Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Governor Quinn Makes Acting Appointments at Illinois Departments of Public Health, Children & Family Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 30, 2011

Governor Makes Acting Appointments at Illinois Departments of Public Health, Children & Family Services
Thanks Outgoing IDPH Directors Dr. Arnold, McEwen for Their Service


CHICAGO – September 30, 2011. Governor Quinn today appointed Dr. Craig Conover as acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Jean Ortega-Piron as acting director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Dr. Conover replaces Dr. Damon Arnold, who is leaving IDPH to create a Master's of Public Health degree program at Chicago State University. Ms. Jean Ortega-Piron replaces Erwin McEwen, who resigned last month.

“As he departs to pursue a new opportunity, I want to thank Dr. Arnold for his years of dedicated service to the people of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “Dr. Conover’s experience in a variety of medical fields will ensure that Illinois’ public health system continues to protect and improve the health of the people of our great state.”

Dr. Arnold’s tenure at IDPH has seen the department winning a number of awards and grants, including a $24 million federal grant to implement its “We Choose Health” initiative, announced yesterday. Under his leadership, the department has received consistently top scores from the Centers for Disease Control for public health preparedness, and has transformed its grant tracking and monitoring system to increase accountability. Dr. Arnold also worked to secure public-private partnerships for the state’s State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) to improve the health of Illinois residents.

Dr. Craig Conover has held several positions at IDPH since 2002, currently serving as Illinois’ chief epidemiologist and medical director of the office of health protection, where he is charged with responding to and preventing disease outbreaks. Before joining IDPH, he served as attending physician at the Emergency Department at the University of Vermont and Chairman of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Provident Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Conover holds a master’s degree in public health from the John Hopkins School of Medicine and an MD from the University of Rochester.

“Erwin McEwen was critical to the transformation of child protective services in Illinois and I thank him for his service to the children and families of our state,” Governor Quinn said. “Jean Ortega-Piron has made children’s well-being her lifelong mission, and I look forward to her continuing the progress we have made.”

Mr. McEwen created and implemented a wide-variety of reforms and improvements to Illinois’ child welfare system. DCFS and its private sector partners has safely reduced the number of children in foster care from more than 52,000 in 1997 to less than 15,500 today. The national model reduction was accomplished through reunification with birth families, subsidized guardianship, kinship care and adoption. McEwen also helped DCFS win four consecutive competitive federal grants to support and model child welfare innovations.

Since 1996, Ortega-Piron has served as Deputy Director, Guardian and Advocacy, acting as guardian for all children committed to DCFS by Illinois’ juvenile courts. In that role, she was instrumental in establishing the first-in-the-nation Memorandum of Understanding between a state child welfare agency and Mexico, and also established a system for monitoring psychotropic medications for state wards, described by the Chicago Tribune as the “gold standard” in the country. She has also served as the DCFS chief administrative law judge and administrator of the Appeals and Hearings Unit. Prior to that, she worked as chief legal counsel for the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Ortega-Piron is a graduate of Rosary College and the Chicago-Kent School of Law.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Oct 2011

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Celebrating 25 Years of Awareness, Education, and Empowerment


The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) organization is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services.

In 2009, NBCAM celebrates its 25th anniversary. Since its inception a quarter century ago, NBCAM has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues and has evolved along with the national dialogue on breast cancer. Today, NBCAM recognizes that although many great strides have been made in breast cancer awareness and treatment, there remains much to be accomplished. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we remain dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health by practicing regular self-breast exams to identify any changes, scheduling regular visits and annual mammograms with their healthcare provider, adhering to prescribed treatment, and knowing the facts about recurrence.

While October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the www.NBCAM.org Web site is a year-round resource for breast cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and the general public. We encourage you to visit our site in October and regularly throughout the year as we add updated breast cancer information and resources.

