Why Medicaid Has to Survive

By Mike Hyland, President and CEO

The inexplicable assault on Medicaid continues in the Trump administration and there is good reason for people to worry about it.  The President’s stated plan to gut Medicaid by almost a trillion dollars over a ten year period, while cutting taxes for millionaires, will eviscerate crucial programs that allow people with developmental disabilities to live safe and meaningful lives in community-based settings.  We should all wonder aloud why this population of marginalized people should be so brazenly abandoned.  After we wonder about it, we should be appalled.  We should also be gravely concerned for another forgotten group: the dedicated workforce of professionals who support these people in the community.

For too long already, we have allowed people who do the very difficult work of direct care to be almost entirely neglected by national policy makers.  Advocacy to guarantee legitimately livable wages and increases, affordable health care, access to higher education and professional development too often fall on deaf ears in Washington D.C.  Publicly, officials praise the incredible work being done by so many committed professionals.  Privately, they do little to support this workforce.  Now, astonishingly, the Trump administration is dismissing these professionals and the value of their skills by proposing a budget that will make it virtually impossible for them to get paid appropriately for the vital work they do every day.

According to the Baker administration, a cut of this magnitude would cost Massachusetts approximately $1.5 billion in the first year alone.  Obviously, this kind of cut cannot be absorbed under current revenue collections, meaning that the state will have to significantly cut programs for developmentally disabled people or significantly raise taxes or, more likely, do both.  The needs of an already underpaid workforce will certainly not be prioritized in state contracts under such conditions because the money won’t be there.  We already have a genuine workforce crisis in the field of human services in this country.  By obliterating the funding mechanism that pays direct care professionals, the Trump White House is saying loud and clear that the new administration values the wealthy above the disabled and those who do so much to help them.  How sad that after so many years of advances in overcoming disabilities, stigma, bullying, isolation, and discrimination, the disability community now faces its greatest threat from people elected to help them.  How sad that the dedicated people who work tirelessly to this day to make these advances possible stand to be abandoned by those who once promised unequivocally not to cut Medicaid.

It is totally irrelevant where the plans to cut Medicaid by such a staggering amount originate.  The position, the political party, the individual, or the special interest group that encourages such devastation doesn’t matter.  Anyone who plans to do harm to so many must always be challenged and educated to understand what Medicaid truly does.  Such massive cuts as currently planned dangerously expose people who need help through no fault of their own.  Just as troubling, they signal a total dismissal of the very real needs of the many professionals who already sacrifice so much to help others.  These amazing men and women deserve much, much better than that.

Accessible Summer Activities

Click here to see all that is available this summer.

Summer info from the DCR’s Universal Access Program:

This beautiful weather we’ve been having has us looking forward to outdoor fun! Set sail with us into the summer recreation season! Take a seat in a kayak and paddle your way through warm, sunswept afternoons.

Cruise along the Quabbin Reservoir, observing the plentiful source of fish and wildlife or flip that kickstand up and go for a bike ride down the rail trail. Take to the green and perfect that golf swing or lace up those boots and go for a gentle hike along scenic trails.

Whatever activity you prefer, there’s something for everyone and we hope you join us for some fun in the sun in Massachusetts State Parks this summer!

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Announcing ADDP Awards for Venture Employees

Venture Community Services is proud to announce that two dedicated employees received awards at this year’s ADDP Conference and Expo on May 4 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Annmarie Addesa has won the Direct Support Professional Award for the Central region and Lindsey Dezotell was presented with the Continuing Education Scholarship Award.

Annmarie offers dignity and respect to the individuals she supports in her professional role at Venture Community Services. She follows procedures and policies while still paying close attention to the safety, health and happiness of the individuals she supports.  She works with the community to create new opportunities and groups for individuals both in her house and throughout the agency.  Her Splash Day at the Attleboro Art Museum allowed individuals from several Venture homes to gather and create expressive art. She is a standout during these events, making sure everyone is involved and enjoying their time with others.  Annmarie is always supportive of individuals served while ensuring that they are also able to be as independent as possible. “Annmarie is an example of everything this field needs in the means of direct care staff,” said Rahjene Berrio, House Manager at Venture Community Services. “She is caring, creative and supportive of all individuals she supports and proves time and time again her commitment to providing them with the opportunity to live the most fulfilling life possible.”

