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Thursday, October 23, 2014

4th Annual My American Dream – Voices of Americans with Disabilities Video Contest Finalists - Please Vote to choose the Winner !

as shared by NATIONAL DISABILITY INSTITUTE


National Disability Institute Launches 4th Annual My American Dream Video Contest

August 5, 2014
National Disability Institute (NDI), the first national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to building a better economic future for people with disabilities, kicked off its 4th Annual My American Dream – Voices of Americans with Disabilities Video Contest today. The contest encourages people with disabilities to share their American dreams via video for a chance to win $1,000, a digital tablet and sessions with a mentor to help make those dreams a reality.

“Like all Americans, people with disabilities strive for and are working tirelessly toward realizing their American dreams,” said Michael Morris, executive director of National Disability Institute. “National Disability Institute launched the My American Dream Video Contest to help raise awareness that having a career, starting and running your own business, succeeding in college, purchasing your first home and achieving financial independence are the dreams of all people.”

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The finalists have been chosen! Now it's up to you to decide which contestant will win the grand prize of $1,000, a digital tablet and sessions with a mentor!

Below are videos from the Five Finalists, at the end of the post is the link to vote for your choice to win the 2014 “My American Dream” Video Contest !!!


2014 My American Dream Finalist - Emily Munson






2014 My American Dream Finalist - Robert Ransom






2014 My American Dream Finalist - Joseph Bishop




2014 My American Dream Finalist - Joseph Sumners





2014 My American Dream Finalist - Amanda Thompson




Please VOTE for your choice at the NATIONAL DISABILITY INSTITUTE website: CLICK HERE

3-D Printer Turns Photos Into Objects So Blind People Can Hold Onto Treasured Memories

wanted to thank John B share this interesting info

The Huffington Post | By Ryan Grenoble | Oct 22, 2014

WATCH the 'Touchable Memories' video.


YouTube Published on Oct 13, 2014 by PIRATE3D

Glance at an old photograph, and all of a sudden the memories come rushing back: The ski trip you took with your family as a child; the first time you rode a bike without training wheels; a beloved grandparent, perhaps.
Simple, right? Not for the blind, who are unable to "see" the photo in question. That's the issue Pirate3D, a 3-D printer manufacturing company, aims to address with their "Touchable Memories" experiment.
In a video released last week, the company explored the power of recreating photos for the blind with a 3-D printer, extruding them in plastic so they, too, could have a tangible means to relive treasured memories. The video follows five seeing-impaired individuals as they recall memories which one woman, Daniela, describes as "almost like dreams, like a gust of wind -- there and it's gone."
The emotional impact of the 3-D photographs cannot be overstated, as each of the individuals clearly, vividly relives each particular memory as they explore the plastic models.
"There were very long silences while we saw emotions wash over their faces as if they were being transported in time, but Daniela was perhaps who stands out the most," project lead Fred Bosch told FastCompany of the experiment. "She chose a memory that not only brought her back to her childhood and the ski holiday she spent with her family, but also reminded her of intimate details that she had forgotten, like the wool cap she was wearing at the time and the crunch of the snow beneath her boots."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/22/touchable-memories-3d-printing-blind_n_6028656.html

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Bullying Prevention Resources Galore for Educators

please share this Bullying info...

NEA Logo
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and there’s a cornucopia of resources for educators.
On www.nea.org/bullyfree, you can link to:
  • NEA’s popular Bullying Prevention Kit
  • The PBS streaming of the movie, Bully, which is highly recommended by NEA
  • Actor and rap artist Tray Chaney’s inspiring video on bullying prevention
  • All Kids Deserve to Be Safe from Bully: Jake’s Story—an article on how Minnesota’s new bullying prevention law is making a difference
  • A research-based blog on preventing the bullying of our most bullied student group—students with disabilities—Create a Safe and Caring Climate for Students with Disabilities and You Shall Be Rewarded
Also, on www.nea.org/bullyfree you will find the proceedings of the NEA Bully Free School Climate Conference, where you can access the PowerPoint presentations of some of the nation’s leading experts on school climate and bullying prevention.
New Poster:
NEA Human and Civil Rights has produced a Spanish version of our Bully Free: It Starts With Me poster.
NEA Bully Free Poster 2014 Spanish
If you want to print the Spanish Bully Free poster, you can download the PDF fromwww.nea.org/bullyfree