For National Breast Cancer Awareness Month webite visit:
http://nbcam.org/index.cfm

Combating Autism Act of 2011; Obama Extends back into Law Sept 30 2011

President Obama has signed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011. The bill extends the Combating Autism Act of 2006 for an additional three years for a total of $693 million for continued biomedical and treatment research on autism. For each of the next three years, the bill authorizes spending levels of $ 22 million for surveillance through CDC, $48 million for early detection and treatment programs through HRSA, and $161 million for autism research at NIH. The new law also reauthorizes the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.
###

Press Release
September 30, 2011

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Statement by the Press Secretary


On Friday, September 30, 2011, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2005, the “Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011,” which reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2006, which created and authorized funding for several programs and a coordinating committee at HHS for Autism research, screening, intervention, and education;

H.R. 2017, the “Continuing Resolution Act, 2012,” which provides FY 2012 appropriations for continuing projects and activities of the Federal Government through Tuesday October 4, 2011;

H.R. 2883, the “Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011,” which reauthorizes and makes changes to several child and family welfare programs, including: (1) the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services program; (2) the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program; (3) the Monthly Caseworker Visits and Regional Partnership grant programs; and (4) the Court Improvement Program, and reauthorizes child welfare demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in States; and

H.R. 2943, the “Short Term TANF Extension Act,” which provides a short-term extension of certain welfare programs that expire on September 30, 2011.

Chicago's Accessible Home Modification Program : Applications available Oct 1st thru Dec. 15th

City of Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)

Accessible Home Modification Program (HomeMod Program)


YouTube Uploaded by asaint2be on Aug 19, 2009

Sponsored by the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the HomeMod Program will allow people with disabilities, who are under the age of sixty, to receive home modifications that make their living environment accessible. Typical alterations include kitchen and bathroom modifications and the addition of interior and exterior lifts and ramps. Specific modifications can include the installation of grab bars, lowering cabinets and countertops and widening doorways. Subsequent work may include, but is not limited to, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, masonry, dry walling, tiling and painting.

All services will be performed in accordance with federal, state and municipal accessibility legal requirements. Modifications are limited to a maximum of $10,000 per project and are performed by licensed, insured and experienced home remodeling companies.

The Application Process:
•The HomeMod Program application period is open from October 1st through January 15th, 2011 for eligible clients between the ages of 0-59.
•Applications are not available prior to October 1st. To be placed on an advance mailing list for an application when the application opens on October 1st, please contact MOPD by calling 311.

# For more information, visit MOPD at: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mopd.html

Celebrating Disability Culture Day Oct. 6, 2011 : Western Illinois University

Macomb, Ill. — Celebrating Disability Culture Day will be held from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6 on the first floor of Western Illinois University's Multicultural Center.

Celebrating Disability Culture Day is designed to recognize the significance of the disability rights movement and disability culture. This year, participants can take guided tours of displays that highlight the progression of the disability rights movement.

According to Gretchen Steil Weiss, a learning specialist for Western's Disability Resource Center, “The tour will also focus in part on stereotypes of disabilities and the social implications of those stereotypes.”

The event is free and open to the campus community. Proof will be provided for students who are attending for class credit.

Celebrating Disability Culture Day is a collaboration between Western's Disability Resource Center, Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Students for Disability Awareness and the Multicultural Center.

For more information, contact Western's Disability Resource Center (309) 298-2512 or email disability@wiu.edu.

# Source: The McDonough County Voice Sep 29, 2011
http://www.mcdonoughvoice.com/lifestyle/calendar/x1726046208/Celebrating-Disability-Culture-Day-Oct-6

2011 Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes - Chicago - Soldier Field Stadium October 22, 2011

Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes
Chicago - Soldier Field Stadium Green
Join us on Saturday, October 22, 2011
2011 Goals!
Raise $385,000!
Recruit 200 Teams!
Register 2,200 Walkers!
WE CAN DO IT WITH YOUR HELP!!



Register Today and Begin Fundraising!

Become a part of Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes and start making your contribution to Stop Diabetes. Once you register, you can use our online fundraising tools to create your Personal Web Page, email your friends, family, and colleagues, accept online donations, and raise more money to Stop Diabetes.

It's more fun to Step Out together!
Gather your friends, family and co-workers and form a Step Out team! It's a great way to do something good together and share in a fun and healthy community experience.

When you walk, you help Stop Diabetes.
Walking is one of the easiest, most relaxing forms of exercise for many people, especially for those living with diabetes. Walking helps control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes and improves overall quality of life. It is also an activity that can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people at risk, currently there are 79 million Americans at high risk with prediabetes. Walk with us! Enjoy the beautiful 3.2 mile Step Out Walk along the Chicago lakefront!

