Legislative Advocacy in Action

DSAMT advocates at the local, state and national levels on issues that impact individuals with Down syndrome and their families.  This includes educating DSAMT members about important legislative issues; regularly communicating with our legislators; helping our families share their stories with lawmakers to help affect change; participating in TN’s Disability Day on the Hill; and educating our self-advocates in the legislative advocacy process.  

Each year, we take our Self-Advocate of the Year to the NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington, at which they meet with numerous lawmakers, share their personal story and advocate for specific pieces of legislation.

We encourage you to communicate with your legislators on issues that affect our community and your family, and we strive to help make it easy for you. 

DSAMT's Current State Advocacy Efforts

DSAMT's Current Federal Advocacy Efforts

  • Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017 - We have been closely following the proposed changes in the recent healthcare legislation, with guidance from multiple national and local Down syndrome and disAbility organizations, including the National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society, The Arc US and The Arc Tennessee and the Tennesse Council on Developmental Disabilities, to name a few. 

The Senate “Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017” bill outlines a new Medicaid financing mechanism – per capita spending caps and block grants, which would be detrimental to individuals with Down syndrome and their families across the country. 

The Act proposes to limit the federal funding to states by changing Medicaid into “per capita caps,” leaving states either to pay for the remaining cost of these supports or not provide them. Right now, the federal government covers 65% of Medicaid costs for Tennessee.  For our loved ones with Down syndrome, these Medicaid funds provide long-term services and supports programs like Employment and Community First CHOICES and the DIDD waiver programs.  These programs provide transportation, personal assistance, family supports and employment supports.  

If the cuts to Medicaid are passed, Tennessee will have even less to help fund these optional programs, which help to provide meaningful inclusion and independent living for individuals with Down syndrome in our communities.

DSAMT has been advocating on your behalf and has sent these letters to Senators Alexander and Corker.  We encourage you to send your own, personalized communication with a photo to both of them, too.  Just tell your story in your own words - how these cuts will affect your loved one(s) and your family.  Tell them you are asking them to oppose this bill and asking them for no cuts or caps to Medicaid. Thank you for your advocacy.


Supporting Tennessee Advocacy Efforts

To support these efforts, DSAMT and other TN DSAs are asking you to pre-purchase a Down syndrome awareness license plate.  One-half of the fee ($35) will come to DSAMT to be spent on state-wide advocacy efforts.  The plates are expected to go into production in 2018, once 1,000 plates are pre-sold.  Once available, purchasers will be notified to pick up their specialty plates (the DMV will pro-rate your fees, so that you aren't double charged).  Pre-purchase a plate today!

Stay Informed and Act

Staying knowledgeable is easy, and we want to make sure that getting your message out to our legislators is easy, too.