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services announces $840 million initiative to improve patient care and lower costs

PRESS RELEASE | Oct 23, 2014
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

HHS Secretary announces $840 million initiative to improve patient care and lower costs

New initiative will support networks that help doctors access information and improve health outcomes
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced an initiative that will fund successful applicants who work directly with medical providers to rethink and redesign their practices, moving from systems driven by quantity of care to ones focused on patients’ health outcomes, and coordinated health care systems. These applicants could include group practices, health care systems, medical provider associations and others. This effort will help clinicians develop strategies to share, adapt and further improve the quality of care they provide, while holding down costs. Strategies could include:
  • Giving doctors better access to patient information, such as information on prescription drug use to help patients take their medications properly;
  • Expanding the number of ways patients are able communicate with the team of clinicians taking care of them;
  • Improving the coordination of patient care by primary care providers, specialists, and the broader medical community; and
  • Using electronic health records on a daily basis to examine data on quality and efficiency.
“The administration is partnering with clinicians to find better ways to deliver care, pay providers and distribute information to improve the quality of care we receive and spend our nation’s dollars more wisely,” said Secretary Burwell.  “We all have a stake in achieving these goals and delivering for patients, providers and taxpayers alike.”
Through the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, HHS will invest $840 million over the next four years to support 150,000 clinicians. With a combination of incentives, tools, and information, the initiative will encourage doctors to team with their peers and others to move from volume-driven systems to value-based, patient-centered, and coordinated health care services. Successful applicants will demonstrate the ability to achieve progress toward measurable goals, such as improving clinical outcomes, reducing unnecessary testing, achieving cost savings and avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations. 
The initiative is one part of a strategy advanced by the Affordable Care Act to strengthen the quality of patient care and spend health care dollars more wisely. For example, the Affordable Care Act has helped reduce hospital readmissions in Medicare by nearly 10 percent between 2007 and 2013 – translating into 150,000 fewer readmissions – and quality improvements have resulted in saving 15,000 lives and $4 billion in health spending during 2011 and 2012.
Building upon successful models and programs, such as the Quality Improvement Organization Program, Partnership for Patients with Hospital Engagement Networks, and Accountable Care Organizations, the initiative provides opportunities for participating clinicians to collaborate and disseminate information. Through a multi-pronged approach to technical assistance, it will identify existing health care delivery models that work and rapidly spread these models to other health care providers and clinicians.
“This model will support and build partnerships with doctors and other clinicians across the country to provide better care to their patients. Clinicians want to spend time with their patients, coordinate care, and improve patient outcomes, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services wants to be a collaborative partner helping clinicians achieve those goals and spread best practices across the nation,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS chief medical officer.
Practice Transformation Networks. CMS will award cooperative agreements to group practices, health care systems, and others that join together to serve as trusted partners in providing clinician practices with quality improvement expertise, best practices, coaching and assistance. These practices have successfully achieved measurable improvements in care by implementing electronic health records, coordinating among patients and their families, and performing timely monitoring and interventions of high-risk patients to prevent unnecessary hospitalization and readmissions. Practice Transformation Networks will work with a diverse range of practices, including those in rural communities and those that provide care for the medically underserved.
Support and Alignment Networks. CMS will award cooperative agreements to networks formed by medical professional associations and others who would align their memberships, communication channels, continuing medical education credits and other work to support the Practice Transformation Networks and clinician practices. These Support and Alignment Networks would create an infrastructure to help identify evidence-based practices and policies and disseminate them nationwide, in a scalable, sustainable approach to improved care delivery.
By participating in the initiative, practices will be able to receive the technical assistance and peer-level support they need to deliver care in a patient-centric and efficient manner, which is increasingly being demanded by health care payers and purchasers as part of a transformed care delivery system. Participating clinicians will thus be better positioned for success in the health care market of the future - one that rewards value and outcomes rather than volume.
HHS encourages all interested clinicians to participate in this initiative. For more information on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, please visit: http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Transforming-Clinical-Practices/

