Monday, April 27, 2015

Roseanne Barr sharing her personnel her struggle with macular degeneration and glaucoma, & preventative tips

wonderful article on macular degeneration and glaucoma, and Roseanne Barr sharing her personnel story.

By Catherine DiBenedetto, CNN Health.com
(CNN) Roseanne Barr revealed earlier this week that she is going blind. In an interview with The Daily Beast, the 62-year-old comic talked about her struggle with macular degeneration and glaucoma — two eye diseases that get progressively worse over time and can steal vision.
Barr's doctors haven't provided a timeline, but her symptoms are worsening: "My vision is closing in now," she said. "I just try and enjoy vision as much as possible. Y'know, living it up."
Macular degeneration is a breakdown of the part of the retina that allows us to see fine details in the center of vision; while glaucoma damages the nerve that connects the retina to the brain, and is often caused by fluid build-up and pressure in the eyes. (Barr said in the interview that she helps relieve the pressure by using marijuana, which is known to temporarily lower pressure inside the eye.)
"It's somewhat unusual that Roseanne Bar has both, but not unheard of," explains ophthalmologist Steven A. Shanbom, MD, of Shanbom Eye Specialists in Berkley, Mich. Though there are some controllable risk factors, certain people are genetically predisposed to these diseases, so Barr may simply be prone to both. "Certainly it's sad. The combination of the two is terrible. Macular degeneration takes away her central vision, and glaucoma is taking away her peripheral vision," Dr. Shanbom adds. (He is not treating Roseanne Barr, and does not know the specifics of her case.)
The risk for both diseases goes up for everyone after age 60, with some people, especially African Americans, at higher risk in their 40s. That's why the American Academy of Opthalmology recommends getting a baseline eye exam when you turn the big 4-0, even if you have perfect vision. In the early stages, you can have either condition, but have no symptoms at all. Things like a family history or high blood pressure, or issues within the eye (like having a thinner cornea, for example) might lead your MD to prescribe drops that can reduce your chances of developing glaucoma by about half.
There is no cure for either disease. But like those eyedrops, there are treatments that may delay the progression of early-stage glaucoma (from other drugs to surgery), and therapies that might halt further vision loss in advanced cases of macular degeneration (including an implantable telescope). The future looks brighter however: An animal study published this month suggests that an injection of stem cells into the eye might slow or even reverse the effects of early-stage macular degeneration.
There are also simple things you can start doing right now to ward off these diseases. Here, five ways to protect your peepers.
Slip on your shades—even when it's cloudy
Sun exposure can up the risk for glaucoma and macular degeneration, as well as cataracts (clouding of the lenses). Make sure your sunglasses offer 99% to 100% UV protection. Sporting a pair that doesn't filter UV light is more dangerous than wearing no shades at all, because the dark lenses cause your pupils to dilate and allow in more harmful rays.
Schedule in a regular walk
Studies indicate that aerobic exercise can reduce the eye pressure that leads to glaucoma, and may improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, all you need to do is raise your pulse 20% to 25% (which could mean a brisk walk) for 20 minutes, a minimum of four times a week
Eat your greens
Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are packed with lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that lower your risk of developing macular degeneration (and cataracts too), research shows. Another good source: egg yolks.
Snack on almonds, citrus, and berries
Almonds are loaded with vitamin E (a handful provides about half your daily dose), which slows macular degeneration; while citrus fruit and berries are filled with vitamin C, which cuts your odds of developing the disease.
Avoid cigarette smoke
While smoking is bad news for many parts of your body, you may not have considered eyes to be one of them. However, smoking doubles your risk of macular degeneration. Avoiding cigs can not only protect your lungs and heart, it can protect your peepers too.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/27/health/roseanne-barr-blindness/

