Public Policy

capitol building

The Arc’s network of national, state and local chapters impacts public policy at all levels.  Through our advocacy and grassroots mobilization, we work to protect the rights of people with IDD and their families.

To read The Arc's position statements, click HERE.

To read The Arc Tennessee’s public policy priorities, click HERE.

State Government & State Legislation

Current News
The Tennessee General Assembly is housed in the Cordell Hull building.

Stay Informed
The Arc Tennessee and Disability Rights Tennessee track bills that may impact people with disabilities. In addition, The Arc Tennessee hosts a weekly update conference call every Friday morning at 8:30 am (Central Time) during legislative session.  If you would like to be added to the list to receive the weekly updates and to receive conference call information, please contact Carrie Hobbs Guiden.

The Council on Developmental Disabilities publishes a weekly policy update through a listserv. To sign up for these emails click HERE.

The Arc TN Weekly Legislative Update [.doc] - 2/1/19
The Arc TN Weekly Legislative Update [.pdf] - 2/1/19
Disability Rights Tennessee Policy Watch - 2/15/19

State Legislature
The 2019 session of the One Hundred Eleventh General Assembly convened January 8, 2018. Senator Randy McNally will continue as Lieutenant Governor. Representative Glen Casada was elected Speaker of the House. To keep up with the activities of the Tennessee General Assembly, visit their website at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/.

To view the Senate Committees, click HERE.
To view the House Committees, click HERE.
To view the Joint Committees, click HERE.
To view contact information for the General Assembly members, click HERE.
DSP Wages Talking Points

Get Involved
Your involvement in public policy advocacy is key to protecting and furthering the rights of people with IDD and their families.There are many ways you can make a difference. Below are just a few of your options:

  • Develop relationships with your elected officials, both federal and state – meet with them in person, email them, call them and share your personal stories
  • “Friend” your legislators on social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Click HERE to get social media information for Federal legislators
  • “Like” The Arc Tennessee Facebook page and “Share” our posts with your Friends
  • Respond to Action Alerts from The Arc US and The Arc Tennessee
  • Agree to be a “point person” in your county to alert other families to important legislative action that needs their attention
  • Respond to requests for public comment on proposed state plans, policies, rules and regulations – the State does take this feedback seriously
  • Attend public forums, town hall meetings and public hearings
  • Join committees, task forces, advisory committees
  • TN General Assembly Map

Your Voice Matters!
Are you interested in learning more about public policy advocacy but not sure where to start?  Take advantage of our free Public Policy Webinar Series! Below are links to past webinars.

Contact Carrie Hobbs Guiden for more information on how to get involved in public policy advocacy with The Arc. 

Disability Day on the Hill 2019
This year's theme is LiveAble lived up to expectations! What a great turnout! Working together with legislators on issues that impact our lives like healthcare, employment, education and more truly has an impact.

    The Disability Advocacy Network
    Join The Arc Disability Advocacy Network to keep informed of critical issues impacting people with IDD & their families. The Arc network is only as strong as its members. Your voice is critical to ensuring that the needs of people with IDD and their families are included anytime a law is passed or changed or when programs are designed or redesigned.  To learn more about public policy advocacy and how to help, contact Carrie Hobbs Guiden.

    Federal Government & Federal Legislation

    Current News

    Medicaid and Work Requirements Guidance
    On January 11, 2018 CMS issued guidance to states around “community engagement requirements” for able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid. To learn more about the CMS guidance, please click these links:
    Medicaid and Work Requirements Guidance
    CMS Policy Guidance

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) posted TennCare's proposal to impose "commuity engagement requirements" for abled-bodied adults receiving Medicaid. To learn more about this proposal and how to make public comment, participate in the Tennessee Justice Center's webinar by clicking HERE.

    SNAP
    SNAP is vitally important for people with disabilities and their families because all too often food insecurity and disability go together. Families that include people with disabilities are two to three times more likely to experience food insecurity than families that have no members with disabilities. Many people with disabilities or chronic illness, and their families, would be hurt by cuts to SNAP. Though the program was not touched last session, rumor has it that Congress is considering legislation that would once again propose cuts to this vital program.

    For more federal updates via email, sign up for the The Arc Capitol Insider listserv by clicking HERE. To read the Capitol Insider Blog click HERE.

    Medicaid (TennCare) Facts
    While Medicaid is best known as a health care program for poor people, more than 80 percent of its budget goes to care for the elderly, people with disabilities, and children, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 15% goes to health care for “able-bodied” adults.

    Medicaid (TennCare in Tennessee) is a jointly funded program with matching state and federal funds. Under the current funding structure, TennCare receives $2 in federal funds for every $1 in state funds included in their budget.  Any cuts to the federal portion of Medicaid via per capita caps, block grants or other mechanisms will have a devastating impact on services and supports for Tennesseans with disabilities such as:

    • Losing home and community-based services and supports through the DIDD Medicaid Waivers, through CHOICES or through ECF CHOICES.  Waiting lists would quickly grow, and Tennessee already has a waiting list of nearly 6,000.
    • Losing other critical services such as personal care, mental health, prescription drugs, and rehabilitative services. If funds become scarcer, states may decide to stop providing these services altogether.
    • Being forced into unnecessary institutionalization. States could return to the days of “warehousing” people with disabilities in institutions.
    • Shifting the costs to individuals or family members to make up for the federal cuts. The costs of providing health care and long term services and supports will not go away, but will be shifted to individuals, parents, states, and providers.