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http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/10/20141023a.html

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: October 23, 2014

DETROIT-AREA HOME HEALTH AGENCIES FOUNDER PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONSPIRACY

as posted by>


Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FOUNDER OF DETROIT-AREA HOME HEALTH AGENCIES PLEADS GUILTY TO HEALTH CARE FRAUD CONSPIRACY
The founder of three Detroit-area home health agencies pleaded guilty today in federal court for his role in a $22 million home health care fraud scheme.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Chicago Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Detroit Field Office made the announcement.
Tayyab Aziz, 45, of Homer Glen, Illinois, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in the Eastern District of Michigan to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  His sentencing is scheduled for March 3, 2015.
According to admissions in his plea agreement, Aziz founded three Detroit-area home health care agencies, Prestige Home Health Services Inc. (Prestige), Royal Home Health Care Inc., and Platinum Home Health Services Inc. (Platinum).  Using these companies, Aziz admitted that he orchestrated a conspiracy to defraud Medicare through fraudulent billings for home health care services.   
Specifically, Aziz admitted that he and his co-conspirators submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare for services that were medically unnecessary or never performed.  They also submitted claims for services purportedly provided to Medicare beneficiaries who were recruited through illegal kickbacks paid to the patients and recruiters.  To conceal the fraud, Aziz admitted that he and his co-conspirators created fictitious physical therapy files to document physical therapy and other services that had not actually been provided and were not medically necessary.  Aziz also created and submitted falsified records to the Michigan Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) in order for Prestige and Platinum to remain accredited Medicare providers. 
As a result of Aziz’s fraudulent conduct, Medicare paid approximately $1,915,513.  Five of six other defendants in this case have also previously pleaded guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI, HHS-OIG and IRS-CI 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 Michigan.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Niall M. O’Donnell and James P. McDonald 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 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $6 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 Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/founder-detroit-area-home-health-agencies-pleads-guilty-health-care-fraud-conspiracy

DaVita Healthcare Partners to Pay $350 Million to Resolve Allegations of Illegal Kickbacks