Lindsey has advanced from Residential Counselor to her current position as Staff Trainer, where she guides new staff and continues to encourage them in their new roles. Lindsey also is a full-time student at Bay Path University, where she pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She is passionate about investing in families and working with people with disabilities. “In her entry role, as a 19-year-old, Lindsey quickly demonstrated a hunger to gain more knowledge about bettering the lives of the people around her,” said Walter J. Davenport, Training Coordinator at Venture Community Services. “Because of her willingness to share her own learning disability, Lindsey was able to support me in creating a work environment that allowed team members to become more sensitive to fellow co-workers with disabilities, as well as the disabilities of the people we were supporting”.

The Framingham-based Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers is committed to ensuring, strengthening and promoting the viability of community-based organizations that support people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Return of Charity Golf Classic

Venture Community Services Announces the Return of the Charity Golf Classic

Popular Event returns on June 16th

 

Sturbridge | Uxbridge – Venture Community Services, one of the Commonwealth’s leading providers of innovative human services will hold its 20th annual Charity Golf Classic at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge on Friday, June 16th.  The shotgun start time will be at 9 a.m.

The cost is $540 per foursome (individuals can sign up for $135 per person) and includes morning coffee, green fees, golf cart, boxed lunch, Venture logo beach towel, complimentary cocktail and buffet dinner in the pavilion.  There will be contests held throughout the day in addition to a raffle and silent auction.

Proceeds will benefit programs and services at Venture and will provide greater opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in the community.  The current major sponsors for the event are:  Starkweather & Shepley, TD Bank, Fallon Health, MDG Employee Benefit Solutions and Southbridge Savings Bank.

For more information or to register or sponsor, please visit the Venture website at venturecs.org or contact Paige Mador at 774-922-1135

Who: Venture Community Services

What: Hosts the 20th Annual Charity Golf Classic

When: Friday, June 16, 2017 at 9:00 am

Where: Blissful Meadows Golf Club, 801 Chockalog Road, Uxbridge, MA

To Registerventurecs.org

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Annmarie Addesa wins ADDP Award

VENTURE’S ANNMARIE ADDESA PRESENTED DIRECT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL AWARD

Employee Cited for Outstanding Work From Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers

Venture Community Services’ Annmarie Addesa of Pawtucket, Rhode Island has won the Direct Support Professional Award for the Central region from the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers. Addessa received her award at the ADDP LEAD! Conference and Expo on May 4 at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Addesa offers dignity and respect to the individuals she supports in her professional role at Venture Community Services. Annmarie follows procedures and policies while still paying close attention to the safety, health and happiness of the individuals she supports. She works with the community to create new opportunities and groups for individuals both in her house and throughout the agency. Her Splash Day at the Attleboro Art Museum allowed individuals from several Venture homes to gather and create expressive art. She is a standout during these events, making sure everyone is involved and enjoying their time with others. Annmarie is always supportive of individuals served while ensuring that they are also able to be as independent as possible.

“Annmarie is an example of everything this field needs in the means of direct care staff,” said Rahjene Berrio, House Manager at Venture Community Services. “She is caring, creative and supportive of all individuals she supports and proves time and time again her commitment to providing them with the opportunity to live the most fulfilling life possible.”

“Direct Support Professionals like Annmarie are the foundation of the human services sector in Massachusetts,” said Gary Blumenthal, the President and Chief Executive Officer of ADDP. “There are hundreds of thousands of people living with disabilities in Massachusetts who rely on Direct Support Professionals to provide a wide variety of critical services that allow them to live more independent lives. Annmarie and her colleagues enable this to happen every day all across our Commonwealth.”

The Framingham-based ADDP is committed to ensuring, strengthening and promoting the viability of community-based organizations that support people with developmental disabilities and their families. www.addp.org

Venture Community Services is committed to providing compassionate, person-centered services that assist individuals and families in reaching their goals. What began as an organization with two small group homes has grown into one of the largest human service providers in Massachusetts, and with over 700 employees, one of the largest employers in the Worcester County area. Venture encourages independence through a continuum of support which includes community residential services, day programs, supported employment, transportation, autism supports, adult foster care, and shared living. www.venturecs.org

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Lindsey Dezotell Award

WORCESTER’S LINDSEY DEZOTELL PRESENTED CONTINUING EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

Employee of Venture Community Services Cited for Outstanding Work From Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers

 

Worcester’s Lindsey Dezotell from Venture Community Services has won the Continuing Education Scholarship Award from the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers. Dezotell received her award at the ADDP Lead! Conference and Expo on May 4 at the DCU Center in Worcester. The $1,000 grant is given to human service workers dedicated to advancing their education.

