Survival Coalition Wisconsin

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is a cross-disability coalition of more than 40 state and local organizations and groups. For more than 20 years, Survival has been focused on changing and improving policies and practices that support people with disabilities of all ages to be full participants in community life.

Updates

Survival Coalition Applauds Department of Health Services Initiative to Suspend not Terminate Medicaid Enrollment for Criminal-Justice Involved Individuals (press release)

For Immediate Release:  October 16, 2020

(Madison) – The Survival Coalition of more than 30 disability organizations applauds  Department of Health Services and Governor Evers for their decision to suspend rather than terminate Medicaid eligibility for incarcerated individuals. Federal law does not allow the use of Medicaid funds for services provided to inmates of public institutions, so this change is necessary for these individuals to begin receiving healthcare in the community quickly upon their release.  “Simply re-enrolling individuals upon their release should be a much easier process than starting all over with a new application” said  Lisa Pugh, Survival Co-Chair, “this will mean a much quicker connection to care in the community.” Read full Press Release

Survival Coalition Applauds Governor’s Task Force Report on Caregiving Recommendations; Requests Immediate Action

(Madison) – Survival Coalition specifically supports recommendations to enhance resources for family caregivers provided through Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), proposals to raise rates to providers that are tied to increases in worker wages; efforts to ensure workers can afford and maintain essential benefits like health care and child care and other proposals that will alleviate stress – financial and otherwise – on family caregivers. The report outlines that there are an estimated 580,000 family caregivers and more than 90,000 direct care workers in Wisconsin. Read full press release here.

Action Alert   (UPDATED 8/25/2020)

Educate Candidates about Disability Policy issues

A big election is coming up on November 3rd and we want all candidates for public office to know about disability issues. Now is the time to educate candidates!   

Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations has a new, handy resource you can provide to your candidates. The document called Issues that Impact People with Disabilities in Wisconsin: Background Papers, describes the funding sources, challenges and impacts of programs and services intended to improve the lives of Wisconsinites with disabilities.

On November 3rd, every Wisconsin voter will have the opportunity to cast a vote for candidates to serve as their Congressional Representative and State Assembly Representative.  Voters living in “even numbered” districts will vote for their State Senator.  Read full Action Alert

Survival Coalition Shares Essential Information on Disability Issues for Candidates for Public Office

The new resource – Issues that Impact People with Disabilities in Wisconsin: Background Papers– draws on the expertise of people with disabilities and advocates statewide who describe the funding sources, challenges and impacts of various programs and services intended to improve the lives of Wisconsinites with disabilities.

“Candidates and all policymakers will find this new resource to be incredibly helpful in understanding not only how programs do or don’t currently work for people with disabilities, but what needs to be done to make them better,” says Survival Co-Chair, Lisa Pugh. “The papers should be used to help people in public office have informed relationships with their constituents with disabilities.” Read Press Release

Issues that Impact People with Disabilities in Wisconsin: Background Papers

Survival has prepared these issue papers to provide background and a disability perspective for elected
officials, candidates for office and other policymakers and advocates. Many people with disabilities access programs and services funded by the federal, state, or local governments to support them in maintaining their health, accessing education and employment, and participating in their communities. As policy makers, you will make decisions on programs and services that are critical to the independence and the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health conditions, sensory disabilities, and aging adults.

The issues discussed in these background papers impact many Wisconsinites. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 26% (1 in 4) of adults have some type of disability. Survival Coalition invites candidates and elected officials to include the disability perspective as you deliberate on policies for employment, transportation, education, health care, voting, mental health, and long-term care. Our Coalition leadership and member organizations are available to address questions and serve as a resource for you.

COVID-19 has created new challenges for Wisconsinites with disabilities to access the services they rely on to maintain their health and independence.  Since many people with disabilities are at greater risk for COVID-19, it is essential that policy makers prioritize the needed funding and policies to provide and maintain vital services in a manner that is safe, accessible, and person-centered.  COVID-19 relief legislation and policies must address funding to state and local government to sustain vital services for people with disabilities including funding for Medicaid, Home and Community Based services, transportation, and support for students with disabilities and public schools.  Read Background Papers

U.S. Senate COVID relief HEALS Act falls short for people with disabilities, contact Congress

The U.S. Senate released its COVID relief package (the HEALS bill) on Monday.