Facebook Fundraising

If you are looking for a new way to raise funds, consider using the Boundless Fundraising application for Facebook. If you are using our online fundraising tools, just login to your Walk Participant Center and click the "Fundraise with Facebook" badge on your welcome screen. With a few simple steps, you can upload this Walk badge on your Facebook page and engage your entire social network in support of your efforts to Stop Diabetes®. Your Facebook friends will be able to join you or sponsor you directly from your Step Out Walk profile badge!

Helpful Guide to "Fundraise with Facebook"!!!

You can make a difference!

more than 40 states from coast to coast, more than 130,000 Walkers will Step Out to find a cure for this deadly disease. Join us and your support will make a difference to the 25.8 million Americans who suffer from diabetes.

If you have diabetes, you are a Red Strider!

A Red Strider is someone living with diabetes (Type 1, Type 2, or gestational) that walks in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes as an individual or on a team! The purpose of the Red Strider Program is to support everyone who lives with diabetes and showcase the courage it takes to live every day with this difficult disease. As a Red Strider, you are a VIP because YOU are the reason we walk!

Interested in Volunteering?

The success of Step Out depends on volunteers who help keep the event running smoothly! We need over 150 volunteers to make sure that our walkers check in, grab some great snacks and get the inspiration they need to reach the finish line.

Contact Megan Johnson at mejohnson@diabetes.org to submit your volunteer registration form or to learn more about volunteer opportunities.Volunteers are taken on a first come first serve basis.

Fundraising Center!

Need help with fundraising ideas? Need help with team recruitment? Check out the links below or contact Bridget Gutrch at bgutrich@diabetes.org or via phone at (312) 346-1805 ext. 6579.


Questions about Step Out Chicago?

Please Contact Bridget Gutrich at (312) 346-1805 X6579 or email BGUTRICH@DIABETES.ORG

Or Visit: http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR/StepOut/ChicagoNorthernILArea?pg=entry&fr_id=7864

Thursday, September 29, 2011

IDHS Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Help People with Disabilities Find Employment Sept 29, 2011


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2011


IDHS Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Help People with Disabilities Find Employment
Billboards Will Feature Customer Success Stories


SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) is launching a new aspect of its public awareness campaign to help people with disabilities enter the workforce. A billboard campaign will officially begin October 1 and reach every region of the state.

“We want to spread the word about the many services DRS provides. We are working to build partnerships with employers to help more people with disabilities find good jobs,” said IDHS Secretary Michelle R. B. Saddler. “We hope that by seeing these amazing stories, people will learn how DRS vocational rehabilitation services have helped others and realize that their success can be your success.”

The billboard campaign is called “Have a Disability and Need a Job? My Success can be Your Success” and will feature pictures of successful customers from across the state. Their inspiring stories can be viewed at www.drs.illinois.gov/success.

DRS joined forces with TV and radio stations across the state to get the word out about the division’s Vocational Rehabilitation services. This summer, the department partnered with the Illinois Broadcasters Association to produce public service announcements to air on 20 TV and 200 radio stations statewide. DRS recorded testimonials from several customers who have successfully entered the workforce and employers who hired persons with disabilities.

DRS provides an array of services to people with disabilities including vocational counseling, college and vocational training and job placement services, as well as employer consultations and financial incentives. Last year, DRS helped more than 4,600 Illinoisans with disabilities find good paying jobs.

The public awareness campaign was funded by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

For more information, please visit: www.drs.illinois.gov/success.

Or call toll-free at (877) 761-9780, TTY: (866) 264-2149 or video: (866) 588-0401.

Physicians must revalidate Medicare enrollment by 2013 : article Aug 2011

Doctors are concerned that enrollment problems could lead some in good standing to get kicked out of the program

Washington -- Roughly 750,000 physicians in the Medicare program soon will be asked to revalidate their individual enrollment records during a massive anti-fraud effort required by the health system reform law. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services hopes to weed out only the people who shouldn't have billing privileges, but physicians are concerned that legitimate health professionals could get caught up in the enrollment sweep by mistake.

CMS gradually will send revalidation requests by mail to more than 1.4 million health professionals -- more than half of whom are doctors -- between now and March 23, 2013, the agency announced on Aug. 10. Physicians who have enrolled since March 25, 2011, will not be required to revalidate, because their applications were scrutinized under new screening criteria, CMS said. Those receiving a request would have 60 days to recertify their enrollment information, which for some doctors will be similar to the process they first used to sign up with the program.

