Disability Advocates Call on Insurance Companies to Protect Autism Services

For Immediate Release


Disability Advocates Call on Insurance Companies to Protect Autism Services

Lincoln, Nebraska, July 29, 2020 – Families of individuals with disabilities were informed in May that many would no longer receive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) at the Munroe-Meyer Institute that is vital for children with disabilities starting in September. ABA is an evidence-based practice that helps children with disabilities address deficits in social skills or self-care skills, or other behavioral concerns. This elimination of services came because of low reimbursement rates from Amerigroup, and Optum/UBH’s Commercial Plan (they are continuing with their Medicaid contract rates). The current reimbursement rates are below the cost to provide the services. Munroe- Meyer Institute, a leading provider of these services in Nebraska, has taken losses before; however, in the pandemic can no longer afford to take such heavy losses. While Tri-Care rates were also below market value, however, Tricare has adjusted their rates to ensure ongoing access from families, the other two companies have not.


This means that approximately a hundred families will no longer be able to receive ABA services. For the children affected, this may cause humongous setbacks in important skill-building. Families like Angela Gleason, who said, “My son Teddy who has autism was nonverbal up until three years ago. We’ve had to piece together services for Teddy. 

ABA has helped him with his ability to speak and some behavioral issues. I’m afraid that if he stops receiving these services that he will slide back. In particular, with the pandemic that he will begin to lose social skills, he has lost progress on his speech, and he may become a safety concern.”

“This is unacceptable,” said Edison McDonald Executive Director of The Arc of Nebraska. “ABA services have long been under attack, which is why in 2014 Governor Heineman signed into law LB 254 a bill requiring insurance companies to cover ABA Services. Companies who are shifting rates below the cost to provide these services in an attempt to sidestep this law. It’s time for insurance companies to ensure families have access to the services that they need.”


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Coalition Calls for NSEA to End Support of Discriminatory Policy


Lincoln- During a virtual event last week calling for  educational equity, the Nebraska State Education Association expressed continued support for LB 147, a bill that would increase the use of exclusionary discipline practices in schools and exempt teachers and other school officials from liability if a child is injured from physical intervention by an adult in a school setting.   In response, a coalition of organizations is calling for the Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA) to   withdraw its support of the bill.

Coalition members include The Arc of Nebraska, The ACLU of Nebraska, Voices for Children, and Education Rights Counsel.

The policy changes contained in LB 147 would not only harm individual students but also exacerbate systemic disparities in school discipline.  According to The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, Nebraska’s Black students are overrepresented among students who are physically restrained. Likewise, about eight in 10 of all Nebraska kids who are physically restrained are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In addition, Black students and students with disabilities are disproportionately subject to out-of-school suspensions.

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Re-Opening and People With Disabilities


To Whom It May Concern,


As Nebraska considers when and how to re-open businesses and state services, the Nebraska Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities urges strong state and local actions to protect high risk populations and public health.

COVID-19 has shown to be particularly dangerous to people with disabilities, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions. Those who reside or receive services in congregate settings have been shown to be at extreme risk of contracting COVID-19.

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DHHS Appendix K

Nebraska DHHS has submitted their Appendix K amendments to CMS.  These will be the adjustments made by the state in reaction to the Corona Virus Pandemic.  While these still have to be approved by CMS we expect this will significantly be the changes made. 

DD Comprehensive Waiver

DD Day Waiver

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NCCD Corona Virus Guide

NCCD CoronaVirus Guide


Right now everyone is in a state of reaction to the CoronaVirus.  We know for individuals with disabilities and families with a child with a disability, there are many extra concerns.  Please know that we are still working to find ways to help assure the safety, health, and well being of people with disabilities.  If you come across an issue that needs addressed, please contact a member agency.


Member agencies continue working to protect and support individuals with disabilities during these uncertain and rapidly changing times.  For instance, member agencies have been working on important issues like ensuring access to medications, access to providers, preventing utility shut offs, preventing evictions, educating families, working to coordinate a variety of other organizations, protecting voting, advocating at the state, ensuring the safety of individuals with disabilities in a variety of ways.  Now we are gearing up to serve you as situations change.