Most of the disability community priorities are NOT in the Senate bill, including no funding for Medicaid or Home and Community Based Services. The House passed the HEROES Act in May that includes many disability priorities. The House and Senate will have to negotiate on a final bill.

It is important that both U.S. Senators and Representatives hear from constituents as they make changes to ensure disability priorities are included. Our advocacy over the next 2 weeks is going to be critical!

Action Steps

  • Contact U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (call (202) 224-5653 or e-mailand Ron Johnson (call (202) 224-5323, or e-mail)
  • Contact your U.S. Representative (Who is my U.S. Representative).
  • Tell them any COVID relief package MUST include:
    • Significant aid to state and local governments so education, Medicaid, transportation, and other programs people with disabilities depend on will not have to be cut or eliminated.
    • Dedicated funding for Home and Community Based Services
    • Increased federal match to support state Medicaid programs
    • Support for students with disabilities and public schools that need to provide virtual education

Basic Overview of U.S. Senate HEALS bill

No aid to state or local governments

Many states predict as much as a 20-30% decline in money coming in to pay for programs–like Medicaid, K-12 education, and programs run by counties–at the same time costs to respond to the pandemic and help people who have lost their jobs and healthcare are increasing. Many states are facing large budget deficits now and expect state budget deficits to continue for at least the next two years.

State budget shortfalls will have major impacts on Medicaid, education, transportation, county services and other programs that receive state funding. States facing budget crises could cut services, putting people with disabilities at increased risk of unnecessary institutionalization.

Reductions in state aid will impact school district, county, municipal and town budgets which may force cuts to education, local services, and local government workforces.

No dedicated funding for Home and Community-Based Services (Family Care and IRIS)

Without dedicated funding, advocates worry people currently living in their homes will experience additional barriers finding workers or support they need, leading to more people forced into institutions where the risk of COVID is greater.

Funding is needed to ensure providers of critical in-home services stay in business and are not forced to cut their workforce, costing jobs and leaving people with disabilities with no workers and few choices.

No funding to specifically address needs of students with disabilities

The Senate bill includes funding for K12 education, but reserves most of it for schools reopening for in-person instruction. Survival Coalition focus groups found that 1 in 4 families had children who cannot risk exposure to COVID due to their health conditions, and will not be able to attend in-person classes until the pandemic is under control.

Many families said virtual learning was impossible for their child due to their disability, poor internet access, lack of technology equipment, accessibility shortfalls of virtual learning platforms, need for adults support in a typical classroom or little to no support from schools.

Many Wisconsin school districts are planning to open virtually in the fall; others opening initially in-person have contingency plans in place should the pandemic require transition to virtual learning. Without dedicated funding and direction, many students with disabilities will be left behind.

No increase in federal match to support state Medicaid programs

The Senate bill does not include an increase in the amount of money the Federal government provides the state (FMAP) for Medicaid programs (including Family Care, IRIS, Children’s Long Term Support, MAPP BadgerCare) and services (ForwardHealth card).

Many people have lost jobs, income, and employer-sponsored health insurance. More people are depending on Medicaid for health care during the pandemic. Without greater federal support, state budgets will not have enough money for people to get the care they need.

Providers are shielded from liability for negligent care

The Senate bill would shield healthcare providers and other businesses from liability for COVID-19 illnesses and death. These provisions, which would give immunity to nursing facilities, excuse negligent care, and allow harm to residents to go unaddressed, would reward bad actors and remove incentives for facilities to comply with laws and regulations, eliminate one of the last remaining oversight protections for residents, place workers and communities at risk, and perpetuate racial disparities in health care.

Resources on the U.S. Senate and House COVID relief proposals