Arkansas Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

inclusion. integration. independence.


Legislative and Policy Updates

UPDATE: Tuesday, October 09, 2018:


I wanted to share this excellent letter to the editor of the Washington Post from Donna Meltzer, CEO, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. Her op-ed highlights State Councils on DD and the recent federal appropriations bill! Efforts to educate the public on the DD Act and the role of Councils is critical in my view…so the Council has increased our awareness and outreach efforts over the past 18 months! The Arkansas DD Network (GCDD, DRA & UA Partners) collaborative projects have been successful in addressing some of our state plan goals & objectives of awareness and education for inclusion, independence, and systems change. Governor Hutchinson has contributed also by his personal support and resources. We continue our mission of advocating to improve the lives of individuals with functional and access needs!!! Please click op-ed link or read below:

 Washington Post Article

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director
Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

COMMENTARY - Published by the Washington Post October 5, 2018

The Washington Post


October 5, 2018

 This Year, the Appropriations Process Worked for People with Developmental Disabilities

The Sept. 29 news article “Trump signs bill that averts shutdown, sets up border wall fight” gave scant attention to a rare bipartisan victory that will help people with developmental disabilities. The spending bill does much more than “avert” a government shutdown. For the first time since 1997, Congress passed the spending bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments ahead of the fiscal year deadline. Just in time for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, this law includes funding for the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities that use their federal funding to invest in local projects that increase access to inclusive employment, education, housing and transition services for people with developmental disabilities and more. These programs can now operate without the threat of continuing resolutions that previously hurt commerce and innovation by creating massive uncertainty and additional administrative cost.

When the appropriations process works, it allows us to engage state, local, nonprofit and for-profit partners to fill gaps in services for people with developmental disabilities, just as Congress intended when it passed the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act more than 50 years ago authorizing these funds. I hope Congress and the president will continue to pass timely appropriations in the years to come.

Donna Meltzer, Washington, D.C.

The writer is chief executive of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.



UPDATE: Wednesday, August 1, 2018


COMMENTARY - Published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette July 30, 2018

Information Contact:  Eric Munson, Executive Director, 501-682-2912,

Arkansas leading in job training for individuals with developmental disabilities; Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities supports continued advances

An Arkansas that provides more employment opportunities and resources to individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) is imperative to keeping Arkansas a model state for workforce inclusion.

A report conducted by U.S. News & World Report ranked Arkansas No. 1 for individuals with DD to be employed due to educational and training opportunities offered across the state. The state’s DD Network boasts a long list of organizations and agencies dedicated to creating opportunities for inclusion, integration and independence. The No. 1 ranking is a testament to their work.

At the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, we are committed to supporting the state’s DD Network, so that it can continue to serve individuals with DD and their families with the highest level of needed services. Together with the DD Network, we oversee the implementation of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act) in Arkansas, which provides funds so that people with DD have access to and participate in all aspects of community life, including integrated employment, an integral option within the continuum of opportunities and services available to individuals with DD.

The most impressive thing I’ve seen among those in the DD community is their determination and passion to contribute to our state’s workforce. And there are several stand-out examples of programs preparing people with DD for work.

In Hot Springs, the Arkansas Career Training Institute is a 24-hour rehabilitation center offering vocational training and certifications in welding, cosmetology and culinary arts. And, through the University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech’s 3D program, individuals with DD receive hands-on lab practice, planning, instruction and student mentoring while working toward obtaining certification in culinary and hospitality. The program also provides individuals with DD critical thinking training and workplace professionalism skills.

Large corporations such as Walgreens have made strides to be inclusive and provide proper job training for individuals with DD and make the efforts sustainable. With Transitional Work Group Program and Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative, Walgreens has been able to retain employees, tap into a diverse pool of workforce talent and grow its knowledge about its DD customer base. Disability or not, Walgreens’ expectations are the same for its employees: they are held at the same workplace standards and paid at the same rate. Anderson University conducted a case study on the two Walgreens distribution centers where 38 percent of employees were individuals with DD and found that the centers had a higher rate of productivity and innovation thanks to their cultivated atmosphere.

Arkansas has gained a chapter of the U.S. Business Leadership Network that is “driving success through disability inclusion.” Corporations such as J.B. Hunt, Murphy USA, Walmart, Tyson and T.J. Maxx have joined this national network to provide employment opportunities to individuals with DD.  T.J. Maxx in North Little Rock has already seen the benefits of hiring individuals with DD.

The Council will continue to increase awareness of the value of hiring individual with DD. We want individuals with DD to work, to be independent and to be active, contributing members of their communities. If we can raise awareness and educate those around us, including business owners, we can give a lot of people with DD the ability to advocate for themselves and gain competitive employment. If we can accomplish this, we will have done a very positive thing.

Please remember that individuals with DD want to be treated with respect and listened to just like anyone else. They have feelings. They want to work. They want to live independently. They want to be part of the community. They want to talk about the Razorbacks.