"Failure to submit the enrollment forms as requested may result in the deactivation of your Medicare billing privileges," CMS stated in the notice.

Previous revalidation efforts have targeted much smaller segments of physicians, such as those who had not updated their enrollment within the past five years or medical suppliers in areas known to be at high risk for fraud. Medicare administrative contractors across the country process about 27,000 new enrollments and more than 30,000 reassignments, or changes to billing and payment information, each month.

Doctors have described Medicare enrollment as tedious and confusing at times. Attempts to strengthen safeguards in the process have created problems for those caring for Medicare patients in recent years. In March, CMS implemented additional program integrity defenses mandated by the health reform law to prevent fraud. Physician practices have reported long wait times for new applications to be approved since then.

"We have very significant concerns with this revalidation effort in light of the problems physicians have had with enrollment and revalidation efforts in the past," said American Medical Association President Peter W. Carmel, MD. "The AMA is making this a priority and urging CMS to reconsider this action."

Physician practice administrators are being told to watch for the letters requesting revalidation, said Allison Brown, a senior advocacy adviser with the Medical Group Management Assn. in Washington. Practices are urged to begin revalidation as soon as they receive a request, she said. Physicians can revalidate using paper applications or by using CMS' online enrollment system, called PECOS, the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System, which CMS says is the most efficient way to submit necessary information.

But even if every practice complies with the letters as soon as they receive them, the plans to revalidate all health professionals who enrolled before March 25 would require contractors to process thousands of additional applications a day on top of the ones they already receive. Practices also must wait until their Medicare contractor sends them a request before they can revalidate.

"We may end up with enrollment backlogs just given the scope of the revalidation effort," Brown said.

Bureaucratic brick walls

The Neurology Medical Group of Diablo Valley in Pleasant Hill, Calif., saw the hassles of the Medicare enrollment process when it attempted to change the practice address for a neurologist who was starting at the medical group in September 2009.

The initial enrollment application sent in August 2009 went missing. A second application was denied on a technicality, and a third application was approved in February 2010. But the Medicare contractor would backdate the physician's enrollment status only to late November 2009. The contractor has denied the practice $30,000 in Medicare charges billed by the neurologist between September and November of 2009.

"It was insufferably delayed, so we could not serve Medicare patients," said Steven Holtz, MD, a neurologist at the group.

The practice recently hired another neurologist, who will start on Sept. 1. The practice sent the physician's Medicare enrollment application in July, but the contractor returned the application and noted that it was sent too early, said Nadia George, the practice administrator. Resending it on Aug. 1 resulted in an approval two weeks later, but that was short-lived. "The next day I received an email that said [the application] was rejected," she said.

She followed up with a phone call to the contractor's enrollment department and was told the application appeared to be approved. George is planning to have the new hire treat one Medicare patient before Sept. 1 and have him submit a claim to ensure that the physician is in the Medicare system.

Such an experience is not unique. Physicians tend to find enrolling in the Medicare program an unnecessarily long, complicated and bureaucratic process, said Donald Waters, executive director of the Alameda-Contra Costa (Calif.) Medical Assn. It's a task often left to professional credentialing staff and practice administrators. But even the most experienced staffers encounter problems with confusing language on enrollment forms and vague instructions that cost physician practices time and money, Waters said.

The MGMA's Brown said CMS has planned improvements to the enrollment website. Changes would allow physicians to sign online applications electronically, instead of having to print a certification statement for the application and mail it to a contractor. The improvements could be implemented by January 2012, she said.

# Source: American Medical Association By Charles Fiegl, amednews staff, Aug 29, 2011
http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/08/29/gvl10829.htm

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Illinois Family Caregiver Support Program : Help is Available

The Illinois Department on Aging and Aging Network have and will continue to focus on helping caregivers who reside throughout the United States. One in four households (25%) takes on the role of providing care to older family members and friends. Family caregivers serve as a critical component in providing the long term care needs of older adults. Eighty-five percent (85%) of all long term care services are provided by unpaid caregivers. If the work of these family caregivers had to be replaced by paid home care staff, the estimated cost would be $45 to $94 billion per year.


