The budget is scheduled to appear tomorrow!

Published Feb. 20, 2012

The budget is scheduled to appear tomorrow!

February 20, 2012

The budget is scheduled to appear tomorrow!

After a long wait and less than three weeks left in the 2012 supplemental session, the House is scheduled to release their supplemental operating budget proposal tomorrow morning with a public hearing to be held in the afternoon. The Senate is supposed to release their budget proposal a week later. Once both budgets are released, legislators will need to find a compromise proposal that the Governor will agree. Be sure you are signed up on The Arc’s Action E-list so that you can be notified as to what services are scheduled for cuts or elimination. Although the recent revenue forecast indicates the budget deficit is not as bad now as it was in November, some cuts are still likely. You need to advocate with your legislators so that they know what is important to you!

To see the budget side-by-side go to www.arcwa.org/takeaction then click on Budget Information. The chart currently shows the Governor’s budget proposal, but House and Senate proposals should be out soon.

Autism

Last week at Advocacy Day we focused on autism, the fastest growing developmental disability. Though there is no known cause and no known cure, there are interventions and therapies that can help. Dawn Sidell, the Executive Director for the Northwest Autism Center (NAC) was the guest speaker. She talked about the upcoming changes to diagnostic criteria for children with autism. The number of people diagnosed with autism continues to increase and some believe it is because the criteria is too broad. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is in the process of being updated and the DSM-V is scheduled to be released next Spring. The American Psychiatric Association cites the reason for the changes as “distinctions among disorders have been found to be inconsistent over time, variable across sites and often associated with severity, language level or intelligence rather than features of the disorder.” Instead of three categories of features for diagnosticians to observe from, they condense these to two. In addition, three levels of severity will be listed, something not included in the current version. It remains to be seen as to whether this will be beneficial or leave many out of inclusion in the diagnosis.

We also learned more about neurodevelopmental therapy coverage, a bill that has failed to pass the legislature over the last few years. Some families who have children with autism, filed class action lawsuits in King County alleging that behavioral therapy (such as Applied Behavioral Analysis) should not have been denied by their insurance companies because the Mental Health Parity Act covers them. It turns out that the judge ruled in favor of these families, finding that not only is behavioral therapy a covered benefit, but so is speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Insurance companies have not been complying, so Eleanor Hamburger, the attorney with Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore, has filed suit against each individual insurance company. According to her, “In a recent decision, Judge Robert Lasnik found that the Mental Health Parity Act requires coverage of all medically necessary neurodevelopmental therapies for people with DSM-IV diagnoses, without any age limit or treatment limitations.” Watch for more information to come!

Bills of Interest – what’s left goes through the whole process again.

Bills that have made it this far now need to make it through the policy committee of the opposite House by this Friday (2/24/12), and then through the fiscal committee by next Monday (2/27/12) unless they are determined to be NTIB or Necessary To Implement the Budget. SB 6162, concerning the Endangered Missing Persons Advisory, passed from its committee and is still alive, as is SB 6120, the Safety in children’s products bill. SB 6157 (creates a detention intake and risk assessment standards for juveniles with developmental disabilities) and SB 6384, an employment bill which allows people with a developmental disability to transition to community access after nine months in an employment program, if they choose to, are also still alive.

The Arc makes it easy for you to track bills and their status, as well as what hearings are happening during the week. You can always find the updated list at http://arcwa.org/takeaction and click on Budget Information and Bills of Interest or Legislative Hearings and Events.

What can you do now?

This year’s Independent Living Day Rally is this Wednesday, February 22nd. It will likely be a bit rainy, so dress warm and bring your umbrella. DON’T FORGET TO WEAR YOUR BLUE SCARF AND DRESS IN BLUE. The rally is sponsored by PAS-Port for Change. For more information on Advocacy Day events visit http://arcwa.org/takeaction and click on Advocacy Day.

Be sure to stay updated by watching the short Olympia Insider videos from each week of this legislative session at{page_13}olympia_insider

Stay connected during this critical time:

    Read the Olympia Reporter for in-depth news happening in Olympia at http://arcwa.org/category/insider/C1
    Subscribe to the Olympia Insider YouTube channel for video updates at http://arcwa.org/category/insider/C2
    Sign up for Action Alerts at http://capwiz.com/arcwa/state/main/?state=WA This is The Arc of Washington’s Advocacy web page where you can view Action Alerts, learn the status of bills during session and much more.
    Be sure to follow TheArcofWA on Twitter for quick updates texted to your cell phone. http://twitter.com/arcofwa
    Become a fan of The Arc - Washington State on Facebook for interactive conversations and information.
    “Like” the Don’t Cut Our Lifeline! Facebook page with discussions about all of the cuts proposed to Medicaid, both at state and federal levels.
    Follow blog postings on Remarks from The Arc, read perspectives from various advocates on the issues of concern.
    Get the Advocacy Partnership Project “News to Know” email newsletter. Email a request to join to Diana@arcwa.org.
    Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. The Arc makes this easy for you to do. Simply go to http://capwiz.com/arcwa/home and click on the “Media Guide” tab. Choose five newspapers to send to, then write your message and click send.

Questions? Need more information? Email me at Diana@arcwa.org.

Remember, change is being made by those who show up!