Public policy and advocacy is an integral part of our work at Paraquad. Our staff actively advocates for independent living opportunities.

Even though laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have been in effect for years, barriers still exist in many areas, including education, housing, transportation, employment and health care for people with disabilities.

Our goal is to free our communities of architectural, communication, systemic and attitudinal barriers. When that is achieved, people with disabilities will be fully included in all aspects of community life.

Paraquad’s Public Policy and Advocacy Department works to develop and implement policies that promote independent living and to eliminate or amend policies that create barriers for people with disabilities.

Our legislative priorities for 2015

People with disabilities should have access to affordable healthcare that meets their needs.

  • Adult dental services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and necessary durable medical equipment for individuals with disabilities accessing MO HealthNet (Medicaid), should be funded by the general assembly.
  • We support expansion of MO HealthNet to 133% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
  • We support increasing the eligibility for the “Aged, Blind and Disabled” category of MO HealthNet to 133% FPL to mirror the expansion category.
  • We oppose efforts to include people with disabilities in managed care delivery systems.

People with disabilities should have opportunities to achieve economic self-sufficiency and access the supports they need to be independent in their homes and communities.

  • We support raising the asset limit for MO HealthNet eligibility to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple.
  • Medical savings accounts and independent living accounts, up to $5,000 a year, should be exempt resources when determining eligibility for MO HealthNet for the Aged, Blind and Disabled.
  • Implement a standard income disregard for disability-related independent living expenses that will allow participants to keep $200 per month to help stay in their own homes.
  • We support changes to the Missouri’s MO HealthNet Buy-in (MBI) Program — the Ticket to Work Health Assurance Program — that increase the likelihood that people with disabilities who need to access MO HealthNet can do so and be employed to their greatest capacity.
    • Missouri should structure its high allowable minimum and maximum earned income levels to achieve continuous enrollment in the program with higher employment and earnings averages.
    • Over 20 states count only the individual’s income in determining eligibility; Missouri should not count a spouse’s income when determining an individual’s eligibility for the MBI program.
    • Missouri’s MBI program has the most restrictive resource limit. Approximately 24 states have a resource limit of at least $10,000; Missouri should increase its resource limit to a minimum of $10,000 or eliminate it completely.

People with disabilities should have access to home and community based services that allow them to live independent lives in their homes and communities.

  • We support a rate increase for the Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program which allows individuals who meet a nursing home level of care to choose in-home support to remain independent.
  • We support an increase in the state’s grant for Independent Living Centers in Missouri.
  • We support lifting the mandate to use telephony (a phone based time and attendance tracking system) for the CDS program. The expensive, burdensome requirement has not proven to reduce error or increase fraud detection and should remain optional for providers and participants in CDS programs.
  • We support efforts to ensure that the Money Follows the Person demonstration project continues in Missouri so that individuals living in nursing homes and institutions have opportunities to transition to homes in the community with the support they need.

People with disabilities should have access to transportation options that meet their needs.

  • We support funding streams that maintain and increase transportation options for people with disabilities, including funding for Metro.
  • People with disabilities should have access to safe, affordable and accessible housing options in the community.
  • We support the adoption of universal design requirements for publicly funded housing projects.