Louisiana Dr Winston Murray, Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud Charges in $56 Million Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Louisiana Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud Charges for Writing False Home Health Certifications in $56 Million Fraud Scheme
A Louisiana doctor pleaded guilty to federal health care fraud charges today, admitting that he wrote false home health care certifications that were used in a multi-million dollar Medicare fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge Michael Anderson of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Mike Fields of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Regional Office and Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell made the announcement.
Winston Murray, M.D., 62, of Hammond, Louisiana, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana to all three charges against him, including one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and two counts of health care fraud.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12, 2015.  Murray is the ninth defendant to plead guilty in this case.  The trial for the remaining four defendants is scheduled to begin on May 6, 2015.
At his plea hearing, Murray admitted that he operated a clinic in Hammond, Louisiana, from which he wrote home health care referrals for Medicare beneficiaries he knew were not confined to their homes.  Murray further admitted that his referrals were used by home health companies Interlink Health Care Services Inc. (Interlink) and Lakeland Health Care Services Inc. (Lakeland), among others, to fraudulently bill Medicare for home health services supposedly rendered to hundreds of Medicare beneficiaries living in and around Hammond and New Orleans.
Medicare records reveal that Murray’s certifications were used by Interlink and Lakeland to bill Medicare for more than $2.2 million in home health services that were not medically needed or were not provided.  From 2007 through 2014, these companies and other companies involved in this scheme submitted more than $56 million in claims to Medicare, a vast majority of which were fraudulent.  Medicare paid approximately $50.7 million on these claims.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys William Kanellis and Antonio Pozos and Assistant Chief Ben Curtis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,100 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6.5 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/louisiana-doctor-pleads-guilty-health-care-fraud-charges-writing-false-home-health

Disability Community Closing Gaps in Local Emergency Plans and Grassroots Emergency FEMA Planning: Webinar May 14th

The following is provided by the Pacific ADA Center

May 14, 2015
Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/8.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php
This presentation will share two practices that brought people together to bring about increased knowledge and action on emergency preparedness. First, we will hear about the lessons learned from the Massachusetts Active Planning project, which brought together local disability community members with their localities, to work collaboratively, share resources and expertise about emergency preparedness and response for and with people with disabilities, ultimately enhancing resilience for the whole community. Our speakers will focus on a replicable collaborative, inclusive Community Stakeholder Meeting (CSM) gap analysis process to address issues of community-wide concern, such as needs assessment, resident participation in local emergency planning, risk communication, public preparedness education and creative use of community resources to address emergency needs, for example in emergency shelters. Our second set of speakers will describe an effort to get people with disabilities and other access and functional needs to prepare for emergencies, for that group to communicate needs to emergency responders, and to encourage businesses and local civic leaders to plan cooperatively for needs through periodic community meetings.
Learning Objectives:
  • Understand how to identify key stakeholders in the community and learn strategies for collaboration.
  • Learn how to perform a gap analysis of your local emergency plan using the Active Planning Workbook and identify priorities and strategies for plan improvement.
  • Learn strategies and practical steps for improving the general state of emergency preparedness in a community.
Presenter:
  • Sue Wolf-Fordham and Nancy Shea, Active Planning Project, University of Massachusetts Medical School E.K. Shriver Center Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative.
  • Ted Stamp Southwestern Center for Independent Living and Tammy VanOverbeke, Lyon County Emergency Manager.
To view all of the sessions for the coming year, or to see previous sessions, go to http://www.adapresentations.org/schedule.php
Copyright © 2015 Pacific ADA Center, All rights reserved.



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Illinois Medicaid Massive $106 Million Cut from 2015 State Budget "Deal"