UPDATE: Monday, June 25, 2018


NEWS - For Immediate Release

Information Contact:  Eric Munson, Executive Director, 501-682-2912,

Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities meets federal compliance bar, is better positioned to support the Arkansas DD community into the future

 LITTLE ROCK (June 25, 2018) – The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities’ three and one-half years early completion of a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) has paved the way for the Council to move forward in overseeing the implementation of the federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (DD Act).

 “It is exciting to know the dedication and hard work by our Council have allowed us to accelerate the completion of our CAP and to do so far ahead of schedule,” said Eric Munson, the Council’s executive director. “We hope other states seeking to make turnarounds will view Arkansas as a model and use some of our best practices to help them achieve success.”

 The completion of the CAP brought Arkansas’s Council into compliance with the DD Act. This allowed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to remove the “high-risk” status that was placed on the Council in 2015.

 “The Council’s turnaround is phenomenal,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “Just three years ago, the federal Department of Health and Human Services classified the Council as ‘high risk,’ cut funding and limited its activities. Through its strong leadership and hard work, a completely revamped Council responded to the challenge and resolved critical issues. Congratulations and thank you to the Council for overcoming the obstacles and leading the way. This is the way Arkansas does things.”

 The DD Act provides federal funds so that people with developmental disabilities has access to and participates in all aspects of community life. The Council – alongside partners in the statewide DD Network – oversees the implementation of the DD Act in Arkansas by connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the resources and programs they need to be independent, productive, integrated and included into all parts of community life.

 The current Council was created by Governor Hutchinson via an Executive Order on July 30, 2015. The governor’s action came after AIDD and ACL suspended the Council’s authority to administer federal program funds to support implementation of the DD Act in Arkansas. He appointed an all-new, 23-member governing board; a new executive director, Eric Munson of Little Rock, and three new staff members were hired.

 “The Council’s diligent work and great accomplishment have allowed us to look to the future for Arkansans with developmental disabilities by creating opportunities for integration, inclusion and independence,” Council Chairman Chris Johnson said.

 “The support from key leaders, including the governor, of the developmental disabilities community through the Council’s work creates opportunities for advocacy, capacity-building and systems change to flourish. …” Sheryl Matney, director of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities’ Information & Technical Assistance Center for Councils on Developmental Disabilities. “The Council is addressing complex issues and developing and fostering key relationships with stakeholders working on issues important to people with developmental disabilities and their families.”

For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, visit and follow on Facebook and Twitter.



UPDATE: Friday, June 22, 2018 


June 22, 2018
A Milestone for Community Living: Reflecting on 19 Years of Olmstead

By Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

The right to live independently, integrated into the community, is a cornerstone of the disability rights movement. It's also the core of the mission for the Administration for Community Living - it's even built into our name. ACL was created around the fundamental principle that all people, regardless of age or disability, should be able to live independently and fully participate in their communities.

For decades, people with disabilities have worked to turn this principle into a reality. Looking at this history, certain moments stand out as turning points. For example, the passage and implementation of landmark legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act have each helped make community living possible for more Americans.

Today, we celebrate the anniversary of another important milestone. Nineteen years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v L.C. that people with disabilities cannot be unnecessarily segregated into institutions (like nursing homes and other facilities) and must receive services in the most integrated setting possible.

The Olmstead decision opened the door to innovations and programs that make services and supports more available, allowing people to live the lives they choose, in the communities they choose, with family and friends. It also has given the aging and disability networks a new tool to advance community living. I am proud of the work ACL, the predecessor organizations it brought together in 2012, and the many organizations we fund have done to fulfill Olmstead's promise and make a difference in peoples' lives.



UPDATE: Wednesday, March 21, 2018


NACDD received the numbers for the FY 2018 Omnibus which Congress is currently completing. The DD Councils have been given a $3million increase finally reaching our goal of $76m. Our sister programs, the UCEDDs and P&As received a $2million increase and PNS received a $2million increase as well. This news shows that Congress really values the DD Act programs and our contributions to systems change. NACDD expects this omnibus to be completed within a few days. More on that and the prognosis for FY ’19 soon.

Donna A. Meltzer, CEO

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

1825 K Street, NW Suite 600

Washington, DC 20006

202-506-5813 extension 103


UPDATE: Thursday, January 18, 2018


NACDD Statement on OIG Report-For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Donna Meltzer, CEO,


WASHINGTON – Today, the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Inspector General released a report on widespread abuse in group homes for people with developmental disabilities. While it is important to shed light on and appropriately address such deplorable abuse, NACDD believes that the ability and opportunity to live independently in the community remains an important civil right.

This report about the abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities living in group homes is certainly cause for alarm and signals the need for a rededication to ensuring everyone has the freedom to live safe from harm. However, we are concerned that some see this as a call for returning to the time when people with I/DD were placed in institutions and hidden away from the community.

“It is life in the community that really is safest,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. “When people live, work and play in the community they are visible and folks look out for them and know when something is wrong.”

As Congress and the courts have made clear, society’s instinct to isolate and segregate individuals with disabilities is a form of discrimination, which continues to be a serious and pervasive social problem. Our tragic history of institutions, begun with the best of intentions, resulted in facilities that largely did a great disservice to people with I/DD. Even today, smaller homes that are essentially mini institutions are problematic as evidenced by this report.

