Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts
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AFAM offers testimony on proposed DDS regulations affecting people with ASD

In early August, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) received public comments regarding the revised Statewide HCBS Transition Plan for compliance with the 2014 federal rule for Medicaid-funded residential and non-residential home- and community-based waiver services (also known as the "Community Rule" or the "HCBS Rule"). The Community Rule took effect March 17, 2014 and states were required to submit transition plans to CMS within one year of the effective date indicating how they would comply with the new requirements ensuring participants have access to and are integrated into the broader community. Massachusetts first submitted its Statewide Transition Plan (STP) regarding residential HCBS services to CMS in a letter dated March 2, 2015, followed by an addendum that addressed non-residential services in a letter dated September 3, 2015. The current version of the STP reflects updates responsive to all feedback and guidance received from CMS in 2015 and 2016. A copy of the STP is posted on the EOHHS webpage on the website.

Updates since the original 2015 submissions to CMS include several technical, structural, and formatting changes; however, the state’s overall approach to transitioning all HCBS settings to full compliance with the Community Rule has not changed since the initial STP submissions to CMS in 2015. Substantive changes in the current version of the STP did include the addition of detail and updated information, including additional details regarding the “heightened scrutiny” and “participant relocation” processes, as well as the state’s plan for continued monitoring of all HCBS settings for ongoing compliance with the Community Rule.

Click here to read the testimony submitted to EOHHS by AFAM with respect to the current State Transition Plan.

At the end of August, the Department of Developmental Services held hearings on proposed changes to 115 CMR 2.00 and 115 CMR 5.00, promoting the safety, well-being, and dignity of individuals with developmental disabilities. The regulations are intended to promote the independence, inclusion, and dignity of individuals with autism through rules and policies that incorporate Positive Behavioral Supports. AFAM expressed concerns, however, with specific elements of the rules the Department, including the “one size fits all” approach of the proposed regulations, given the wide-ranging needs of the affected population, and instances where the proposed regulations fail to cross-reference the existing regulations with scientifically validated best practices and in so doing may not fully reflect the complexity of provider’s legal requirements. In addition, AFAM is concerned that while DDS is including more requirements for providers, the proposed regulations fall short with respect to ensuring provider accountability to affected individuals and their guardians. You can see AFAM’s testimony here.

AFAM Housing Policy

Massachusetts is currently faced with a dramatic increase in the number of people with autism who are aging into adulthood. These adults are in urgent need of affordable housing options – a priority identified by the March 2013 Report of the Massachusetts Autism Commission.

AFAM’s member organizations have engaged in intense discussions over the past several months concerning the current lack of adequate housing for adults with autism. Debate has taken place regarding the housing settings and models most appropriate to respond to these urgent needs. These discussions have been energized by recently-adopted policies and regulations developed by governmental agencies, affecting various State and Federal funding streams earmarked for housing.

AFAM’s member organizations are in agreement that people with autism should have access to a variety of housing options, and be able to choose those that meet their personal need and preferences. These options (and necessary, associated supports) should be designed to foster health, happiness, safety and growth in the least restrictive environment possible to ensure the best possible person-centered outcomes for each individual. Recognizing that autism affects each individual in unique ways, it is AFAM’s position that an individualized approach to housing is appropriate.

AFAM’s advocacy will focus on ways to increase and improve the overall amount and variety of affordable housing options for adults with autism. Potential housing options may include those that are financed publicly, privately, or through ‘blended’ funding approaches, in order to maximize choices and provide for a spectrum of needs across the lifespan.

-----Adopted August 25, 2015

About Advocates for Autism for Massachusetts (AFAM)

Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts was formed in 2004 to address the need for public advocacy on behalf of individuals, families and professionals who have or deal with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which also encompasses Asperger's Syndrome and high-functioning Autism. The organization provides an important arena for mobilizing those of us who deal with ASD in our day-to-day lives as the most eloquent and persuasive spokespeople for our concerns. Our efforts focus not only on the State House but also on towns and city halls that also have responsibility for service delivery and funding.


Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts will strive to assure the human and civil rights of individuals of all ages across the entire Autism Spectrum and promote the availability of essential supports so that they may live fully and enjoy the same opportunities as other citizens of the Commonwealth.  We will educate individuals with ASD, their families and other AFAM members/supporters to be effective, vigorous agents of change. Read more.

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This web site was last updated 2 February 2017

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