By KERRY LESTER and NICK SWEDBERG | Associated Press | April 24, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois nursing homes are at a loss for how they will deal with a $65 million cut in state Medicaid funding made by Gov. Bruce Rauner's office as part of a budget fix for this fiscal year.
Pat Comstock, executive director of Health Care Council of Illinois, said managers at nursing homes might have to go without paychecks as they scramble to figure out how to cut spending without violating state mandates for staffing and level of care. Her organization represents the more than 730 nursing homes in the state.
"This is so massive and so devastating that it's going to take us a while to figure out how we're going to cope," Comstock said Friday.
Rauner's office said Thursday that it's cutting $106 million from Medicaid, the health care program for low-income and disabled people, as part of a deal with legislators to close a $1.6 billion gap in the fiscal year that ends in June.
The governor's office says providers of certain services shall have their reimbursement rates reduced by 16.75 percent. Services exempt from the rate reductions include hospital and mental health services.
Besides Medicaid, services for young homeless people and victims of domestic violence and rape also will see funding reduced.
The details of how the cuts will affect various agencies came roughly a month after lawmakers approved legislation to close the budget hole. It includes $1.3 billion in transfers from special funds and a 2.25 percent across-the-board cut.
The $35.7 billion budget that the Legislature passed last spring didn't provide enough funds to pay for promised programs and services as lawmakers delayed a vote on whether to extend the state's temporary income tax increase, which expired in January. Lawmakers and Rauner spent the early months of the new year negotiating a solution to plug the hole.
The Department of Human Services will see an overall loss of $1.1 million, according to a document released by Rauner's budget office. Within that, a $419,000 cut is being made to domestic violence shelters and a $103,000 reduction to homeless youth services. A mental health program involving psychotropic drugs will be cut by $42,000. Human Services spokeswoman Veronica Vera said developmental disabilities and mental health are the only two programs that are not affected.
The state's community colleges will see a $6.37 million cut, according to data from the Illinois Community College Board. Matthew Berry, a board spokesman, said the cut will not have an immediate impact on the colleges because it occurred late in the school year, but it could affect services over the summer as schools are forced to dig into reserve funds.
Rauner's budget office also says the Monetary Award Program, which assists students in need of financial help with college, will face a cut. The office did not give a specific dollar amount.
Hospitals in Illinois negotiated with lawmakers and the Rauner administration last month to avoid a cut by accepting an increase in the tax they pay through the hospital assessment program.
Illinois Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun said hospitals will share paying an extra $27 million over the last three months of the fiscal year. He said this will avoid a loss of matching federal money that would have been cut as a result of a Medicaid funding reduction.
Information on the latest round of cuts follows a House panel's examination of the governor's suspension of $26 million in social service and public health grants on Good Friday — a move that surprised some lawmakers who thought they had handled the problem with the legislative fix.
Rauner budget director Tim Nuding told lawmakers early in the week that he will "do a better job communicating" as the governor's office works with the Legislature on a budget for the fiscal year starting next July to fill a much larger $6 billion hole.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski, one of two Senate appropriations chairs, called Thursday's move a "stark contrast to the letters that were sent out on Good Friday without any notice."

Chicago reality, the 'Devastating' Closure of C4's Mental Health Centers to hit 10,000 Patients Immediately

The announced closure of C4 will leave a large hole in mental health care in Chicago, We will update as information becomes available.


Community Counseling Centers of Chicago will shut down May 31. 
Chicago Sun-Times, article by Tina Sfondeles and Diana Novak Jones | April 24, 2015

