February, 2015

The Texas 84th Legislative Session

Dion White, Center for Life Resources
AAIDD Texas Chapter Treasurer

As we start a new Legislative session there are many items we are being presented with.  The State is dealing with a drought that has really impacted many areas with some very negative consequences in agriculture and tourism.  As more people move into the State the need for an improved transportation system becomes greater.  On top of this there is also a great demand to improve our education system.   These items along with others will be of primary concern during the session.  One item in particular to highlight is what can be done to improve services across the State for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Some of this was addressed in the past legislation with SB 7.  Some of the highlights with this legislation include calls for redesign to managed care models of Medicaid acute care and long-term services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.   The transition to a managed care model continues to move forward across the State for all programs who work with individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  As this transition occurs it will be very important for all entities that work in this field to stay current on any legislation that may become law that will advance this managed care directive.  The main focus will be quality of care and providing that care in an efficient manner.  It is too early in the session to know for certain if any bills will make it through the session that will specifically address managed care in IDD services.  The proactive approach would be to visit your Legislators, analyze any pending legislation regarding IDD services and track that legislation throughout the system.  At the national level AAIDD promotes the following:

 

  • Communicating positions on important issues through position statements and endorsing the work of others

  • Submitting Amicus Curie briefs to the US Supreme Court and others

  • Commenting on draft legislation, proposed rule making, and other federal activities

  • Participating in the work of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

  • Contributing to the popular press & social media on disability issues

  • Sponsoring educational activities, such as the annual Disability Policy Seminar

 

The best action to take for advocates and individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is to be vocal.  Let your voice be heard with your legislators and their staff.  Convey to them what is working and what can be improved across the State in regards to service delivery.  As Texans all individuals have a voice in our legislative process and how that process is used to improve services for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.