as posted by>

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
DaVita to Pay $350 Million to Resolve Allegations of Illegal Kickbacks
DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc., one of the leading providers of dialysis services in the United States, has agreed to pay $350 million to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis clinics, the Justice Department announced today. DaVita is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and has dialysis clinics in 46 states and the District of Columbia.
The settlement today resolves allegations that, between March 1, 2005 and February 1, 2014, DaVita identified physicians or physician groups that had significant patient populations suffering renal disease and offered them lucrative opportunities to partner with DaVita by acquiring and/or selling an interest in dialysis clinics to which their patients would be referred for dialysis treatment. DaVita further ensured referrals of these patients to the clinics through a series of secondary agreements with the physicians, including  entering into agreements in which the physician agreed not to compete with the DaVita clinic and non-disparagement agreements that would have prevented the physicians from referring their patients to other dialysis providers. 
“Health care providers should generate business by offering their patients superior quality services or more convenient options, not by entering into contractual agreements designed to induce physicians to provide referrals,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Jonathan F. Olin. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting the integrity of our healthcare system and ensuring that financial arrangements in the healthcare marketplace comply with the law.”
The government alleged that DaVita used a three part joint venture business model to induce patient referrals.  First, using information gathered from numerous sources, DaVita identified physicians or physician groups that had significant patient populations suffering renal disease within a specific geographic area. DaVita would then gather specific information about the physicians or physician group to determine if they would be a “winning practice.” In one transaction, a physician’s group was considered a “winning practice” because the physicians were “young and in debt.”  Based on this careful vetting process, DaVita knew and expected that many, if not most, of the physicians’ patients would be referred to the joint venture dialysis clinics.
Next, DaVita would offer the targeted physician or physician group a lucrative opportunity to enter into a joint venture involving DaVita’s acquisition of an interest in dialysis clinics owned by the physicians, and/or DaVita’s sale of an interest in its dialysis clinics to the physicians. To make the transaction financially attractive to potential physician partners, DaVita would manipulate the financial models used to value the transaction.  For example, to decrease the apparent value of clinics it was selling, DaVita would employ an assumption it referred to as the “HIPPER compression,” which was based on a speculative and arbitrary projection that future payments for dialysis treatments by commercial insurance companies would be cut by as much as half in future years. These manipulations resulted in physicians paying less for their interest in the joint ventures and realizing returns on investment which were extraordinarily high, with pre-tax annual returns exceeding 100 percent in some instances. 
Last, DaVita ensured future patient referrals through a series of secondary agreements with their physician partners. These included paying the physicians to serve as medical directors of the joint venture clinics, and entering into agreements in which the physicians agreed not to compete with the clinic. The non-compete agreements were structured so that they bound all physicians in a practice group, even if some of the physicians were not part of the joint venture arrangements. These agreements also included provisions prohibiting the physician partners from inducing or advising a patient to seek treatment at a competing dialysis clinic. These agreements were of such importance to DaVita that it would not conclude a joint venture transaction without them.
The Government’s complaint identifies a joint venture with a physicians’ group in central Florida as one of several examples illustrating DaVita’s scheme to improperly induce patient referrals. The group had previously been in a joint venture arrangement involving dialysis clinics with Gambro, Inc., a dialysis company acquired by DaVita in 2005. Prior to the acquisition, Gambro had entered into a settlement with the United States to resolve alleged kickback allegations that, among other things, required Gambro to unwind its joint venture agreements. As a consequence, Gambro purchased the group’s interest in the joint venture clinics and agreed to a “carve-out” of the associated non-competition agreement which allowed the group to open its own dialysis clinic nearby, which it did. After acquiring Gambro, DaVita bought a majority position in the group’s newly established dialysis clinic, and sold a minority position in three DaVita-owned clinics. Despite the fact that each of the clinics involved were roughly comparable in terms of size and profits, DaVita agreed to pay $5,975,000 to acquire a 60 percent interest in the group’s clinic, while selling a 40 percent interest in the three clinics it owned for a total of $3,075,000. As part of this joint venture, the group agreed to enter into new non-compete agreements. 
“This case involved a sophisticated scheme to compensate doctors illegally for referring patients to DaVita’s dialysis centers.   Federal law protects patients by making buying and selling patient referrals illegal, so as to ensure that the interest of the patient is the exclusive factor in the referral decision,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.  “When a company pays doctors and/or their practice groups for patient referrals, the company’s focus is not on the patient, but on the profit to be extracted from providing services to the patient.”
In conjunction with today’s announcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that after extensive review, it is closing its criminal investigation of two specific joint ventures.
As part of the settlement announced today, DaVita has also agreed to a Civil Forfeiture in the amount of $39 million based upon conduct related to two specific joint venture transactions entered into in Denver, Colorado.   Additionally, DaVita has entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services which requires it to unwind some of its business arrangements and restructure others, and includes the appointment of an Independent Monitor to prospectively review DaVita’s arrangements with nephrologists and other health care providers for compliance with the Anti-Kickback Statute.
“Companies seeking to boost profits by paying physician kickbacks for patient referrals – as the government contended in this case – undermine impartial medical judgment at the expense of patients and taxpayers,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  “Expect significant settlements and our continued investigation of such wasteful business arrangements.” 
The settlement resolves allegations originally brought in a lawsuit filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery.  The suit was filed by David Barbetta, who was previously employed by DaVita as a Senior Financial Analyst in DaVita’s Mergers and Acquisitions Department. Mr. Barbetta’s share of the recovery has yet to be determined.             
This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $22.4 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $14.2 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.
The case was handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. 
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. David Barbetta v. DaVita, Inc. et al., No. 09-cv-02175-WJM-KMT (D. Colo.).  The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/davita-pay-350-million-resolve-allegations-illegal-kickbacks

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society Annual Research Symposium Attracts Capacity Crowd



as shared by Greater Illinois Chapter MS Society


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Fannie & Charles Penikoff Multiple Sclerosis Research Symposium Attracts Capacity Crowd in Rosemont, Illinois

19th Annual Symposium Discusses Progress and Future of MS Research

              
CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2014  The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter presented its 19th Annual Fannie & Charles Penikoff Research Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. Dr. Barry Arnason, professor of neurology at the University of Chicago and the 2014 Dystel Prize for MS Research recipient, kicked off the event with a keynote address discussing the symposium’s focus: how far we’ve come and where we are going in the field of MS research.