One of the largest providers of mental health services to poor North Siders is closing — just as the state braces for massive mental health care cuts.
And Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office is warning that means there will soon be more mentally ill people in jail.
Community Counseling Centers of Chicago — which cares for more than 10,000 patients, including children — is closing its doors May 31 in a move mental health care experts say will be devastating for its patients.
The center was founded in 1972 to help people released from psychiatric hospitals into Edgewater and Uptown. Over the years it expanded to five locations, all of which will now close, the organization’s CEO Eileen Durkin confirmed Friday.
C4’s closure comes as lawmakers debate Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposals to slash $82 million from mental health programs.
Durkin acknowledged the cuts would have affected C4. But she blamed a billing issue as the reason for closure. After the center upgraded their medical records system as required by the Affordable Care Act, a glitch in the way the records and billing systems were linked prevented C4 from sending out bills last fall, she said.
“We went for six weeks without being able to get a bill out the door,” Durkin said. That all but cut off C4’s cash flow, she said.
“Like a lot of nonprofits, we don’t have a diversified revenue stream,” she added.
“We pretty much live and die by our billing.”
According to the center’s 2013 annual report and tax records, however, the center received $12.8 million in federal funding, $3.9 million from the state’s Department of Public Aid and $1.06 million in Medicaid and Medicare client fees. It also received $388,000 in contributions and $179,000 in public grants.
Durkin said she is working with the state to place clients with other mental health programs.
Children and adolescents receive half of the center’s services, adults with mental health needs get another third and the remainder are treated for substance-abuse problems, according to the center’s annual report.
Mental health care in Chicago was already limited. The closure in 2012 of six city-run mental health clinics sent many mentally ill patients to the Cook County Jail, critics say.
“People are sad and angry and frustrated,” Durkin said. “It’s horrible.”
Brian Richardson, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Public Health, said on Friday that the department is trying to make sure clients get the help they need.
“The closing of C4 is very concerning as the organization plays a valuable role in Chicago’s mental health system,” Richardson said. 
The transition of C4 patients isn’t going to be easy, according to Amy Watson, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work.
“The other agencies don’t really have the capacity to absorb anymore clients and for some people that means going outside of their community,” said Watson. “It means developing new relationships. It’s not realistic. There are going to be a lot of people that aren’t able to reconnect to a provider, at least not in a smooth transition.”
Watson said C4 served many Hispanic patients, who will have a hard time finding bilingual services elsewhere. She called C4’s closure “devastating.”
“People are going to be stacked up in the emergency rooms. You may have some people that end up in the jail . . . because there’s nowhere else to bring them,” Watson said. “Some people may die. It’s just devastating all around and it’s not really going to save money. It’s probably going to overall cost more money.”
That increased cost would come from emergency room visits, police and jail responses, she said.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has long called the jail the “largest mental health hospital” where patients are “criminalized.”
“This closure will dramatically exacerbate the crisis felt by those suffering from mental illness who cannot access care,” sheriff’s office spokesman Ben Breit said. “We expect to immediately feel the impact of these cuts on our jail population.”
http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/548596/mental-health-services-provider-shutting-may-31

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fair Housing Act Protects People with Disabilities Against Discrimination

GDAS Bryan Greene
as shared from Disability.gov blog
By Guest Blogger Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
I’m Bryan Greene, General Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It’s a pleasure to blog again for Disability.gov in honor of Fair Housing Month. This April marks the 47th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing because of, among other things, a person’s disability.
In this post, I would like to highlight the issue of housing discrimination against deaf individuals, particularly the discriminatory treatment that prospective tenants who are deaf may experience when they contact housing providers. Deaf individuals who rely on assistive services, such as the Internet Protocol (IP) Relay system to conduct telephone calls, may experience less favorable treatment than non-deaf individuals. Some housing providers may refuse to discuss available units with deaf individuals, or may quote them higher prices or other inferior terms. If proven, such treatment of deaf individuals may violate the Fair Housing Act.
Recently, some of HUD’s fair housing partners have pursued cases involving allegations of discrimination against deaf prospective tenants. These groups alleged that testing they conducted revealed discrimination.
Testing is a way to compare the treatment of similar individuals who only differ on one characteristic, such as disability. It is one of the techniques used to investigate housing discrimination. Often, testing uses individuals posing as prospective tenants to find out if a housing provider will treat them differently. For example, two testers – one with and one without a disability – might contact the housing provider about the same unit in a similar time period. The testers would present themselves as being equally qualified to rent the unit. If, for instance, the housing provider tells the tester with a disability that the unit is not available, while offering to show the unit to the tester without a disability five minutes later, this could be evidence of discrimination. While an individual might suspect differential treatment, it can be difficult to prove. Thus, testing is an important investigative tool.
Last month, Access Living, a disability rights organization, sued several housing providers in Chicago, alleging that they discriminated against deaf individuals seeking apartments. Access Living conducted tests that allegedly showed housing providers “abruptly hanging up on the [deaf] tester, refusing to provide information, not returning phone calls, and/or providing different pricing information than was provided to the non-deaf tester.” In one lawsuit, Access Living alleged that a housing provider responded to a deaf tester by stating that none of the apartments were “handicapped safe.” Access Living, which receives a HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program grant, conducted these tests with HUD funding.
Similar allegations have been made in other cases. Over the past year, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) reached nine settlements resolving allegations that housing providers in multiple states treated deaf testers using IP Relay less favorably than non-deaf testers when they inquired about renting an apartment. NFHA and NAD obtained $277,000 in the nine settlements. These complaints were filed with HUD, and while they were settled prior to investigation, HUD staff assisted with obtaining a resolution.
Finding the right place to live can be a challenge when one has a disability. HUD and our fair housing partners are committed to ensuring that individuals with disabilities do not face unlawful barriers.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 FREE (voice) or (800) 927-9275 FREE (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

