Friday, March 23, 2018

Building resilience to protect and improve Medicaid

For many in the DD world, Medicaid is the door to inclusion. Our listen, learn and mobilize events start in April



Last year, there were multiple attempts in Congress to not only reduce funding for Medicaid, but to end the program as it exists and leave it to states to rebuild using reduced federal funding.

At The Arc of King County, we joined advocates nationwide to ask Congress to hit pause. Nationwide, 10 million people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to live and participate in their communities.

But as we rallied, it became clear few people really understood Medicaid - not the Congress members considering funding cuts, nor the state legislators who would have to consider service cuts. Even families of people with developmental disabilities were often unaware that the services their loved one relied on were paid for by Medicaid.

In Washington, Medicaid is best known as Apple Health. It covers preventative care and necessary medical services, devices and therapies.

But Medicaid also pays for services that people with developmental disabilities rely on to live in the community, such as supported employment; residential services; assistive technology; and personal care. These are funded through Medicaid home and community based services. Medicaid also pays for nursing home care and intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities at the state Residential Habilitation Centers.

Yet very few people - including other health-care advocates - seemed aware of the full scope and impact of Medicaid on the lives of people with developmental disabilities.


So at The Arc of King County we are launching a resiliency campaign, with the support of the Seattle Foundation. We are one of 24 organizations granted funds to safeguard and advance the safety, security, constitutional and human rights of our region’s most vulnerable community members.

We want to make sure people understand Medicaid and have the tools to protect and improve it. The perspectives and lived experiences of people with developmental disabilities and their families must be factored into health care reform.

The stakes are high: In 2016, Medicaid spending in Washington was $10.9 billion. In our state, Medicaid covers 1 in 5 adults under age 65, and 1 in 2 people with disabilities.

And while people over age 65 and people with disabilities only make up 17 percent of Medicaid recipients in Washington, they account for 40 percent of expenditures - meaning there is a greater likelihood that cost-cutting would affect services for people with disabilities and the elderly.


Our campaign will be done in two phases. In phase one, we will focus on listening and learning and building communication skills. This will run through the summer.

Phase two will focus on mobilization. We will offer advanced advocacy training and opportunities to make policy suggestions and build shared values about inclusive communities.

We hope you will join us!


Let’s Talk - Your experiences with Medicaid waiver services
We want to hear about your experiences with developmental disability services. Should the state be doing anything different? Are you getting what you need? Do you even know what a "waiver" is? Your feedback helps us work with legislators to protect and improve the Medicaid safety net.

Access - Information about Medicaid waivers
Do you want to know how the state supports people with developmental disabilities? Do you need services? We will explain what the services are, give updates, and explain how to apply.

Advocacy and leadership skill building
  • Telling Your Story 101 - Saturday, April 21, in North Seattle
    Sharing your story can be one the most effective ways to advocate. In this hands-on workshop we’ll cover the basics: Help you identify what you want to say, and who your audience is.

  • Telling Your Story 102 - Monday, May 14, in Federal Way
    This workshop gives you an opportunity role play and hear feedback. We’ll watch some live testimony, act out different situations, and discuss what has worked for people in different situations.
  • Messaging and the Media - Tuesday, June 12, in Bellevue
    Want to get your message out there? We'll cover everything from social media to editorial boards.

For more information about Medicaid: