The 2022 session of the Indiana General Assembly ended in the early morning hours of March 9th. This year’s session was a short session, so no major budget items were discussed. Major priorities for legislators included ending the state’s public health emergency and cutting taxes for Hoosiers. Following are the legislative wins for Hoosiers with disabilities:
The general assembly unanimously approved legislation championed by The Arc of Indiana to expand the state’s motor vehicle protection act, also known as the Lemon Law, to include accessible vehicles and accessible features. If an individual has major issues with their vehicle or accessible features, the manufacturer has three tries to fix the problem. If there is still an issue, the manufacturer must work with the customer on getting a replacement or reimbursement for the vehicle or accessible feature.
ABLE Account Tax Credit
Over the past few years, The Arc of Indiana has worked with the state treasurer’s office to provide a tax credit for deposits made to an ABLE Account. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow Hoosiers with disabilities and their families to save money to be used toward disability related expenses. 529 College Savings accounts allow for a tax credit and The Arc has advocated that ABLE accounts should have the same benefit. Legislators greed and approved up to $500 in tax credits for money deposited into an ABLE account beginning in 2023.
DDRS Advisory Council & 1102 Task Force
Legislators put into state statute the make-up of the Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services (DDRS) Advisory Council to ensure that an equal representation of self-advocates, families and service are at the table. The Arc of Indiana and Self-Advocates of Indiana are included in the make-up of the council. The new statute also defines the role of the council regarding advising DDRS and lays out what DDRS must report to the council, including Medicaid waiver application numbers, waiting list numbers and changes being made to waivers.
As a follow-up to last year’s historic investment in direct support professional (DSP) wages, legislators approved legislation requiring the Task Force for Assessment of Services and Supports for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (1102 Task Force) to:
- Create a plan to address the DSP workforce crisis, including training, certification and a workforce pipeline
- Develop a pilot program to improve the Community Integration and Habilitation (CIH) waiver approval and denial process
- Review the DSP incident reporting process, including how the Bureau of Developmental Disability Services (BDDS) can better communicate and update service providers about incident reports
There was a great deal of debate throughout the session regarding managed care as the state looks to move individuals 65 and older receiving long term services and supports (LTSS) into managed care. This is a complex issue and legislators are still trying to fully grasp the concept. They put a minor hold on this change by barring the state from moving LTSS into managed care until January 2023. This gives advocates and stakeholders more time to meet with legislators on this issue.
Currently, infants receiving First Steps program have to wait for their service plan to be signed by a doctor. Waiting for a doctor to approve and sign the service plan can delay the start of therapies needed during a critical time of the infant’s development. Legislation was approved that will allow a physicians’ assistant or an advanced practice registered nurse to sign off on the service plan rather than waiting for a doctor’s signature.
Special Education Workforce
Every industry, including special education, is facing a workforce shortage. To address the special education workforce, legislation was approved that will allow a professional in the disability field to easily transition into the special education classroom after completing a teacher training program and passing all the required state tests to become a teacher.
Keep Up to Date
The Arc of Indiana accomplished a lot in the short nine-week session. We could not have done it without the help of our members, chapter leaders, families and self-advocates. We look forward to continuing to educate legislators about managed care and special education issues, as well as working with the 1102 Task Force on legislative recommendations for the 2023 session.
We encourage you to keep up to date by signing up to receive our weekly e-newsletter and state and federal public policy updates at: arcind.org/get-involved/sign-up.