The caregiving role often evolves over time. The caregiver takes on more and more responsibilities, not realizing how involved he or she has become. For others, caregiving comes in a time of crisis, unplanned and unexpected. A sudden illness can turn an independent older person into someone who needs assistance on a daily basis.

Help is available whether you live in Illinois or another state. This web site is designed to give you information without overwhelming you, and to steer you to the places that have been set up to help you directly.

Call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (1-888-206-1327 TTY) to find help in your community, including case management, long-term care programs and transportation services.

Or Visit online at: http://www.state.il.us/aging/1caregivers/caregivers-main.htm

14-year-old Autistic boy suspended for running onto the field during halftime : High School Principal Gone

Banana Man Wins: High School Principal Gone

 - Sept 28 2011
The high school principal who pushed to suspend a 14-year-old autistic boy for running onto the field during halftime of a football game while wearing a banana man costume has resigned.

Karen Spillman lasted less than two months at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Va. The superintendent wouldn't say why Spillman is officially out.

Bryan Thompson became an Internet folk hero after he ended up in handcuffs in the back of a police car following his Sept. 16 stunt.

Fredricksburg.com reports the principal of the Virginia school sent a letter to Thompson's mother saying she was perturbed by Thompson's disrespectful actions to an administrator and his disruption of a school activity.

Thompson was given 10 days of suspension but only had to serve five.

Many felt the punishment didn't fit the so-called crime. The initial coverage of the story also started a discussion about autism. A parenting columnist in the Washington Post wrote: "Thompson's behavior might have been harmless, but the coverage has been another story, because it unnecessarily evoked autism for a stunt that any class clown could have pulled."

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) got involved after the school attempted to keep students from wearing T-shirts supporting the "Banana Man." A few students were punished with Saturday detention for their wardrobe decision. That suspension has since been retracted.

# Source: Yahoo Sports Written by: Ben Maller Sept 28 2011
http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/dish/201109/banana-man-wins-clash-high-school-principle

HILL-ROM COMPANY, INC. WILL PAY $41.8 MILLION TO RESOLVE FEDERAL HEALTH CARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION (home durable medical equipment)

September 27, 2011

Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee

HILL-ROM COMPANY, INC. WILL PAY $41.8 MILLION TO RESOLVE FEDERAL HEALTH CARE FRAUD INVESTIGATION


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Hill-Rom Company, Inc., one of the largest national suppliers of durable medical equipment, has agreed to pay $41.8 million to settle alleged violations of the federal False Claims Act and other federal laws and regulations. This is the largest civil fraud recovery ever by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The United States' investigation revealed that for a number of years Hill-Rom knowingly submitted numerous and repeated false claims to the Medicare program for certain specialized medical equipment – bed support surfaces for treatment of pressure ulcers or bed sores – for patients who did not qualify for this equipment. Hill-Rom submitted these false claims for patients for whom the equipment was not medically necessary, including claims for patients who had died or were no longer using the equipment. Hill-Rom had a practice of automatically billing for patients over long periods of time without making any reasonable effort to determine if the patients for whom it submitted the claims continued to meet Medicare conditions for payment. At the time it submitted these false claims, Hill-Rom was well aware of the Medicare laws and rules regarding coverage and claims for this equipment and its ongoing obligation to reasonably follow the condition of its patients.

The federal False Claims Act is intended to provide a means for the United States to recover moneys paid by federal programs to persons and companies who have knowingly sought and received funds to which they were not entitled. The payment Hill-Rom must now make in connection with this settlement is to compensate the Medicare trust fund for the moneys paid out of that fund which Hill-Rom improperly claimed and received during the period from 1999 through 2007. As part of this overall settlement, Hill-Rom has also entered into a comprehensive five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) to ensure its future compliance with federal health care benefit program requirements.

"Today's settlement is an example of the determination of both the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to enforce the federal False Claims Act and to protect the Medicare trust funds to ensure that the Medicare program remains viable to provide health care for today's seniors and disabled citizens as well as for the next generation," said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian.

"Too many giant corporations make business decisions believing that they are immune from charges of Medicare fraud," said Derrick Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the federal Health and Human Services Department, Office of Inspector General's region covering Tennessee. "This settlement puts companies on notice that, no matter their size, violating Medicare regulations will lead to investigation and prosecution."