Displaying Dr. Arnason Keynote.JPG
Dr. Barry Arnason, professor of neurology at the University of Chicago and the 2014 Dystel Prize for MS Research
Arnason began his MS research career in 1959 as one of the MS Society’s first fellows and is now an internationally-recognized leader in the field. As a founding father of neuro-immunology, he advanced understanding of basic T-cell makeup and functioning and initiated development of immune-modulating therapies in MS. His contributions earned him the 2014 Dystel Prize, a $15,000 award given jointly by the American Academy of Neurology and the MS Society.

Since its founding by Sylvia Lawry in 1946, the MS Society has invested $868 million to advancing MS research, including $50 million in the past year to support more than 380 national research projects. The research symposium, now in its 19th year, celebrates these initiatives and invites experts such as Arnason who are at the forefront of MS research to speak and answer questions about their important work in the field.

As Arnason took to the podium Saturday to address the more than 500 people in attendance, he offered valuable insight into the progress of MS research over the past couple centuries and what he hopes to accomplish in the future through his own work.

“My personal emphasis in terms of treating progressive MS has shifted to drugs that cross the blood-brain barrier,” said Arnason, describing the layer of cells around the brain’s blood vessels that prevents the passage of certain drugs that may be helpful in treating MS.

“Most of the drugs that neurologists use [cross the blood-brain barrier]. Most of the drugs used by immunologists don’t. What that suggests is that there may be new uses for old drugs in people with progressive MS that’s never been tested.”

Other research symposium speakers included Drs. Anthony Reder and Danielle Detterman from the University of Chicago, Dr. Daniel Wynn of Consultants in Neurology and Dr. Robert W. Motl from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They presented sessions on vitamin D, MS and diet, therapies in the pipeline, and exercise and MS, which ran two at a time for one hour each.

The Greater Illinois Chapter’s annual meeting took place midday, with remarks from the current board of trustees’ chair, Sean Gallagher, and the incoming board chair, Bill Gillispie. The chapter’s volunteer recognition awards ceremony honoring the hard work of volunteers and advocates in 2014 followed the annual meeting.

Volunteer honorees included the following: Phil Berger (posthumously) and family, Mike Cordes, Edward Coury, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, Illinois House Leader James B. Durkin, Board of Trustees Chair Gallagher, Nancy Ireland, Allen Joffe, Brandon Joffe, Hailey Joffe, Cecile Perez, Dave Perez, Johnny Perona, Jim Schallman, Laura Schallman and Jean Young as well as the Scottish Rite Masons Bike MS team, the KPMG Stompers Walk MS team, Golin Public Relations Firm and Sam’s Club.   

The event also included a health expo in the hotel’s grand ballroom entrance, which provided attendees access to helpful information on maintaining health and wellness through a showcase of different sponsor exhibitions.

For more information about this year’s event, visit MSillinois.org or call 1-800-344-4867.

Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease that interrupts the flow of information in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The Greater Illinois Chapter mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of more than 20,000 individuals in Illinois and 2.3 million worldwide affected by MS.