“We have the benefit of years of research and outcome studies that show most people with disabilities who have moved from institutions into community environments have made significant gains in adapting to the freedom enjoyed by persons without disabilities. The strong bonds created between people with and without disabilities integrated in the community has led to better outcomes for everyone,” said Meltzer. “There are fiscal and practical challenges with community living, too. State and federal budget cuts have made it harder to provide high quality services and supports in the community. However, returning to the dark days of segregating people with disabilities in asylums is not the answer. Fully funding our commitment to community living is our future.”

NACDD serves as the national voice of state and territorial Councils on Developmental Disabilities. We support Councils in implementing the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and promote the interests and rights of people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Read the full report here.


UPDATE: Wednesday, December 20, 2017


115th Congress DD Act Partners Policy Priorities

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities and National Disability Rights Network released the Policy Priorities for the 115th Session of Congress for 2017.

View Policy Priorities here.


UPDATE: Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Arkansas Times Article

Arkansas Times - Arkansas Blog

Governor Trumpets Reduction of Developmental Disability Waiting List via Tobacco Settlement Fund

Posted By David Ramsey on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 6:04 PM

Gov. Hutchinson spoke before the state's Tobacco Settlement Commission's quarterly meeting today, trumpeting his effort to redirect some of the unused tobacco settlement money to reduce the number of people stuck on a waiting list for a Medicaid waiver program that provides home- and community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities (DD).

The legislature this year passed Act 50, backed by the governor, which diverted $8.5 million from the settlement fund to the Alternative Community Services Waiver Program. Because the federal government also pays for a portion of the program, this also triggered the release of $20 million from the feds (providing the waiver program costs around $50,000 per person per year; the state has to pay 30 percent of those costs, with the feds picking up the rest).

These funds allowed the state to reduce the DD waiting list — which previously had 3,000 families on it — by 500. That still leaves a significant number of families without access to services, which Hutchinson acknowledged today:

This is a great success story. Of course, we can’t stop with the 500 families. My goal today is to eliminate that waiting list, and you all started that process.

In March of 2016, the governor promised to cut the wait list in half within three years.

The $8.5 million in question previously funded AR Health Networks, a small health insurance program that was rendered obsolete when Arkansas began making subsidized insurance available to almost all low-income citizens via Medicaid expansion.

A bit of background that must be noted: Funding to reduce or eliminate the wait list and provide services that families desperately need has long been available via the Affordable Care Act's Community First Choice Option, but Arkansas legislators have prioritized symbolic opposition to Obamacare and refused to seek that federal funding stream (certain current stakeholders, such as private nursing homes and human development centers, also oppose CFCO).

Hutchinson said last year that CFCO was "off the table."


UPDATE: Thursday, November 30, 2017


DD Councils Addressing Sexual Abuse and Neglect

Dear DD Council Network members,

We are pleased to announce the availability of a special publication about the work of DD Councils in the area of Sexual Abuse and Neglect.  We would like to thank the following Councils for their collaboration on this important project: Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virginia, and West Virginia. Special publications are part of the Technical Assistance contract tasks designed to provide information and awareness about a variety of important topics.

View special publication here.


UPDATE: Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. Below is a link to a paper issued by the CCD on the Top 5 Reasons the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is Bad for People with Disabilities.


You can find more information from the CCD at


UPDATE: Monday, October 23, 2017:

The first three Arkansas licensed PASSEs (Provider-led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity) are - 
Arkansas Total Care, Inc. 
Arkansas Advanced Care, Inc. 
Empower Healthcare Solutions, LLC


Kerr Approves Three New Provider-Led Companies

First companies licensed under Act 775

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr today released the following statement announcing that he has granted Certificates of Authority to three new domestic companies under the provisions of Act 775 of 2017, the Medicaid Provider-Led Organized Care Act:

“I am proud to issue the first licenses to provider-led organizations under Act 775 and welcome them as domestic insurance companies.  These companies have demonstrated initial financial resources and organizational structure as well as adequate network coverage as deemed by the Department of Human Services.  This is an important step for Arkansas in establishing a unique system to serve Medicaid beneficiaries.”

Kerr granted authority to Arkansas Total Care, Inc. (ATC), a newly formed Arkansas-based For Profit Corporation, to be a domestic Risk-Based Provider Organization under Act 775 and AID Rule 117.  ATC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Total Care Holding Company, LLC.  The ownership of the holding company is held by Mercy Health System, LifeShare Management Group, and Arkansas Health & Wellness Health Plan Inc.  LifeShare and AHWHP are owned by Centene Corporation.  Centene, a Fortune 500 company, is a multi-national healthcare enterprise that provides programs and services to government sponsored healthcare programs, focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Mercy serves millions annually and its system includes 44 acute care and specialty hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities and over 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. LifeShare develops and delivers person-centered solutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through manage care, state, and health organizations across multiple states. AHWHP is an Arkansas domestic health maintenance organization.  ATC’s statutory home office will be located at 1 Allied Drive, Suite 2520 in Little Rock.