    Medicaid Fact Sheet

    Ongoing Medicaid (TennCare) Advocacy
    Many leaders in Washington, DC are committed to dismantling the Medicaid program as we know it and we must keep sending them the continuous message to protect it. Medicaid (TennCare) not only provides health care for people with I/DD, it also provides critical long-term services and supports (LTSS) that allow people with I/DD to live healthy, safe and fully inclusive lives in their communities. Below are some facts about the Medicaid program in Tennessee and what you can do to help continue educating our electing officials about this critical program.

    What You Can Do

    If you have a few hours:

    • Schedule a meeting with the staff of Senator Alexander, Senator Blackburn and your Congressman at the local office closest to you – go on your own, go as a family, or go as a group representing The Arc
    • Learn more about how to prepare for a visit here:  http://www.thearc.org/document.doc?id=5660
    • Attend a town hall meeting for Senator Alexander or Senator Blackburn; for a list of meetings, check here:  https://townhallproject.com/

    If you have one hour:

    • Write a letter or an email to Senators Alexander and Blackburn and your Congressman sharing your personal story of how Medicaid (TennCare) has benefitted you and your family and what would happen if the supports went away
    • Share your personal Medicaid (TennCare) story with The Arc here:  http://disabilityadvocacynetwork.org/app/share-your-story?0&engagementId=286214
    • Film a short video where you share your Medicaid (TennCare) story and share it with The Arc TN and/or post on Facebook

    If you have thirty (30) minutes (or less):

    • Write a short email to Senators Alexander and Blackburn and our Congressman that simply asks them to oppose any cuts to Medicaid through legislation or the budget without sharing your personal story
    • Respond to Action Alerts from The Arc TN and The Arc US

    If you have five (5) minutes or less:

    • Call the DC offices of Senators Alexander and Blackburn and tell whoever answers the phone that you are a constituent (and mention your connection to disability) and that you oppose any action that cuts Medicaid funding
    • Contact their local offices and share the same message
    • Join The Arc Disability Action Network at http://disabilityadvocacynetwork.org/app/register?0&m=9899
    • If you use social media, “friend” Senators Alexander and Blackburn on Facebook – then share posts from The Arc TN, The Arc US and others that provide information on the devastating impact of Medicaid cuts
    • “Like” The Arc Tennessee on Facebook and share our posts
    • “Like” The Arc US on Facebook and share their posts
    • Follow The Arc TN and The Arc US on twitter – “retweet” posts

    The Message

    • I am a member of The Arc.
    • I am a person with IDD, or I am a family member of someone with IDD, or I am a professional in the disability field.
    • Please oppose any action that cuts Medicaid (TennCare), including block grants and/or per capita caps
    • Supports for people with I/DD through Medicaid (TennCare) is not a partisan issue
    • Any consideration for changes to the Medicaid program should be thoroughly analyzed
    • Congress should continue finding innovative solutions to expand access to HCBS such as through reauthorizing the Money-Follows-the-Person (MFP) demonstration
    • Medicaid provides critical healthcare and long-term services and supports for people with I/DD that all them to live healthy, safe and meaningful lives as valued members of their communities

    These activities are not just “one and done” – please keep contacting them!

    Congressional Phone Numbers

    The needs of people with IDD and their families must be considered when passing or changing any law, or developing or changing any program that could impact their quality of life. People with IDD have the same rights as every other citizen. To learn more about other public policy issues important to people with IDD and their families, visit The Arc US website Public Policy and Legal Advocacy page.

    Voting

    Voting is both a right and a responsibility:

    A RIGHT: As a citizen in the United States who is over 18 years old, you have the right to vote. When you vote you help elect the people who make the laws that affect your life.
    A RESPONSIBILITY: There are many issues that affect people with IDD. All voters have a responsibility to know what they want to vote for. Educate yourself about issues that are important to you. Read newspapers, watch the news, and search the Internet to learn about candidates and issues you are interested in.
    REGISTER: If you are not yet registered to vote, learn more about where you can register HERE.

    Meet the newly elected Governor by clicking the link below:

    Meet the newly elected Federal Senator by clicking the link below:

    Voting Resources

    Kindred Stories is a joint project between Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and The Arc Tennessee that shares individual and family stories on topics of importance.  These collections of stories that are shared with state and federal elected officials can be read HERE. To download the latest issue "Rural Issues" click HERE.

    Disability Policy Alliance
    The Arc Tennessee participates in the Disability Policy Alliance (DPA), a public policy advocacy collaborative that also includes the Council on Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights Tennessee.