Connections - 01.30.20

CEO Perspective: On Anniversaries, Margie & Isaiah’s Bill, and New Years Resolutions

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2020. Ready to Elevate? Roar into the new decade?

Our South Carolina Human Services Association friends are seriously into it, and those kids know how to throw a party. I’ve seen it, and lived to tell the tale (offline, folks!). Never to miss a great theme, their March conference riffs on the Roaring Twenties—of course it does! Somehow, this northern girl never appreciated how much more fun Southerners seem to have (or Kentuckians for that matter…who remembers Chris Stevenson leading the dance at ANCOR’s 2019 conference?).

But know this: I came back from South Carolina and Kentucky and Oregon and everywhere else I went in 2019 feeling inspired. Rather, WE are inspired.

Because this is the year. ANCOR’s 50th Anniversary. The ANCOR Foundation’s 20th Anniversary. The 30th Anniversary of the ADA. As if that’s not enough, it’s even my 30th wedding anniversary!

So of course, ANCOR’s throwing a major party—times two! The big 50th Anniversary Gala will be in October in DC at the National Archives, but we’re serving up some spicy appetizers for the kickoff in Miami at Elevate: The 2020 ANCOR Annual Conference in April. Register, book your flights, don’t miss it—Miami sizzles and so will the kickoff to our 50th anniversary celebration!

Anniversaries prompt us to celebrate, and equally importantly, reflect. Where we came from, how we’ve changed, where we are going.  We pause this year for all of that, and we invite you to reflect with us as we position ANCOR for the next half century. To celebrate the extraordinary association of providers that came together 50 years ago with the conviction that they would each individually be stronger together, that individuals and their families would benefit from providers joining forces, and learning from each other.

But in between those parties we have our work cut out for us. In spades. The Trump Administration remains very active and ANCOR’s legislative agenda is large. We have just gotten Margie & Isaiah’s Bill introduced in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. This is the bill that internally we think of as Shirley’s bill, because it was PAR’s Shirley Walker who told us the story of Margie, who literally up to the moment of her passing was advocating for her son, Isaiah—and all individuals—to be able to have Medicaid reimburse providers for DSPs to support individuals when they are hospitalized. 

On another front, we are working on recommendations to CMS in response to an expected RFI for managed long-term care quality metrics. We are submitting comments and pushing back on the CMS proposed rule that will result in states not being able to fully leverage supplemental payments—which, translated, means less federal dollars flowing to states. We support ANCOR’s Alternate Payment Models Work Group, which is charged with developing provider-led opportunities to realize efficiencies and be able to reinvest cost savings into our DSP workforce.

But wait—there’s so much more! The ANCOR Disability Champions Political Action Committee hosted two events last year and we have exciting plans for events this year: last year’s events were for Senator Wyden in Oregon, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and champion of Medicaid, and for Representative Guthrie, who went to the mat for us on MFP and the delay of EVV. Meanwhile, judging is underway for the DSP of the Year awards recognition, and together with UCP, the ANCOR Foundation’s Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign will release the Case for Inclusion 2020 next week with a launch event at the National Press Club on February 6.

And then, as I mentioned, my husband and I celebrate our 30th! Any one ever been to Malta? We’re headed there in May. I actually don’t know ANYONE who’s ever gone to Malta. So why are we? Well, as those of you who’ve been married for a long time can appreciate, it’s all about compromise sometimes. And fortunately, sometimes compromise makes magic. So, Malta is happening because one of us spent hours binge-watching the Durrells in Corfu, the other is fixated on Italy, and we’re both island junkies. So, Malta it is. Rumor has it you can feast on a delightful mash up of Greek, Italian, North African and English afternoon tea all on one Mediterranean island.  

I have another trip planned this year—one that is my New Year’s Resolution. In September, God willing, I’ll hike the Grand Canyon. Last year, I climbed the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Katahdin; the prospect of this year’s hike, like last year, is a little scary, but I’m determined. I hope to couple it with a visit with a woman who has been an incredible source of inspiration to me, although amazingly, I’ve never met her in person. That person is Joni Fritz. Joni was ANCOR’s second CEO who, over her 25-year tenure working alongside so many incredible ANCOR volunteer leaders, established the incredibly strong foundation for ANCOR. An association built on the values of community integration, ANCOR’s 50th Anniversary is a testament to Joni and our founders, and to all of you who today form this vibrant community of providers. Here’s to us!

Barbara Merrill is CEO of ANCOR.