Kerr granted authority to Arkansas Advanced Care, Inc. (AAC), a newly formed Arkansas-based For Profit Corporation, to be a domestic Risk-Based Provider Organization under Act 775 and AID Rule 117.  AAC will be owned and operated by Baptist Health, Bost, Inc., the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and USAble Corporation.  The members of AAC advocate the goal to ensure that Arkansas’s residents receive the high quality, efficient care with innovative delivery and payment arrangements and population health programs to help transform Arkansas to an organized system of care.  AAC’s owners are headquartered in Arkansas and rooted in a not for profit mission of delivering healthcare to Arkansas residents. The company’s statutory home office will be located at 320 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 211 in Little Rock.

Kerr also granted authority to Empower Healthcare Solutions, LLC (EHS), a newly formed Arkansas-based For Profit Corporation, to be a domestic Risk-Based Provider Organization under Act 775 and AID Rule 117.  EHS is a group of seven members that advocate the goals of formation to include creating a provider-led organized care system to improve the experience of health care for Medicaid individuals, enhancing the performance of the broader healthcare system, reversing the spending growth for Medicaid individuals, and encouraging the most efficient use of taxpayer funds. The seven members of EHS are Beacon Health Options, Inc., Woodruff Health Group, LLC, Independent Case Management, Inc., Preferred Family Healthcare, Inc., Arkansas Community Health Network, LLC, The Arkansas Healthcare Alliance, LLC, and Statera, LLC.  Beacon is an independent privately-owned company and one of the nation’s largest organizations that assesses and address the clinical needs of individuals who are experiencing mental illness, addiction, and developmental disabilities.  EHS’s statutory home office will be located at 400 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 1711 in Little Rock.

A total of five entities expressed interest in forming provider-led organizations under Act 775.  So far this year, Kerr has granted authority to 23 new companies.

For a printer-firendly version of this document click here.


UPDATE: Friday, September 29, 2017:


NACDD is excited to inform you all that NACDD has hired a new Director of Public Policy, Erin Prangley, J.D. Erin comes to us most recently of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) where she was Associate Director for Public Policy and Government Relations. Previously Erin has also worked on the Hill for two different Members of Congress serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counsel as well as Staff Director and Staff Director for the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues and Legislative Counsel.

Erin hails originally from the State of California where she has also managed her own legal practice and served as district director for The Honorable Brad Sherman. She has also taught an undergraduate course “Women in the Law” at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Erin lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband and 11-year old daughter.

Erin began her work at NACDD on Monday, September 18. Her email is



UPDATE: Tuesday, October 10, 2017:


Below is an update on what’s going on in Washington, DC. Our NACDD staff is monitoring federal legislation for us and other state councils. Remember, this is NACDD’s position and opinion on issues coming out of our nation’s capital. We will continue to educate members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation on these issues their impact the DD community. We will address these issues and others through our Public Policy & Outreach Committee and Committee Chairman Mark George. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

Federal Updates:

NACDD Opposed House Budget Resolution -

Last Thursday, the House passed a FY2018 budget resolution by a 219-206 vote. A total of 18 Republicans voted against the resolution, along with all the Democrats. The House budget sets federal spending at $4.2 trillion and calls for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs that set up a tax cut bill to progress through the Senate without being subject to a filibuster.

This non-binding House resolution instructs House committees to reduce Medicaid spending by $834 billion over 10 years and Medicare by $473 billion over 10 years and cut other non-discretionary programs. It adopts the “repeal and replace” approach to the Affordable Care Act, which would cause 23 million people to lose coverage within ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and make coverage worse or less affordable for millions more. It restructures Medicaid and ends Medicaid expansion. Medicare cuts are accomplished by shifting more health care costs to beneficiaries. The justification for these changes is that the House majority sees spending on Medicaid and Medicare as “unsustainable.” The House majority is pretty clear that these cuts are necessary to make way for the massive tax cuts that will be packaged and put up for votes in the next few weeks.

The Senate Budget Committee approved its version of the fiscal 2018 budget resolution on Thursday, on a party-line 12-11 vote. The Senate budget also assumes a massive $1.5 trillion tax cut, but adds to the deficit instead of following the House plan’s instructions to cut existing federal spending. We’ll have to watch the conference committee very closely to see whether the House, Senate, or some other approach prevails.

NACDD believes the budget should be passed in a bipartisan way through regular order. NACDD further believes that the House legislation is not bipartisan and will devastate Medicaid and Medicare, and a lot of other programs DD community relies on. People with disabilities need a bipartisan budget that protects Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and provides commensurate increases for both defense and nondefense spending.

NACDD Opposes ADA and Education Reform Act -

On October 2, NACDD signed on to a coalition letter opposing ADA and Education Reform Act. Persons with disabilities have long been marginalized and discriminated against by society and the ADA provided human and civil rights for our community. H.R. 620 significantly changes civil rights laws because for the first time in history, a protected class would have to provide notification of its intent to exercise their civil rights. No other protected class has to do this for public accommodations. Introduced by Rep. Poe (TX), the ADA and Education Reform Act would make it harder to enforce rights under Title III of the ADA to access public accommodations and integration in mainstream society by: 1) removing the incentive for businesses to comply with the ADA; 2) requiring a person with the disability to file a written notice specifying the exact ADA provisions that are being violated; 3) giving the business owner 60 days to acknowledge the notice and 120 additional days to begin to fix the violation; a total of 180 days (6 months!) to deny access.