About the Guest Blogger

Mr. Bryan Greene has devoted his professional career to fighting housing discrimination. From his start as a fair housing investigator in the Boston Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to his current position as the General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Mr. Greene has always worked to promote diverse, inclusive communities. Mr. Greene oversees the policy direction and operational management of HUD’s 580-person Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Under his leadership, HUD has pursued large-scale high-profile cases that address systemic discrimination and provide widespread relief. Mr. Greene was the 2007 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the highest federal honor bestowed upon federal senior executives for outstanding service. Mr. Greene earned his degree in Government from Harvard University.
https://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2015/04/24/the-fair-housing-act-protects-people-with-disabilities-against-discrimination/

Reinstate Respite Care program funding for Developmentally Disabled in Illinois - ONLINE PETITION

Recieved this Change.org petition. Another avenue to support, as are so many efforts in Illinois and the drastic budget cuts the disability community in Illinois are facing.

Through this program agencies provide cost-effective, short-term, intermittent care for persons with a diagnosis of Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy or Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities. This program provides the primary caregivers the opportunity to handle the daily struggles in their lives with the comforting knowledge that their children are being well cared for in their absence. One of the primary benefits of the Respite Care program is to defer or deter costly residential placement of individuals who have a developmental disability, which is roughly$60,000.00 a year in a CILA setting or $240,000.00 in a state-operated facility.  
Respite Care is essential to maintaining family’s lives! Please do not allow so many children and families to go without service as the few dollars saved will certainly be realized in the quality of lives for far too many!

To Sign this Change.org Petition, go to:





To Sign the Petition at Change.org, visit:

Illinois Senate votes to restore human service cuts; bill moves to House for consideration - Disability Service cuts by Gov Rauner

hopefully some good news, will update as this proceeds through Illinois Legislator

