Advocacy

5-6 minute read

CTD has built a reputation as one of the foremost advocates in the state for public policy that protects and benefits Texans with disabilities, their families, service providers, and communities. Whether the Legislature is in session or we're in an interim year, be assured that CTD is working for you at the Capitol!

The 87th Texas Legislature convened Tuesday, January 12, 2021, and is scheduled to adjourn Monday, May 31.

Join our advocacy team each Monday to Raise Your Voice!

Top Priorities

Attendant Wages

Recruitment and retention of this crucial workforce have been at high risk for decades, due to an extremely low base wage, no benefits, increasing demand, and alternative employers paying much higher wages. We recommend an increase in the hourly base wage to $15.00 in 2022-23.

Access to Oral and Dental Care

More than 400,000 adult Texans in Medicaid receive little to no dental services. When these individuals have dental pain, their only option is the emergency room. Plus, poor oral health is linked to serious chronic conditions, like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. A preventative dental benefit would improve the oral and overall health outcomes of this population and help them avoid expensive ER visits and hospitalizations, while reducing acute care costs of chronic conditions.

Healthcare Costs

To afford out-of-pocket healthcare costs, many consumers rely on copay assistance programs, where drug manufacturers or other third parties offer copay cards or coupons. A new insurance practice called Copay Accumulators prevent those funds from counting toward a consumer's annual deductible or other out-of-pocket requirements. The Legislature should ban this unfair practice, which results in higher out-of-pocket costs for the consumer. CTD supports SB 523 (Buckingham).

Mental Health & IDD

Access to quality treatment continues to be a problem for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experiencing mental illness. Significant workforce shortages of mental health/ IDD specialists, as well as limited knowledge and training for mental health and IDD professionals, create substantial barriers. The Legislature should strengthen efforts to capitalize on the expertise in both fields and establish a seamless, comprehensive, and integrated system of care for this population.

Mental Health Services for Children & Youth

Children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to experience trauma and abuse than their peers. The Legislature should strengthen early childhood and school-based mental health supports and practices to foster a supportive school climate and ensure that school discipline policies do not target students with disabilities and/or mental health issues. CTD supports HB 785 (Allen) and SB 414 (Lucio).

Special Education & Schools

Texas' public education system could be facing some radical changes in 2021. The Texas Legislature must NOT leave students with disabilities behind by neglecting to support special education programs and failing to address harmful school discipline practices. CTD supports HB 411 (Julie Johnson).

State Budget & Appropriations

The coronavirus pandemic and related unemployment and economic impact have prompted speculation of severe budget cuts in 2021. With a massive Rainy Day Fund, extra billions coming from the federal government, and opportunities to close revenue loopholes, legislators have a choice to prioritize the needs of Texans and plan for the future. In 2021, we urge legislators to fund programs that support adults and children with all disabilities, personal attendants, and families in Medicaid managed care.

Voting

Mail-in ballots are one component of ensuring that Texans with disabilities can cast a private, independent ballot, but this system is not accessible to blind voters. In 2021, the Legislature should enable a mail-in ballot format that is accessible to all eligible voters, as well as address the state's faulty policies around mail-in ballot signature verification and ensure that voters have an opportunity to cure their ballot before an election, if a discrepancy is found. In addition, CTD will oppose any legislation that would create a barrier to voting for Texans with disabilities.

Other priorities

Access to Medical Cannabis

We support the expansion of the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) to cover more Texans and to give patients and their doctors greater control over determining the proper dosing levels of both CBD and THC to best meet the individual's need. The state's current policy on medical cannabis and qualifying conditions allows access to safe and legal cannabis to too few Texans, when many more, include some with disabilities, could benefit. In addition, hemp legalization in 2019 had the unintended consequence of driving patients away from the regulated TCUP to the unregulated hemp market, which must be corrected.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

We join lead organization Texans Care for Children in urging the Legislature to address funding shortfalls and program policies to sustain ECI. This investment will ensure that little Texans get the early intervention services they need to get on a strong developmental track and be ready for school. CTD urges the legislature to prioritize ECI in the budget by funding at least $450 per child per month, the average funding level over the last decade. We also urge the Legislature to ensure state-regulated private insurance plans cover ECI therapies and other services like targeted case management and specialized skills training. CTD supports HB 843 (Lopez) and HB 908 (Julie Johnson).

Employment Opportunities

Adding people with disabilities to the Historically Underutilized Business program (HUB) will increase entrepreneurship, support self-employment, and sponsor small business ventures for a historically disadvantaged minority. This will, in turn, provide the state of Texas with valuable goods and services.

Inclusive Child Care

Parents of children with disabilities face significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining high-quality, reliable, inclusive child care. This results in parents dropping out of the workforce, family isolation, turning to unregulated care, and a missed opportunity to connect with other programs like ECI. In fact, ECI providers report challenges in serving children in their natural environment because they are denied opportunities to work with children who are in child care settings during the day. Child caregivers would benefit from training on working with children with disabilities and supporting early childhood mental health. CTD supports HB168 (M. González).

Increase the Number of Texans with Health Insurance

Texas' rate and number of uninsured citizens continues to be the highest in the nation—and it's growing. A recent economic study reports that health insurance expansion would produce a net positive to the state budget while creating 231,700 jobs in the first year. Texans with disabilities currently not eligible for coverage would gain it. Meanwhile, the healthcare industry is one of the best at employing people with disabilities, a demographic with a high unemployment rate. We support the Cover Texas Now and Sick of It TX coalitions in advocating for health insurance expansion.

Non-Medical Switching

As a member of the Coalition for Stable Patients, we support measures to end the practice of non-medical switching in Texas. Non-medical switching is a set of tactics health insurers use to switch stable consumers off their already-prescribed medications for non-medical reasons. It can take months or even years for a person with a chronic condition and their doctor to find an effective medication; insurance companies should not stand in the way of their stable health.

Youth Justice / Criminal Justice

CTD supports legislation this session that will authorize supported decision-making agreements for those with disabilities during court proceedings, which would allow authorized supporters to help individuals understand their rights during the legal process. We are also pushing for more transparency in our jails concerning the release of medical information. CTD supports legislation that will make this process easier for families and agencies to inquire about the physical and emotional wellbeing of individuals with disabilities in custody. 

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