Governor Brown signs legislation to improve Employment First -

California Governor Brown for signed legislation into law that will require the Employment Development Department to share data with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) regarding the status of persons with developmental disabilities accessing competitive integrated employment (CIE). Sponsored by the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, the new data collection will help understand and assess the progress towards people with developmental disabilities getting real work for real pay.

Upcoming Events and New Resources -

ADA National Network Webinar: How Functional Assessment Service Teams (FAST) are being implemented in 3 states. A Functional Assessment Service Team (FAST) can help people with disabilities get what they need to safely stay in a community shelter and to assist them to return home as soon as possible. The webinar will provide background as to what is FAST, why it might work in your community or state; and the future of FAST across the nation. California, Washington and Wisconsin will their share their experiences from their FAST journey.
Date: Thursday, October 12th, 2017 / Time: 1:30pm CST - Registration: Free on-line at
Registration closes at midnight, October 11th, 2017.


UPDATE: Tuesday, August 15, 2017


08/15/17 Arkansas Council (GCDD) comment letter to AIDD Commissioner Melissa Ortiz in response to the federal P3i proposal -

Summary:  A proposal is being considered that would create a new federal program called Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence. The reasons for creating the new program are:

• To reduce duplication of federal programs

• To reduce the federal budget

While the proposal to dissolve 3 existing disability programs may appear on the surface to reduce duplication and save money, the proposal doesn’t accomplish these goals. Without knowledge of the history and purpose of the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Statewide Independent Living Councils and State Advisory Boards on Traumatic Brain Injury, it may not be clear that these programs have distinct and unique purposes, and provide important linkages for citizens and state government to information about, evaluation of and access to services. The proposal to replace 3 existing programs with a new, broader and less focused program in federal government reverses 50 years of progress in the areas of developmental disabilities, self-advocacy and traumatic brain injury. The three programs should remain intact, under their authorizing legislation.

We believe it will be too difficult for the P3I program to consolidate the roles and responsibilities of the State DD Councils, SILCs and TBI programs with half the funding and retain what is now accomplished by the separate, specialized entities. It will be impossible for the P3I program to absorb all of these responsibilities and perform well. ACL’s P3I overview states that the new cross-disability state councils “will continue to engage in advocacy, capacity building and systems change to enhance the availability, quality and coordination of services and supports for persons with all types of significant disabilities and their families…” Furthermore, each state P3I Council would include, among other responsibilities:

Strategic priority setting based on data-driven planning;
Seeding innovation to promote system change and build capacity; and
Enhancing the availability, quality and coordination of services and supports that persons with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries and other significant disabilities of all ages and their families rely on to lead full lives in the community.

The State DD Councils have these responsibilities now and with limited funding, we are already forced to set priorities in order to be effective. It is not rational to expect that expanding this charge to all disabilities while cutting the funding by more than half will even remotely lead to success. Innovation, inclusion and independence will best be achieved by retaining the current structure of the State DD Councils – guided by the DD Act – with adequate and stable funding.

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

Chris Johnson, Chairman, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities


UPDATE: Thursday, July 27, 2017

Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) UPDATE:

The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget proposed a new grant program entitled Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence (PIII). This new program would combine the activities carried out by the State Developmental Disabilities Councils (DDC), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILC) and Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Councils (TBIAC) into a single state grant program by forming a statewide, cross-disability entity.


UPDATE: Monday, June 12, 2017


Commissioner Appointed for the Administration on Disabilities

Melissa Ortiz was appointed by President Trump to serve as Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities on June 12, 2017.

Melissa describes herself as a compassionate conservative who is enthusiastic about working with both sides of the aisle on behalf of Americans with disabilities. Throughout her life, she has been an active advocate for people with disabilities, working to ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to fully participate in society. She is particularly passionate about improving employment opportunities and eliminating barriers – such as a lack of accessible public transportation – that can prevent people with disabilities from being able to work. Since earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and broadcast communications in 1989, her career has included teaching in the Tennessee public school system and a variety of roles in government and politics. In 2011, she founded Able Americans, and through that organization has worked as a consultant on disability issues.

A native southerner who has spent periods of her life in Atlanta, Nashville, Jerusalem, and New York City, Melissa now lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Tony and her service dog, a dachshund named Annie Oakley.


UPDATE: Wednesday, May 31, 2017


The GCDD Public Policy & Outreach Committee meets tomorrow, June 1st, at 10:00 AM in preparation for the upcoming June 8th quarterly full Council business meeting. LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: We will receive a policy update from Cindy Smith of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) in Washington, DC.  Cindy will update us on the current happenings in the U.S. Senate around healthcare reform and Medicaid and on how we can amplify our voices about the real life impacts to people with disabilities on cuts and caps to Medicaid. This invite has been extended to all Council members to allow everyone interested in the NACDD update to participate.