Illinois News Network, article by MARK FITTON | April 23, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — By a vote of 57-1, the Illinois Senate on Wednesday authorized additional fund transfers to restore $26 million in cuts made to human service programs on Good Friday.
The bill now moves to the House, where it’s fate Wednesday appeared less certain.
Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, sponsored the measure, which he said would authorize transfers from funds that still have surpluses for fiscal year 2015, including a supplemental energy assistance fund that has an available balance of $75 million.
The proposal, Senate Bill 274, does not include transfers from road fund, the state construction fund or the motor fuel tax funds, the senator said.
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Kotowski said the emergency funding measure was drafted with the cooperation of the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the Senate and with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office.
Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, thanked Kotowski for his tenacity in attacking the problem, but the deputy Republican leader added all legislators must be mindful of tough decisions ahead, as the 2016 budget remains to be negotiated.
While senators could take momentary satisfaction in being able to help, legislators must realize Illinois has been “been spending more than we can afford and difficult decisions are coming down the pike,” Murphy said. “We need to brace ourselves.”
Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, also thanked the negotiators and his colleagues.
“We do have to organize and come up with a better way to spend the limited dollars we have, but we should not lose focus,” Trotter said.
“Some of these program that we call social services are actually life-giving services to the people who receive them,” he said.  “This is not just math; this is about people.”
Sen. Mike Noland, D-Elgin, cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he opposes the practice of last-minute fund transfers.
The April 3 spending cuts by the Rauner administration caused some friction between the Republican governor’s office and leading Democrats.
The General Assembly in late March approved a bill authorizing $1.36 billion in fund transfers and imposing a nearly across-the-board 2.25 percent budget cut to get the state through fiscal year 2015, which ends June 30. The goal was to close a $1.6 billion gap.
For a short while after the votes, work on the bills was hailed as outstanding bipartisan governance.
But Democrats said they were stunned when the Rauner administration then cut $26 million to programs including help for the autistic, burials for the poor and addiction prevention and treatment programs, among others.
Those legislators said they thought the programs — especially those having to do with mental and developmental health —had been funded and were safe for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, who sponsored the March compromise bills in the Senate, said, “I felt like I had a kick in the stomach on April 3rd, ” when phone calls about the cuts began coming in.
Late Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Kotowski’s bill was under review.
But Steve Brown of the speaker’s staff added House Democratic leadership felt the March bills gave the Rauner administration adequate funding and authority to complete the fiscal year without the cuts, especially those to mental health programs.
The bills did not decrease funding for those programs while it cut other state programs, he noted.
The compromise package was sponsored in the House by Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, and supported by Madigan, both of whom spoke on the floor and told members that services for the mentally ill, people with developmental disabilities and autistic children would be spared from further cuts.
http://ilnews.org/4562/senate-votes-to-restore-human-service-cuts-bill-moves-to-house-for-consideration/

related post: Illinois Governor Rauner ordered the suspension of $26 million worth of state grants through June 30, 2015, effective immediately

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Application of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards (May 7)

laptop with Access Board sealThe next webinar in the U.S. Access Board's free monthly series will take place May 7 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will cover application of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards in new construction, alterations, and additions. The session will address the scope of the standards, which encompass a wide range of facilities in the public and private sectors, and review scoping provisions for spaces and elements, general exceptions, and other provisions relevant to application. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session (total limited to 25) or can be posed during the webinar.

For more information, including registration instructions, visit www.accessibilityonline.org.

*as shared by the U.S Access Board



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

National ADAPT in Washington, DC, in 2015 Advocating for Disability Home and Community Services at the Federal Level

as posted at National ADAPT on April 22

ADAPT strikes at Four Spots in Washington DC

ADAPT Activists at the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services, the Republican National Headquarters and the Democratic Party.

