In April, Together for Choice presented at the Marbridge Foundation’s 7th Annual CoAct Leadership Symposium in Austin, TX. Board members Ashley Kim and Geana Connelly gave a brief history of TFC’s work since 2017, including their efforts leading up to the latest CMS guidance on the Settings Rule. Kim and Connelly expressed that thanks in large part to grassroots advocacy by hundreds of TFC members, CMS responded with guidance that we hope will protect and expand choices for people with I/DD while empowering CMS to continue to fight abuse and neglect.
CMS’s Senior Policy Advisor Melissa Harris also presented at the Symposium, hosting a webinar to provide further clarification on the new guidance. After a brief presentation, she spent a significant amount of time fielding questions still lingering in the audience. Those in attendance were grateful for the guidance’s substance, but they still were concerned that states may still misinterpret the intention of the Settings Rule and continue to enforce it unjustly. Harris assured the audience that the guidance was written to change the heightened scrutiny process nationwide by offering quality settings protection from being erroneously placed on the list and offering reasonable solutions for settings that are currently on the list.
The Symposium spanned three days and offered opportunities to share best practices, discuss creative solutions to industry challenges, and network with other professionals in the I/DD field representing over 50 organizations and 20 states. Other presenters included Roger Crawford, inspirational speaker and accomplished athlete, and Elaine Hall, founder the Miracle Project, an inclusive theater and film social skills program for kids with and without I/DD. The Marbridge Foundation hosts the CoAct Symposium every other April. TFC’s next conference will be in October 2020 at Opportunity Village in Las Vegas.
Scott McAvoy, Executive Vice President of the Marbridge Foundation and TFC Board Member