Below is a link to Arkansas Medicaid statistics from AARP. The AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) is the focal point of public policy research, analysis and development at AARP. The Public Policy Institute informs and stimulates public debate on the issues we face as we age. The Institute promotes the development of sound, creative policies to address our common need for economic security, health care, and quality of life.

 Changing medicaid to a block grant or per capita Cap could effect Arkansans

For more reports from the Public Policy Institute, visit

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities


UPDATE: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NACDD Statement on President’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2018

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) has issued a statement on the budget released May 23rd by the White House for Fiscal Year 2018 titled, A New Foundation for American Greatness


UPDATE: Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) is the largest coalition of national organizations working together to advocate for federal public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. Below is a link to a paper issued by the CCD on Medicaid Per Capita Caps and Block Grants.

CCD on Medicaid Per Capita Caps and Block Grants

You can find more information from the CCD at


91st General Assembly of Arkansas

UPDATE: Monday, May 15, 2017

GCDD 2017 Legislative Session-End Update

At the state level, The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) monitors and provides education about proposed state legislation and policy changes that would affect Arkansans with disabilities and their families. This is your session updates wrap-up:

Arkansas First Extraordinary Session, 2017

Arkansas Works 2.0

• Act 6 – To Amend Arkansas Works To Reduce Income Eligibility Limits And Impose Work Requirements; To Allow The Flexibility To Select Whether To Become An "Assessment State" Or A "Determination State"; And To Declare An Emergency. This bill will make Arkansas Works more sustainable and help connect enrollees to job search and training resources available through the Department of Workforce Services. Sponsor: Senator Jonathan Dismang

Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace

• Act 5 – Concerning The Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace; To Study The Future Direction Of The Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace; And To Declare An Emergency. This bill will increase oversight and transparency of AHIM. It will also initiate a process of looking at options for evolving the marketplace in the future. Sponsor: Senator Jonathan Dismang

Arkansas Regular Session, 2017

Provider-Led Model

• Act 775 – To Create the Medicaid Provider-Led Organized Care Act. The transformation of Medicaid service delivery for the behavioral health and developmentally disabled populations was a recommendation of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force. This legislation enables a transformative model in Arkansas to provide greater efficiencies in the Medicaid program while incentivizing providers in Arkansas to coordinate care and deliver better health outcomes for beneficiaries than fee for service. Sponsor: Representative Aaron Pilkington

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)

• Act 46 – This bill allows for a practitioner within the Arkansas Medicaid program to access the PDMP database, as is currently allowed for certified law enforcement officers and regulatory bodies that license practitioners. Sponsor: Representative Justin Boyd

• Act 820 – This bill addresses the problem of over prescribing by mandating that prescribers check the PDMP when prescribing certain medications. The Act requires that prescribers check the PDMP database each time they prescribe an opioid from Schedule II or III, and the first time they prescribe a benzodiazepine. Language excludes practitioners who prescribe immediately before or during surgery, during recovery from surgery while in a healthcare facility, in a healthcare facility, in an emergency setting, or for patients in palliative or hospice care or a nursing home facility. Additionally, an oncologist is required to check the database on initial diagnosis and every three months after. If there is a technological or electrical failure, the practitioner is not required to check. The Board of Health may make changes to the exclusions by rule if they are determined to be too burdensome. The Director of the Department of Health and the PDMP Advisory Committee will develop prescribing criteria, and if information indicates misuse or abuse, the Department will produce quarterly reports to practitioners and dispensers involved. If, after a year, the information indicates the same, the Department will report to the applicable licensing boards. Sponsor: Senator Jeremy Hutchinson

• Act 688 – This bill clarifies the sharing of de-identified patient, prescriber, and dispenser information to public or private entities for statistical, research, or educational purposes. Additionally, it allows the Health Department to provide information from the PDMP to insurance carriers for the purpose of verifying prescriber and dispenser registration to the PDMP.  Sponsor: Senator Missy Irvin

Health Coverage for Marshallese Children

• HCR1012 – To Encourage The Governor To Submit A State Plan Amendment To The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services To Provide Access To Coverage For Migrant Children And Pregnant Women From The Compact Of Free Association Islands. This resolution was approved by the Governor and will provide a coverage option for certain legally residing residents in Arkansas, including Marshallese children and pregnant women. Sponsor: Representative Jeff Williams

Behavioral Health Transformation

• Act 699 – This Act codified the Rehabilitative Services for Persons with Mental Illness (RSPMI) Moratorium. This was a DHS bill and is part of the behavioral health transformation effort to improve quality and create savings. Sponsor: Senator Missy Irvin

Immunization Data Sharing

• Act 880 – This bill allows the Health Department to enter into data-sharing agreements with federal, state, and local jurisdictions, as well as nations of the Compact of Free Association, including the Marshall Islands, to share immunization data. The intent was to ensure effective surveillance and allow for better planning. Sponsor: Senator Eddie Cheatham

Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) Transfer to ADH

• Act 270 – This bill transfers the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology to the Department of Health. This bill was part of the Governor's legislative package to create efficiency in state government by realigning similar state efforts to provide better service. Sponsor: Senator Missy Irvin

