Even though we are in a pandemic, we continue to stand up and fight for you and all people with disabilities. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, some of us from the SKIL family, including myself, other staff, board members and customers, went to the Capitol Statehouse in Topeka to fight for Medicaid expansion. This vital issue has not yet been resolved, so we will continue to advocate for its passage.
Regarding COVID-19, we have been involved in a number of efforts, including:
- Partnering with other organizations in Kansas on systems advocacy efforts at the State level, to get the State of Kansas to adjust programs and services to meet the needs of people with disabilities, such as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), food assistance, cleaning and hygiene supplies, shelter, etc.
- Fighting for systems change and funding at the federal level, to help people with disabilities during this crisis;
- Writing Kansas Governor Laura Kelly a list of concerns that would impact Kansans with disabilities through the crisis that was just beginning to affect our state at the time, recommending many changes including regarding HCBS, healthcare, education, Community First, housing, public accommodations, and involving people with disabilities in all levels of planning;
- Advocating for changes in the Waivers submitted by the State of Kansas that are not focused enough on the people receiving services rather than the providers;
- Continuing to advocate for individuals who remain on waiting lists for HCBS, and who are receiving no services in the meantime;
- Advocating against the State of Kansas’ alleged horrifying policy to medical providers regarding medical rationing, and obtaining attention and media coverage about this issue;
- Utilizing our website and social media to educate about the needs and discrimination of people with disabilities during the pandemic;
- SKIL has begun assisting individuals in exercising their right to file an Olmstead complaint with the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR); their freedom of continuing to live in the community is being allegedly threatened with institutionalization as a result of needs not being met due to COVID-19. Staff will assist individuals in completing a complaint form which SKIL will submit to OCR, and continue in close contact with these individuals to assure that we do not lose contact with them and that their rights are not violated.
- We have been working on getting funding sources to provide food, paper goods, hygiene products and cleaning supplies to our customers.
These and other efforts for you continue to prove that love is not only a word. It is not only a feeling. It is, at its core, an action. We will keep on working for you!