Excerpted from the GCDD 2016 Legislative Agenda.
Make Georgia an Employment First State
Currently, the Georgia system creates many barriers for individuals with disabilities to work. Although the majority of Georgians with developmental disabilities want to work, only 8% of Georgians with developmental disabilities are currently employed in the community.1 Under an Employment First policy, state agencies will need to re-align their policies and funding to prioritize employment for all working-age Georgians with disabilities.
Support Students to Attend Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs in GA
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive post-secondary education are more likely to find paid employment than those who don’t, and their earnings are 73% higher than peers who do not receive post-secondary education.
UNLOCK (formerly “Unlock the Waiting Lists!”)
GCDD is proud to support UNLOCK, formerly known as “Unlock the Waiting Lists!” The UNLOCK campaign advocates with Georgians with disabilities so they and their families can live full lives and contribute to Georgia communities and its economy. We believe Georgia must rebalance its system of long-term services and supports, so that fewer dollars are spent on institutional care and more dollars are invested into HCBS services.
We Need More DD Waivers
Out of the several Medicaid waivers that Georgia offers to those who qualify for this level of care, the New Options Waiver (NOW) and the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) have by far Georgia’s longest waiting list. There are over 8,000 individuals with developmental disabilities on this waiting list. These individuals and their families are desperately hanging on and need Georgia to throw them a lifeline.
Address the ICWP Rate Disparity
The Independent Care Waiver Program (ICWP) provides vital assistance to people with significant physical disabilities and traumatic brain injury to help them with daily tasks such as toileting, bathing, dressing, meals and housekeeping. The Medicaid reimbursement rate is significantly lower than all the other Georgia Medicaid waivers making it extremely difficult to find qualified caregivers. By the time home health agencies take their cut, caregivers often are paid only $8-9/hour.
Children’s Freedom Initiative: Bring Georgia’s Children Home
There are a number of school-age children living in nursing facilities or intermediate care facilities. They are in facilities simply because they have a disability and need care despite the fact that it is completely possible to care for them in the community. Georgia needs to shut the front door to these facilities and ensure every child has a permanent loving home.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
An ABLE account is a tax advantaged savings account that will allow people with disabilities to save money without putting their benefits in jeopardy. It is limited to individuals with significant disabilities who became disabled before age 26 and must be spent on certain qualified expenses. Although the federal legislation that enables these accounts was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2014, states must pass their own bills to establish ABLE programs for their residents. We anticipate multiple ABLE state bills being filed during this session.
Support Georgians Who Care for Their Families: The Family Care Act
Many Georgians balance their work lives with caring for their families. The Family Care Act would enable Georgians who have earned sick leave to use up to five days of that leave to care for sick members of their immediate family. The Family Care Act does not add any additional sick days or require employers to provide them; it only allows Georgians to use the sick days they’ve already earned to care for family members.
Change the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities in Capital Punishment Cases
In 2002, the US Supreme Court said it is wrong to execute a person with intellectual disabilities because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. But in Georgia, it is extremely difficult for an individual to prove in court that they have intellectual disabilities. Georgia is the only one of the 50 states that requires a person to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have intellectual disabilities in capital punishment cases.
For more information visit GCDD.