I write to reinforce some very exciting news with you about an important new development in ANCOR’s federal advocacy work. As we reported in Tuesday’s Capitol Correspondence, on Monday, Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) and Tom Emmer (R-MN) introduced the Isaiah Baker & Margie Harris-Austin Act. If passed, this legislation would authorize states with 1915(c) waivers to reimburse providers for time Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) spend supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) during short-term hospital stays.
As many ANCOR members are aware, when a person with I/DD becomes hospitalized, DSPs often play a critical role by supporting the range of needs that person encounters during what can be a trying time. However, states are currently prohibited from paying DSPs for the time they spend supporting individuals during hospital stays because, in these instances, Medicaid programs reimburse the hospital as the provider of services. The Isaiah Baker & Margie Harris-Austin Act changes that.
Although it may feel like a minor change to existing statute, this bill has the potential to be transformative for people with I/DD and the DSPs who support them. The Act gives states the option of ensuring that individuals who are hospitalized get the support they require from a professional who knows their unique needs.
This bill is an important demonstration of the power of association — how, when we put people first and marshal the depth and breadth of our membership, we advance meaningful change despite a divisive environment on Capitol Hill. Whereas others may lament gridlock in Congress, bipartisan support for the Isaiah Baker & Margie Harris-Austin Act shows that there are opportunities to affect legislation that has a positive impact on the lives of millions of people. On behalf of the entire ANCOR community, I extend deep gratitude to Reps. Emmer and Scanlon for putting principle over party, making people the priority.
Our deep gratitude is also due to Shirley Walker, President Emeritus of PAR and outgoing member of ANCOR’s Board of Directors. The bill — named for Shirley’s friend, Margie, and Margie’s son, Isaiah — is the result of Shirley’s tireless advocacy on this issue. Shirley first identified the need for legislative action and urged ANCOR to take the lead after Margie passed away unexpectedly after testifying in front of the Governor’s Commission on behalf of this issue. Thank you, Shirley, for bringing Margie and Isaiah’s story to our attention, and for your leadership throughout the process of ensuring the introduction of this important legislation.
Finally, please join me in sharing gratitude for ANCOR’s Government Relations team which, under Sarah Meek’s leadership, is proving that ANCOR can get important work done in a tough political environment. Of course, you can rest easy knowing that when the time comes, Sarah and her team will alert you to the opportunity to take action to ensure the Isaiah Baker & Margie Harris-Austin Act becomes law.
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