We hope the following resources may be helpful for individuals, family members, caregivers, service providers and anyone that may be seeking resources for children or adults with disabilities.


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Family Support Waiver

This week we have a very important hearing.  The hearing for LB 1204 The Family Support Waiver will be at 1:30 on the 19th at the State Capitol. We need as many people there as possible sharing their stories of our broken system and how this can help fix it.  Below is a graphic to help understand the Family Support Waiver.  We've also attached a sample email for you to submit testimony to the committee.

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Olmstead Plan Comments

Below is our comments on the Olmstead Plan draft.  If you have comments you would like to add you can email nebraskaolmstead@tacinc.org to see the draft plan click here.  These are just initial comments on an evolving plan.  We hope this is realistic, quantitative, has serious actions, and is followed up on.

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Share of Cost Update

Emergency Alert- Share of Cost!!!


We have been diligently working to protect families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from Share of Cost Assessments. We helped many families avoid the cost administratively. However, some were still being charged improperly. So we helped fund a court case to work to overturn these decisions. Then we won the case!


However, now the department is coming back to change the section of regulations so that they can charge a Share of Cost. This decison could re-expand the people who could have Share of Cost Assessments applied. We are still assessing the impacts of these modifications, however, were just alerted to the hearing tomorrow morning at 10 am. Please come to the hearing or email comments ASAP.


September 25, 2019, 10:00 am Central Time Gold’s Building - Room 534 1033 O Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

If you can’t make it, then please email dhhs.regulations@nebraska.gov





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End The Waiting List



Contact: Edison McDonald, Executive Director, The Arc of Nebraska, 402-475-4407 or edison@arc-nebraska.org

Disability Advocates Kick Off Grassroots Campaign to Ensure Access to Vital Services

Lincoln, Nebraska, July 2, 2019 – “Nebraska is at a crossroads with its obligation to Nebraska citizens with developmental disabilities. Several Nebraska Senators have recognized the urgent need to develop a strategic plan to address the current and future needs of citizens with DD and their families.” This is what the 2008 LR 156 report said over a decade ago.  Yet we have instead allowed this waiting list to grow and vulnerable Nebraskans to go without vital services.

In reaction to this disability advocates are taking up a new grassroots drive to end the Developmental Disability Waiting List.  “It is absolutely unacceptable that we have over 2,332 Nebraskans with disabilities who are not receiving these vital supports.” Said Edison McDonald Executive Director for The Arc of Nebraska.  They have been forced onto a waiting list that could require them to wait for years to access vital services.  This waiting list forces them to consider more expensive and segregated settings.  This average cost per Nebraskan with a disability could be hundreds of thousands of dollars per citizen with disability.  We must do better.

Launching off a petition drive, community conversations, and careful research of the issue advocates are ready to take on this significant issue for Nebraskans with Disabilities.  The first community conversation will happen at the annual Disability Pride Event at The Nebraska State Capitol on July 12th at 1pm.  For more information please refer to https://www.arc-nebraska.org/end_the_waiting_list


About The Arc of Nebraska

For over 60 years, The Arc of Nebraska has provided advocacy to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. A nonprofit organization governed by a Board of Directors, The Arc has more than 1,500 members across the state.

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Restraint Bill Updates

AM 1750 to LB 147: The Restraint Bill


LB 147 is out of Committee due to the Pull Motion now it is headed to General File and we need you to raise your voice to oppose this bill still!  Your calls made a difference and are the reason why he only barely made it through.


Senator Groene has been attempting to pull LB 147 the Restraint Bill out of committee through any method possible.  We have been able to stop him from getting it out of committee through the regular process!  However, now he has called for a Pull Motion that means that he can skip the committee process and bring it straight to the floor if he can get 25 votes on Tuesday, May 21 at 1:30 pm. The conversation will hopefully now revolve around AM 1750 an amendment that we worked on that helps to improve the bill.  However, even with this amendment, not enough of our concerns are alleviated.  As a parent said, “I would be scared to send my child to school if this law passed.”  We represent people with disabilities and their families and will stand up for their safety.

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