Marka Danielle Rodgers, alongside Shannon Minnick to her left and fellow South Carolinian, Brian Denny, to her right with Sen. Tim Scott's staff on Capitol Hill.

Marka Danielle Rodgers, alongside Shannon Minnick to her left and fellow South Carolinian, Brian Denny, to her right with Sen. Tim Scott’s staff on Capitol Hill.

Last month, all of the United Spinal Chapter Advocacy Representatives were invited to sign on to our letter urging for the passage of a long-term extension of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, an issue we advocated for at Roll on Capitol Hill 2019.

The MFP program is of vital importance to our members, and we need this program to receive stable, long-term funding. Specifically, a five-year extension, through fiscal year 2024, is essential to this program’s continued success. Since the MFP program initiation in 2005, it has helped more than 91,000 people with disabilities transition out of institutional care and return to living in the community. In so doing, it has helped to incentivize states to cover home and community-based services (HCBS) through their Medicaid programs. 43 states and the District of Columbia have participated in the MFP program, which has shown both improvements in the quality of living and substantial cost savings.

After receiving our letter, Sen. Scott of South Carolina’s office reached out to Marka Danielle Rodgers, who had met with office staffers this summer during our Roll on Capitol Hill 2019. Scott’s office wanted to hear her take on why the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association Chapter supports the bill and why Marka personally supports the bill as a constituent with a spinal cord injury. Sen. Scott’s office expressed that their office was, “Taking a look at the issue and wanted to learn more from a community of constituents affected by this legislation.” Marka shares, “I went through all of the aspects piece by piece and gave them an honest look into the big picture and the day-to-day issues related to the importance of home-based care.”

For Marka, it was a satisfying experience to speak directly to a legislator who is often on the opposite side of her political leanings, yet who was taking the time to hear her perspective. “The reason I became an advocate ….. is because I realized that I was having to fight hard as a relatively privileged white woman and couldn’t imagine how much harder that could be for someone with less opportunity,” shares Rodgers. She adds, “The best way to be a prepared advocate is to get educated and speak up! I’ve always been a teacher, and it’s a role that I find very rewarding. Advocacy allows me to teach while sharing my story.”

Eleven chapters responded and signed on to our letter to Congress representing 19 states with 38 senators and 162 representatives that we were able to share our letter of support and sign-on request. Sign on support was an excellent opportunity for chapters to get involved and advocate for an essential quality of life supporting bill at a critical moment. THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORTS! STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES! The chapters who participated were:

  • Greater Kansas City Spinal Cord Injury Association
  • New York City Spinal – A United Spinal Chapter
  • Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection
  • South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association
  • United Spinal of Greater Boston Chapter
  • United Spinal of Greater Philadelphia Chapter
  • United Spinal of Houston Chapter
  • United Spinal of Iowa Chapter
  • United Spinal of Louisiana Chapter
  • United Spinal of New Mexico Chapter
  • United Spinal of North Texas Chapter

Providing long term care in the home costs less than institutional care. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has found that average monthly costs for MFP participants with physical disabilities declined by $1,783 (23 percent) in the first year after transitioning from a nursing home to HCBS. MFP participants are less likely to be readmitted to institutional care than other beneficiaries who transition but do not participate in the program. We are also advocating for the disregard of spousal income/resources to assign Medicaid HCBS eligibility.

Want to get involved in this critical push to support the Money Follows the Person legislation? TAKE ACTION NOW! For more information, click here.