Health Care Fraud

• Act 978 – To Clarify The Scope Of Healthcare Fraud; And To Update The Medicaid Fraud Act And The Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. This was a bill requested by the Attorney General’s office to lower the limits for classification of felonies when an offender is prosecuted for Medicaid fraud. Our team worked with providers, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General to ensure that the bill did not result in unintended negative consequences. The amended bill was agreeable to all interested parties and seen as a positive move forward. Sponsor: Senator David Sanders

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

• Act 518 – To Affirm The Legislative Authority Over Waivers For The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This bill, as originally drafted, would have inadvertently limited DHS’ ability to apply for waivers to strengthen the SNAP work requirement. We worked with the sponsor and the agency to resolve that issue prior to the bill running. Sponsor: Representative Austin McCollum

Chiropractic Services

Act 1092 – This Act allows Medicaid recipients direct access to a chiropractic physician without referral from a primary care physician. The Governor met with the sponsor and chiropractors, and requested that the bill be amended to increase access, but also ensure that DHS could help determine the appropriate service limits through rulemaking and to minimize any negative impact to DHS’ budget. Sponsor: Representative Jim Dotson

Other Bills that Did Not Pass:

State Innovation Waiver Authority

• HB1271 – Kim Hammer
To Create The Arkansas Health Insurance Innovation Act Of 2017; And To Declare An Emergency. This bill would have allowed DHS, AID, AHIM, and DFA (collectively or individually) to apply for state innovation waivers (1332 waivers) and Medicaid waivers (1115 waivers) without the consent of the governor. Our team, DHS, and the Governor had multiple conversations with Representative Hammer about our concerns with this bill and he decided not to run it.

DHS Budget, Reporting, and Organizational Requirements

• Josh Miller Bills
HB1465 – To Create the Medicaid Expansion Enrollment Freeze Act. Failed to pass Senate committee.
HB1653 – To Create The Developmental Disabilities Waiver Death Notification Act; And To Require The Department Of Human Services To Publish Concerning The Waiting List For The Alternative Community Services Waiver Program. This bill did not run.

• Bryan King Bills
SB434 – To Remove The Enrollment Caps In The Living Choices Assisted Living Medicaid Waiver Program. This bill would have removed the cap on a supplemental waiver that would have negatively impacted the DHS budget and DHS’ ability to ensure consistency and quality in these programs. The bill did not run.
SB252 – To Require The Department Of Human Services To Submit Monthly Financial Reports To The Legislative Council. Failed to pass House committee. This bill would have created an additional, unnecessary burden on a state agency to report monthly to ALC when quarterly reporting would suffice. This bill did not pass the House Committee.
SB355 – To Terminate The Medicaid Expansion Program. This bill did not run.

• SB492 – Alan Clark
To Establish The Office Of The Inspector General For The Department Of Human Services. This bill would have created an Inspector General division within DHS, but autonomous of the DHS Director. The bill would have required an additional appropriation to DHS and a negative impact on the state budget. The bill did not run.


• HB1865 – Jack Ladyman
This bill was an effort to amend the statewide fluoridation program to allow a public water authority that serves fewer than 22,000 users to determine whether or not to fluoridate. The usage of “public water authority” was confusing and the program determined the bill may have affected 7 systems. The Health Department spoke against this bill and it failed in committee.

• SB299 – Bryan King
This bill was another effort to dismantle the fluoridation program by removing the requirement of Act 197 of 2011 that stated that public water systems serving more than 5,000 customers are required to provide optimally fluoridated water. The decision to fluoridate would no longer be a state mandate but a local decision, with the election of “qualified electors in the water district to determine whether or not the water district shall fluoridate the water.” This bill did not run out of the Public Health Committee, but instead the Committee for City, County, and Local Affairs. The Health Department spoke against this bill and it was defeated in Committee.

Community Health Workers

• HB1257 – Chris Richey
This bill would have required the Department of Health to establish a program to certify community health workers in Arkansas. The Department would be responsible for establishing the program, developing a tracking database, issuing licenses/certifications, identifying and updating training opportunities, and investigating grievances. This would have had a significant fiscal impact on the Department, and in conversations with the sponsor, the Director suggested that another organization, like the Arkansas Community Health Workers Association, could be the entity to credential/provide accreditation for these individuals, instead of creating a new program within the Department. The bill was withdrawn by the sponsor and recommended for interim study by the Legislature.


UPDATE: Thursday, February 9, 2017

(Act 50) HB 1033 - which amends the Tobacco Settlement Proceed Act to extend medical assistance and community-based services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities - was signed into law by Governor Hutchinson becoming Act 50. The lead sponsor of HB 1033 was Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley). The bill passed both chambers without opposition. It will use a portion of Arkansas's tobacco settlement proceeds to expand the Alternative Community Services Waiver Program, which provides home- and community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Around 3,000 families are on the waiting list to receive waiver services. In September, when the governor announced his intention to use $8.5 million in tobacco settlement funds to reduce the waitlist, he estimated the list would be reduced by 500 to 900 people. DHS took a leadership role in supporting this legislation on behalf of the DD community. Council members Melissa Stone and Craig Cloud, both DHS division directors, worked diligently on HB1033 along with Council staff and members of the DD network – Partners and DRA. Thank you to our Council members who contacted their legislators in support of HB1033.

