The Arc of Indian River County and the disability community across the state of Florida will lose their federal and state-issued emergency coronavirus funding on August 1, 2020. Providers only have days to make the impossible choice of whether to risk the health and safety of their clients during a pandemic or close programs.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cut funding for organizations that serve adults with disabilities. The emergency funds received in the past three months are governed by a policy designed to cover services during a short-term natural disaster, not a long-term pandemic. This news comes as the U.S. is experiencing an alarming spike in coronavirus cases and deaths, and Florida has been hit very hard. It would be dangerous and irresponsible to resume in-person services for this particularly vulnerable population at this time.
As the current health crisis grew, providers converted the majority of their programs to virtual models like every other industry and educational organization in the country. If the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), the governing body for the state, does not continue funding these organizations, it will impact nearly 35,000 people with disabilities statewide.
“If agency’s like The Arc are forced to close due to the lack of state funding, what will happen to our most vulnerable citizens? stated Heather Dales, Chief Executive Officer. Did you know that Florida ranks 50 out of 51 nationally (inclusive of Washington DC)? Did you know the rates we receive are set by the Florida legislature and the current rates are11% less than we received in 2003 – FOR THE SAME SERVICES? How can a non-profit agency like The Arc possibly have money set aside for a disaster like COVID 19 when the monies we receive from the state do not even cover the cost of some of the services we provide?”
Disability organizations have been forced to garner their own personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing for residents living in group homes. In contrast, state testing and PPE are being provided every two weeks for residents and staff in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. These two populations have very similar risk profiles for COVID-19, yet are receiving extremely different responses from the state. “Why are the people with disabilities, which have many of the same issues as people in assisted living and nursing homes, being treated so differently by the State?” continued Heather Dales.
Organizations providing services for people with disabilities are requesting that APD release the already budgeted state funding for day programs, while pursuing other options with the federal government, including an emergency funding extension. The clock is ticking with less than two weeks to figure it out.
About The Arc of Indian River County
Mission Statement: “The Arc supports and empowers individuals with special needs to achieve their life goals.” The Arc of IRC provides services to over 220 individuals with developmental disabilities in Indian River County. Founded in 1975, The Arc is a Non-Profit, 501 (c) 3 agency, dedicated to meeting the needs of people with developmental disabilities. For information on The Arc, please call 772.562.6854, ext 219.
Please help us by contacting the following:
Senator Debbie Mayfield
900 East Strawbridge Avenue, Melbourne, FL 32901
Phone: (321) 409-2025
404 South Monroe Street
322 Senate Office Building, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
Phone: (850) 487-5017
Senior Senator for Florida
@SenRubioPressOfficial Website 202-224-3041
Junior Senator for Florida
@SenRickScottOfficial Website 202-224-5274