Delaware House Bill 104 Renamed to Honor the Late Michael McNesby

Dover, Del., May 2, 2018 – As momentum grows for the state of Delaware to fully fund programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Representative Melanie George Smith announced that the bill written to mandate this funding will be renamed in honor of Michael McNesby. What has been known as House Bill 104 will now be called the Michael McNesby Full Funding for Adults with I/DD Act.

Mr. McNesby passed away in late March. He was born with Down syndrome in 1960, a time when society was unsure what to do with individuals with intellectual disabilities. However, his large family embraced Michael, and he lived a rewarding life and contributed to society, most notably working at Elwyn for 28 years.

“Our parents chose inclusion for Michael and he thrived, as all individuals with intellectual disabilities can if given the right support,” said Jerry McNesby, Michael’s brother. “Because we were a large family, we were able to provide that support; other families are not so lucky, and need help.”

The Michael McNesby Full Funding for Adults with I/DD Act was introduced last year, sponsored by Representative Melanie George Smith (D) and Senator Bryan Townsend (D). The bill is bipartisan and supported by both House and Senate members from both sides of the aisle.

“Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can contribute to our communities—they just need to be given a chance,” said Rep. George Smith. “I’m proud to be able to champion this bill—it’s important for all Delawareans.”

The McNesby Act would mandate an increase in the rates paid to providers according to the recommendations of a market study conducted by the Department of Health and Social Services, so that by fiscal year 2021 the state would fund providers at 100 percent of the benchmarked rate. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the bill calls for a $9 million funding infusion for programs for adults with I/DD.

“We can’t begin to count the number of people whose lives Michael touched over the years,” said Sen. Townsend, D-Newark. “This is a well-deserved tribute to his legacy and the mark he left on so many people. Stories like Michael’s underscore the positive contributions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Among the many ways we will honor his memory is by naming this incredibly important legislation after him.”

The state is currently funding providers at 75 percent of the market rate established in a 2014 study that was done by DHSS. These rate increases are necessary to increase the hourly wages of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), which along with the corresponding costs of program oversight, direct supervision of DSPs, and training, are essential to keep people with I/DD safe and integrated to the maximum extent possible in their local communities.

“We’re asking Governor Carney and the legislature to step up and do what’s right,” said C. Thomas Cook, Executive Director of the Ability Network of Delaware. “Government’s job is to support and protect citizens who need a hand, and how they proceed with the McNesby Act will be a clear indication of their priorities and whether they value these citizens.”

A rally supporting the McNesby Act will be held outside Legislative Hall in Dover on Thursday, May 10, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. Called “The Whole 9 Rally,” it is a chance for citizens to make the case for the $9 million funding infusion for programs for adults with I/DD.

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About the Ability Network of Delaware

By uniting and focusing on what we can achieve together, the Ability Network of Delaware (formerly DelARF) builds strength across Delaware’s disability community. We are a connecting force that functions as a statewide membership association of agencies, all working to support people with disabilities. Membership is open to organizations that provide direct services, advocacy and/or educational services to Delawareans with disabilities, their families and advocates.

Press Contacts:

For the Ability Network of Delaware:
John Miller