Bill History:
12-05-16 H Filed
01-09-17 H Introduced and referred to H-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-11-17 H Placed on the House calendar
01-11-17 H Amendment 1 adopted
01-17-17 H Meeting set for 10:00 a.m. - Room 130. H-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-17-17 H Reported from committee - Do pass H-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-19-17 H Placed on the House calendar
01-19-17 H On floor for consideration
01-19-17 H Passed (Vote: Y: 93/N: 0)
01-19-17 H Emergency clause adopted
01-19-17 S Received in the Senate - Referred to S-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-25-17 S Meeting set for 10:00 a.m. - Room 272 ...S-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-25-17 S Reported from committee - Do pass S-Public Health, Welfare and Labor
01-26-17 S Placed on the Senate calendar
01-26-17 S Passed over on calendar
01-26-17 S On floor for consideration
01-26-17 S Passed (Vote: Y: 34/N: 0)
01-26-17 S Emergency clause adopted
01-27-17 G Signed by the Governor (Act: 50)

Other Bills filed:
HB 1048
Meeks, David (R)
Irvin, Missy (R)
Allows certain unlicensed individuals to engage in temporary child placement arrangements with a child's legal guardians by establishing a written agreement; defines such activity as 'voluntary respite care.'

HB 1222  
Dotson, Jim (R)
Johnson, Blake (R)
Creates an income tax credit for donations to nonprofits that distribute education savings accounts to parents for use against the cost of tuition, tutoring, services and related costs of attending nonpublic schools, and higher education institutions.

HB 1300   
Miller, Josh (R)
King, Bryan (R)

Requires the Department of Human Services and Medicaid to prioritize funding for the Developmental Disabilities Waiver Program, and to fully fund home and community-based services for individuals on the waiting list within three years.

Note: This bill had positive support but was defeated in the House Public Health Committee because of projected Medicaid and budget shortfalls. Our parent advocates and self-advocates did an excellent job testifying to educate the lawmakers.     

HB 1308
Cozart, Bruce (R)
Irvin, Missy (R)
Repeals and replaces the Building Better Futures High School Program, a career placement program for students with intellectual disabilities. Creates a separate Building Better Futures Program alongside the High School Program.

HB 1461  
Wing, Carlton (R)
Hester, Bart (R)
Expands the criteria that allows a private school to participate in the Succeed Scholarship program to include private schools accredited as providing services to severely disabled individuals

SB 206  
Irvin, Missy (R)
Suspends certification of sites intended for rehabilitative services for persons with mental illness unless the site was certified or had a pending certification as of October 31, 2008, or is a replacement site to provide continuity of services.

To review these bills and others go to:

UPDATE: Monday, January 30, 2017

House Bill 1030, Act 50 of the 91st General Assembly of Arkansas was signed into law by Governor Hutchinson on January 27, 2017.  This Act directs that certain funds from the Tobacco Settlement be used to reduce the number of Arkansans with developmental disabilities on the waiting list for services.  The estimate is that at least 500 will be taken off the list.  House Bill 1300 proposes a way to completely eliminate the waiting list within 3 years.


UPDATE: Thursday, January 19, 2017

House Bill 1033 (using Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act funds to help reduce the DD Waiver Waiting list). This Bill Amends the Tobacco Settlement Proceed Act to extend medical assistance and community-based services to adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

House Sponsor: Rep. Andy Mayberry
Senate Sponsor: Sen. Jim Hendren

On 01/17/2017, Amended HB1033 was returned by the House committee as “do pass” (it was approved).

On 01/19/17, Passed the House 93-0. Bill sent to Senate.

Tomorrow 01/25/17, the Bill will be heard in the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee at 10:00 AM in Room 272 of State Capitol Building.

Please feel free to contact Council staff with concerns, questions and/or suggestions.

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

UPDATE: Thursday, January 19, 2017

Greetings Council Members:

We are staying involved daily with the legislative activities going on at the State Capitol. On 01/13/17, you were sent a memo regarding the first DD related bill that he is following, House Bill 1033 (using Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act funds to help reduce the DD Waiver Waiting list). On 01/17/2017, Amended HB1033 was returned by the House committee as “do pass” (it was approved). We will continue to follow this bill as it progresses through the General Assembly and will send periodic updates on it and other DD related legislation.

You should receive another update by the end of the month. As always, please feel free to contact the staff with concerns, questions and/or suggestions.

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

UPDATE: Friday, January 13, 2017


To:  Council Members
From:  Eric Munson, Executive Director
Re:  Arkansas 91st General Assembly - House Bill 1033

House Bill 1033 (see attachment) will be introduced, by Representative Andy Mayberry, in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday, January 17th at 10:00 am. The committee meets in Room 130 of the State Capitol Building. House Bill 1033 amends the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act to use the settlement money to help reduce the DD Waiting list. We are working with our DD Network partners, legislators, other state agencies, and the Administration on this piece of legislation. I will be attending the House Public Health Committee meeting on Tuesday.

To find information on the committee, including members please visit:

If you have questions, please contact me or Council staff.

Eric P. Munson, Executive Director, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities



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