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Equal Rights Center FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST RETAILER "KOHL'S" FOR LACK OF ACCESSIBLE STORES NATIONWIDE

For Immediate Release:
Grant Beck, Equal Rights Center, 202.370.3227
gbeck@equalrightscenter.org

ERC FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST MAJOR U.S. RETAILER FOR LACK OF ACCESSIBLE STORES NATIONWIDE

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2014—Yesterday, the Equal Rights Center (ERC)—a national non-profit civil rights organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.—filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Kohl’s Corporation and Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. (Kohl’s), a Wisconsin-based department store retail chain. The suit alleges that Kohl’s violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New York Human Rights Law by discriminating against customers with mobility disabilities at department store locations nationwide.
“Individuals with disabilities have a right to accessible public accommodations under the law,” said Melvina Ford, executive director of the ERC. “By denying shoppers with disabilities the ability to successfully navigate their stores, Kohl’s is participating in a practice of systematically denying equal access to individuals with disabilities.”
The ERC undertook a survey of the accessibility of Kohl’s department stores after receiving a number of complaints from both ERC members and non-members shopping at Kohl’s locations nationwide. Based on the pervasiveness and geographical span of these complaints, the ERC surveyed stores located in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Accessibility barriers were found at all 41 locations surveyed, including: too narrow aisles, inaccessible sales or service counters, inaccessible merchandise displays, inaccessible parking spaces, inaccessible restroom facilities and inaccessible fitting rooms. Executives at Kohl’s were made aware of the complaints as early as 2012.
“Discriminatory practices against customers with disabilities, whether intentional or unintentional, are a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA],” said Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “The accessibility barriers described in the complaint are the direct result of Kohl’s failure to comply with the ADA.”
According to a 2010 report from the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 3.6 million individuals in the United States who have mobility disabilities and rely on the use of wheelchairs. These individuals constitute a significant portion of the U.S. consumer base, and deserve equal treatment from establishments that provide public accommodations. The ERC is represented in this matter by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, and Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd. of Chicago, Illinois.
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About the Equal Rights Center (www.equalrightscenter.org)
Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.  With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, disability rights, immigrant rights, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws..

Chicago Housing Authority opens up their wait lists for affordable housing. Registration available - Oct. 27th to Nov 24th




CHA helps build strong, vibrant communities throughout the city in partnership with a host of key stakeholders. As the largest owner of rental housing in Chicago, CHA provides homes to more than 50,000 people. CHA has almost 9,500 senior apartments and more than 7,000 units of family housing. It also oversees 35,000 Housing Choice Vouchers that allow low-income families to rent in the private market. 














2014 Waitlist Frequently Asked Questions



What is CHA’s Waitlist Lottery?


CHA’s waitlist lottery is used to fill affordable CHA-owned and assisted units in the City of Chicago as they become available. Names will be randomly selected using a lottery and placed on CHA’s waitlist. Those selected from the lottery will be contacted for housing assistance as it becomes available.


How do I register for the Waitlist Lottery?


You must register online by completing CHA’s waitlist lottery registration form at www.thechawaitlist.org. The registration period runs four weeks from October 27 through November 24, 2014. All registration forms received between these dates will be treated equally in the lottery. Registration forms will not be accepted after 11:59 p.m. on November 24, 2014.
If you are a person with a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to complete the online form, please call 312-971-7700.


Do I have to pay to register for the lottery?


No, it’s free. You are NOT required to pay a fee to register for CHA’s waitlist lottery.


What is the difference between CHA’s three waitlists?


For the first time, CHA will open all three of its waitlists at one time—Family Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher (formerly Section 8), and Property Rental Assistance.
• The Family Public Housing program provides affordable housing assistance to low income individuals and families in properties owned and operated by the CHA.
• The Housing Choice Voucher program provides housing assistance to low income individuals and families using a voucher in the private rental market (voucher is provided to applicant).
• The Property Rental Assistance program provides housing assistance to low income individuals and families using a property based voucher in eligible properties (voucher is provided to landlord for specific unit).


Can I register more than once for any of the waitlists?


No. Duplicate registration forms will not be accepted.


May I register for all three waitlists or am I required to register for only one waitlist?


You may register for one, two, or all three waitlist lotteries.


Is it possible to be selected for more than one waitlist if I register for two or all three?


Yes. It’s possible to be selected for more than one waitlist. You will be contacted if you reach the top of any of the waitlists.


If selected for a waitlist, do I automatically qualify for housing?