By Mike Ervin,
Photos by Kevin McBride and Dave Fulton
ADAPT Activists at the Department of Justice. Photo by Dave Fulton
It sure was ironic. The headquarters of the U.S Department of Justice was surrounded by barricades, those metal riot fences that hook together. DoJ apparently knew ADAPT was in town and they must’ve had a guilty conscious.
Sure enough, the ADAPT march line approached and instead of storming the fortress we swirled around and took over street. D.C police blocked traffic. We faced the cement block with windows that is DoJ and unfurled our orange banner.
ADAPT was fed up with DoJ’s inertia when it comes to enforcing the community integration mandate of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the subsequent Supreme Court Olmstead decision and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
ADAPT demanded that the DOJ:
1) Pursue high-profile Olmstead/ADA or CRIPA enforcement actions in every state to address the institutionalization of thousands of people with disabilities of all ages.
2) Address the decades-long waiting lists that should be moving at a reasonable pace.
3) Accept and take immediate action on the ADAPT of Texas ADA complaint that Texas’ failure to establish adequate rates for home and community based services has significantly restricted the opportunity of people with disabilities to live safely in their own homes and community.
4) Initiate action in at least other four other states to address inadequate Medicaid rates which impact attendant wages, the attendant workforce and the opportunity for community living; and
5) Meet with ADAPT and other disability rights advocates in every state to develop a list of violations that exist in public nursing facilities and other institutions covered under CRIPA that need to be addressed.
So for about 30 minutes ADAPTers testified in the streets. We heard how attendants in Texas make $7.86 per hour. Beyond ridiculous, right? And we head how of course it makes it damn near impossible to find and keep good workers.
Finally, Bruce and others were escorted inside to talk to the suits. Down on the street—more chanting, more testifying until Bruce and team emerged with Eve Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at DoJ. Addressing us on the bullhorn she said DoJ was anxious to move forward on an Olmstead case involving someone in an institution but it needed to be a strong case with an excellent chance of winning. She agreed to work with ADAPT to try to locate the ideal plaintiff.
After our McDonald’s break we proceeded to HQ of the Department of Health and Human Services. The barricades were up at HHS, too, but that’s always the case when ADAPT comes to town. Guilty conscious again? Well anyway, again instead of charging we lined up and stared them down. We chanted for HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to come out.
ADAPT was at HHS because the Department of Labor recently promulgated new rules that mandate overtime for in-home attendant care. Without adequate Medicaid reimbursement critical service hours are being cut and persons with disabilities who live in the community are at risk of being forced into nursing homes. In addition, low wages for attendants are making it increasingly difficult for persons with disabilities to recruit and retain quality attendants. ADAPT demanded that Burwell:
1) Recognize that inadequate Medicaid rates have driven down attendant wages and consequently undercut the ability of Americans with disabilities to live in freedom. We therefore further demand that Secretary Burwell use HHS’s authority to ensure that state Medicaid rates are sufficient to secure the workforce needed for community integration.
2) Utilize HHS’s authority regarding Medicaid rates to ensure that states have adequate Medicaid rates to cover the increased costs associated with the Companionship rule changes made by the Department of Labor.
3) Instruct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to utilize their authority to ensure that states implement managed care in a manner that promotes community living. We believe that HHS can accomplish this by including and enforcing strict terms and conditions as part of the process for approving community living waivers (also known as1115 waivers).
ADAPT Activists at the Republican National Headquarters. Photo by Dave Fulton4) Instruct the HHS Office for Civil Rights to take a stronger role in enforcement of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision by implementing a plan to promote community living that complies. The Olmstead decision established that the Americans with Disabilities Act provided persons with disabilities the civil right to live in their own homes and communities. Recognizing that some states might rely on institutional settings in violation of the ADA, the decision also provides states with a defense from lawsuits. This defense involves developing effective plans for ensuring that persons with disabilities can transition from and avoid moving into nursing facilities.
5) Meet with ADAPT and Congressional representatives to support the development of civil rights legislation clarifying and strengthening the ADA’s integration mandate. This mandate will ensure that people with disabilities have a community-based alternative to institutional placement that allows them to lead an independent life.
A woman wearing a pink jacket came out. It wasn’t Burwell. It was Kathy Greenlee, Administrator for the Administration of Community Living at HHS. Off to the side, she negotiated with Bruce, Mike Oxford, Anita Cameron and Cathy Cranston. Then it was Greenlee’s turn to address us with the bullhorn. She agreed to take our demands to the Secretary and her chieftains and to arrange a meeting with ADAPT and them to discuss it all.
All this was accomplished and it was only 3 p.m. So the color teams split off. One batch of ADAPTers marched to HQ of the Democratic National Committee and the other batch marched to the Republica National Committee. The demand at both places was for the parties to endorse the Community integration Act (CIA). More on the CIA tomorrow.
At the DNC we were greeted by Reverend Regina Thomas, Director of Community Engagement. She was cordial but nervous. She agreed to meet in the near future with ADAPT.
The DNC ADAPTers then joined the RNC batch, who had been greeted by a locked door. But enough ruckus was made to persuade RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer to come out. Spicer agreed to take ADAPT’s CIA endorsement to the RNC platform committee.
It was a trifecta plus one. What do you call that? A quadrafecta? Whatever you call it, it was a productive day.
http://www.adapt.org/freeourpeople/2015dc/report04.php

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