Dezotell has advanced from Residential Counselor to her current position as Staff Trainer, where she guides new staff and continues to encourage them in their new roles. Lindsey also is a full-time student at Bay Path University, where she pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She is passionate about investing in families and working with people with disabilities.

“In her entry role, as a 19-year-old, Lindsey quickly demonstrated a hunger to gain more knowledge about bettering the lives of the people around her,” said Walter J. Davenport, Training Coordinator at Venture Community Services. “Because of her willingness to share her own learning disability, Lindsey was able to support me in creating a work environment that allowed team members to become more sensitive to fellow co-workers with disabilities, as well as the disabilities of the people we were supporting”.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people living with disabilities in Massachusetts who rely on support to provide a wide variety of critical services that allow them to live more independent live,” said Gary Blumenthal, the President and Chief Executive Officer of ADDP. “Lindsey’s commitment to affect change in the human services world shows how a little support can be very important to the lives of many.”

The Framingham-based ADDP is committed to ensuring, strengthening and promoting the viability of community-based organizations that support people with developmental disabilities and their families. www.addp.org

Venture Community Services is committed to providing compassionate, person-centered services that assist individuals and families in reaching their goals. What began as an organization with two small group homes has grown into one of the largest human service providers in Massachusetts, and with over 700 employees, one of the largest employers in the Worcester County area. Venture encourages independence through a continuum of support which includes community residential services, day programs, supported employment, transportation, autism supports, adult foster care, and shared living.  www.venturecs.org

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Don’t Betray Innocent People

By Mike Hyland, President and CEO

Once again there is a bill in Washington that would replace the Affordable Care Act with another version of health care policies, regulations, and practices.  Obviously, this is a heated political issue and will likely remain so for many years – but the politics of it tend to obscure an important fact: the current bill, like the last failed bill, will unequivocally harm people with disabilities and the professionals who support them.  In other words, it betrays innocent people.

The proposed bill will punch holes in Medicaid funding that individual states will not be able to fill.  With cuts of almost $850 billion over the next ten years, people with disabilities and their advocates once again find themselves (for the second time in a year that is barely four months old) in danger of being left behind.  In fact, given that this is the second bill in 2017 that threatens them, it would appear that a good many people in Congress are also choosing to simply say that these people just don’t matter.  How in the world can that be okay in this country?

Medicaid is a $600 billion annual program that contains many provisions and it is probably time for the program to be evaluated in terms of efficiency and outcomes.  Nonetheless, converting it to a block grant or per capita program goes well beyond that.  It destroys safety nets and opportunities for people with disabilities and turns a blind eye to the work force that has battled for years to be recognized with appropriate pay and benefits for the valuable work they do and have always done.  Drastic reductions to Medicaid funding undeniably makes it even harder to support professionals who are already stretched too thin.  Clearly, these proposed Medicaid cuts are tantamount to Congress and the new administration telling this workforce that what they do isn’t important.  At best, the people proposing this latest bill just don’t understand what this industry does.  At worst, they just don’t care.

People with developmental disabilities rely on current levels of funding to stay safe, to remain in a community of choice, to get to work programs, and to access wellness and recreation.  It’s utterly baffling that this would be a group that politicians seem to have deemed as needing less than they get now.  We’ll ignore the reality that savings realized from service cuts to disabled people are intended to fund a tax cut for people making a million dollars a year and up.  That’s an issue to be taken up elsewhere.  What needs to be talked about is the reality that the current legislation, as written, will take away from people who essentially have the least.  People with developmental disabilities already struggle to work, to get adequate health care, to have reliable transportation, to develop social networks, and to be heard.  They also are victims of abuse and neglect at a higher rate than the general population.  So why does Washington believe that reducing programs that support them is a good idea?  No one seems willing to answer that question, particularly those who when campaigning pledged not to cut Medicaid.  The hypocrisy is staggering!

The ACA is obviously a hot button issue that will remain so for a long time to come.  It’s expensive and it is the duty of elected officials to examine it and anything else that divides so many people.  But don’t do something that harms people who are ignored far too often.  Don’t turn back the clock and wipe out years of progress on so many fronts for people with developmental disabilities.  Hey Washington – don’t betray innocent people.


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