No. If selected for a waitlist, you will be screened to confirm that you meet the basic requirements of the program for which you are applying. Additionally, you must meet the
following requirements:
• Must be 18 years of age or older;
• Must meet income guidelines as set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The maximum
income for a family of four is $57,900 (or 80% of Area Median Income);
• Must meet eligibility guidelines found in CHA’s Administrative Plan or Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy. Visit thecha.org/policies to view or download these documents.


I do not have a personal computer. How can I register for the waitlist lottery?


You can register online using a smartphone or tablet. You may also visit any Chicago Public Library branch which provides computers with free access to the internet. If you are a person with a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to complete the online form, please call 312-971-7700.

I’m already a public housing resident that lives in a CHA property (family, scattered site, or mixed-income), should I register for the waitlist?

If you are the head of household already living in a public housing unit, your registration form will not be accepted. You may, however, register for the HCV and/or PRA program.


I currently have a voucher, should I register for the waitlist?


If you are a head of household you may register for the Family Public Housing waitlist. If you register for the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist your registration form will not be accepted.


What if I have other questions?


If you have additional questions, please call 312-971-7700.

Social Security benefits get another tiny increase for 2015

 — Come January, nearly 60 million Social Security recipients will get benefit increases averaging $20 a month, the third straight year of historically small pay hikes.
The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will also boost government benefits for millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees and people drawing disability payments for the poor.
Year after year of tiny increases are weighing on many older Americans.
"What is it going to cover? Not even the cost of one medicine," said Louis Grosso, a 66-year-old retired doctor who lives in Philadelphia. "Do you know how much my cholesterol medicine is?"
The government announced the benefit increase Wednesday when it released the latest measure of consumer prices. By law, the increase is based on inflation, which has been below historical averages so far this year.
For example, gasoline prices have dropped over the past year while the cost of clothing is up by less than 1 percent, according to the September inflation report.
Even medical costs, which disproportionately affect older Americans, are up just 1.9 percent over the past year.
Meanwhile, the amount of Americans' wages subject to Social Security taxes is also going up.
Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent payroll tax on the first $117,000 of a worker's wages — half is paid by the worker and half is paid by the employer. Next year, the wage cap will increase to $118,500, the Social Security Administration said.
As for payments to beneficiaries, Congress enacted automatic increases in 1975, when inflation was high and there was a lot of pressure to regularly raise benefits.
For the first 35 years, the COLA was less than 2 percent only three times. Next year, the COLA will be less than 2 percent for the third straight year, and the fifth time in six years.
This year's increase was 1.5 percent, the year before it was 1.7 percent.
"While any increase is better than no increase, the fact of the matter is that for millions of seniors, retirees and federal employees, these annual increases will be gone before most even receive them," said J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees.
In all, the COLA affects payments to more than 70 million Americans — more than a fifth of the country.
About 59 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,192.
The COLA also affects benefits for about 4 million disabled veterans, 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor. Many people who get SSI also receive Social Security.
By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.
The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year with prices in the same three months from the previous year.
"In the last several years we have had extremely low inflation," said economist Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. "Basically because inflation is low, the cost-of-living adjustment is going to be low, too. It's supposed to just compensate you for inflation."
President Barack Obama and some Republicans in Congress have expressed support for a more conservative measure of inflation that would, on average, result in smaller COLAs. Obama included the new "chained CPI" in his 2014 budget proposal, but he left it out of his proposal for 2015.
For next year, the chained CPI would have resulted in a benefit increase of 1.6 percent.
Many Democrats in Congress and advocates for older Americans have panned the chained CPI. They want a more generous COLA that, they say, would better reflect price increases faced by older Americans who tend to spend more of their income on health care.
The rise in medical costs has slowed in recent years, but people hit with serious illnesses can still see their individual costs soar.
"Seniors across this nation understand how important having an accurate measure of their real costs is to their day-to-day survival," said Max Richtman, who heads the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare. "While there has been a lot of talk in Washington about the need to find a more accurate COLA formula, unfortunately that attention has largely focused on ways to cut the COLA even further."
The White House has said Obama would accept the new inflation measure only as part of a larger deficit reduction package that also included tax increases. Such a "grand bargain" has been elusive in Obama's first six years in office.
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Associated Press Writer Martin Crutsinger contributed to this story.