referred to as the skinny repeal, barely released an hour ago. They will vote around midnight.

Read the full text.

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Even Senators dislike it, but they may still vote it through.
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Watch live as they vote:
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Track the votes.

Senate Voted to Proceed: Now What?

Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-50 to proceed with debate over the health care bill. With only 2 opposing Republican votes, just 1 shy of what was needed, plus a tie-breaking vote from VP Pence, the motion succeeded. We now move toward serious Medicaid cuts that can’t be reversed once set into motion, and it will take all of us standing together to prevent it.

Watch how each Senator voted.

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Data shows that any bill, amendment, or revision proposed so far will be detrimental to Medicaid recipients. We (MSL) oppose the per capita caps or block grants that have been proposed because they will shift great stress to state budgets and reduce the ability to give recipients the coverage they need. We oppose ending expansion because it will result in millions losing coverage. In addition, the aforementioned bills remove essential health benefits and pre-existing condition protections, which would be detrimental to all Americans, making coverage unaffordable if not unattainable for many.

As part of the AACF statement on how this vote will affect Arkansas, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said: “Today’s vote shows that we have more work to do. Despite an outcry from health care professionals, business owners, families, and even governors, many Senators have decided to move forward with legislation that will destabilize the entire health care system. Too much is at risk to continue down the current path. Children with special needs, elderly enrollees, and people with chronic conditions who rely on Medicaid will lose coverage. Health care for families that were able to purchase affordable coverage, many for the first time, is also at risk.

The people have spoken—any proposal that falls short of guaranteeing everyone affordable, comprehensive coverage, is unacceptable. Now, it’s time for Congress to listen. We ask that Senator Cotton and Senator Boozman commit to voting no on any bill that endangers the health of tens of thousands of Arkansans. Anything less is breaking their promise to all of us.”

Now that we understand the ramifications haven’t changed, here’s what will happen next:

  1. The Senate will debate for 20 hours. By rules, to be fair, Republicans and Democrats get equal time of 10 hours each.
  2. The Senate will probably vote a bunch of times on amendments and such.
  3. Then the Senate will vote on a finalized bill and send it to the House.
  4. The House will vote, and if it passes, they’ll send it to President Trump.

See a flow chart.

As you can see, if you oppose Medicaid cuts, you can’t give up. Not a single Democrat voted to proceed, and we only need a few Republicans to oppose to keep any bill from moving forward. We were only one opposing vote short. Take a breath, renew your determination, and communicate in any way you possibly can!

Contact your Senator!

Email your Senators’ legislative aids!

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Stand strong!

Take Action: Graphic to Share

The news changes like the wind. Are they voting or aren’t they? Repeal and replace or repeal without replace? No matter what’s happening with them, we need to continue to make our needs and wants abundantly clear.

Many are saying that they can’t get through to Senators via phone calls. Don’t stop calling because they are counting the calls. 866-426-2631

However, social media is a great way to publicly contact your Senators, especially since they won’t post their direct email addresses.

Share this graphic with them and tag them in your posts. Use hash tags like #BCRA or #ProtectOurCare to help others see your posts!

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Medicaid Saves Lila

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This is my sweet girl, Lila. She’s active and intelligent. She loves to swing, eat blackberries, and paint. Don’t you dare turn your back on her because she’s mischievous too! She loves her friends, family, and kitty-cats. She is absolutely the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done with my life, and she just so happens to have Down Syndrome.

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She might smile a lot, but her life hasn’t been easy. Born almost a month early due to multiple complications, Lila spent some time in the NICU. She’s overcome multiple illnesses and surgeries, including open heart surgery soon after her first birthday and many others since. In fact, we have received 2 new diagnoses this year alone, and she’ll have at least one surgery.

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My husband and I are proud Arkansans. We’re educated, hard-working, tax-paying citizens. At the time of Lila’s birth, we lived in another state. Despite the fact that we both had good jobs and primary insurance coverage, we struggled to provide for her needs. When we moved back to Arkansas, Lila was significantly delayed in many areas.

IMG_6519 Our friends told us about TEFRA, a type of Medicaid funding that provides for disabled children and that requires the family to pay a premium. Our primary insurance pays first for all that it will cover, and Medicaid makes sure that Lila doesn’t go without the rest. We gladly pay a monthly fee for this essential assistance!

Lila now receives medical treatments that she needs from specialists and Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapy. She attends a school where she is loved and accepted, and they practice important skills in the classroom to prepare her for mainstream Kindergarten. Lila is constantly learning the necessary skills to be independent: speaking new words, learning to feed herself, to dress herself, and to climb stairs. One of my favorite moments was the first time I ever heard her say, “Ma Ma.” Can you imagine waiting 4 years to hear that?

IMG_2776We never expected to need Medicaid. Even though we’d paid taxes for years for Medicaid, we didn’t know that a person’s life can change drastically in a moment – a car accident, a stroke, a job loss, a cancer diagnosis, a chromosomal difference – to cause them to need Medicaid. We thought that if we worked hard enough, we could take care of ourselves and Lila. But no matter how hard we work or what we give up, we just can’t afford to provide for all of Lila’s needs. Now, because of Medicaid, Lila is thriving, and we’re not being crushed under the weight of Lila’s ever-growing medical debt. We have hope that she will continue to develop and someday be a valued, contributing member of society. We are incredibly thankful for Medicaid.

We tell everyone we can how essential Medicaid is! Lila has visited the Capitol and state lawmakers multiple times to represent herself and friends like her. Since she can’t speak much yet, my husband and I tell them how much Medicaid is literally saving lives. I can’t wait for the day that Lila will tell them herself. She brings a beauty and light to this dark world, and we will never stop fighting for her!

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