U.S. Attorney Killian further noted that this settlement resolves a comprehensive investigation into Hill-Rom's Medicare billing practices which began as a result of allegations brought by two Hill-Rom former and current employees. Laurie Salmons and Lisa Brocco, both trained nurses who served as sales representatives for Hill-Rom, through their attorney David Burkhalter, filed an action on behalf of the United States under the qui tam, commonly-known as whistle-blower, provisions of the federal False Claims Act. Under the terms of the settlement agreement and as authorized by the False Claims Act, Salmons and Brocco are to receive jointly over $8 million from the proceeds of the settlement for their role in filing the qui tam complaint and actively assisting with the investigation.

The investigative team whose diligent efforts resulted in this settlement was comprised of representatives from the HHS-OIG, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General (RRB-OIG), U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Eastern District of Tennessee (USAO-TNE) and the District of South Carolina (USAO-SC), and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) Betsy Tonkin, Rob McConkey and Will Mackie represented the United States.

U. S. Attorney Killian commended the dedication and diligence of all who played a role in this complex investigation, in particular lead HHS-OIG Special Agent Tony Maffei, FBI Forensic Accountant/Certified Fraud Examiner LeAnn Lanz, RRB-OIG Special Agent Tom Tamburello, USAO -TNE paralegal Susan Page, USAO-TNE contract paralegal Renee Lange, and AUSAs Betsy Tonkin, Rob McConkey and Will Mackie for their oversight of the parallel civil and criminal investigation for the U.S. Attorney's Office. U.S. Attorney Killian also recognized the assistance of AUSAs Jennifer Aldrich and Fran Trapp from the USAO-SC, HHS-OIG Senior Counsel Tonya Keusseyan and DOJ Trial Counsel Tom Morris.

Final Report of Review: Ryan White (Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act) Funding and Payer Requirement Sept 22, 2011

Review of Ryan White Part B Funding and Payer-of-Last-Resort Requirement (A-05-10-00088)

Title II (Part B) of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990 provides grants to States and territories to fund the purchase of medications through AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) and other health care and support services. Part B grant funds may be used only for individuals determined to meet medical and financial eligibility requirements. Additionally, these grant funds may not be used to pay for items or services that are eligible for coverage by other Federal, State, or private health insurance. This provision is commonly referred to as the “payer-of-last-resort” requirement.
Five of the nine States that we reviewed claimed costs for prescriptions dispensed to individuals who had other health insurance that would have covered the drugs, and two States claimed costs for prescriptions dispensed to clients for whom the respective States did not maintain adequate documentation of ADAP eligibility. The States claimed unallowable costs totaling $33.4 million because they did not have adequate controls to ensure compliance with Part B payer-of-last-resort requirements or did not follow their eligibility procedures.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) could improve its oversight to ensure that States comply with payer-of-last-resort and eligibility requirements. We identified best practices in two States that HRSA could use in its outreach efforts to help States improve compliance with the statutory requirement that Ryan White funds not be used when private health insurance can reasonably be expected to pay for an item or service.
We recommended that HRSA (1) require States to work with their State Medicaid agencies to identify Ryan White clients who obtain Medicaid coverage during the period of their Part B coverage; (2) require States to process retroactive Medicaid claims for individuals eligible for Medicaid at the time Ryan White funds were used to pay their claims and credit the Ryan White program for any Medicaid payment; and (3) take steps to ensure that funds are not used to pay for drugs that are eligible for coverage by other Federal, State, or private health insurance. HRSA concurred with our recommendations.

For the detailed Report visit: http://go.usa.gov/8yP

2011 AIDS Run & Walk - Chicago : October 1 : info, link

AIDS Run/Walk : Saturday, October 1, 2011
Location: Grant Park, Upper Hutchinson Field – Columbus and Balbo

Since its inception in 2001, more than 20,000 participants, raising more than $3 million net, have converged in Grant Park to get moving against HIV/AIDS. Join the fight with thousands of others in 2011 and help the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) raise more than $500,000 net!


[refresh if no video]
From: AIDSChicagoNPO | Jan 7, 2010 | 1,742 views

T2 is an endurance training program that trains people at all levels of endurance to complete a MARATHON, HALF MARATHON or TRIATHLON and to raise money to triumph over AIDS. For more information, visit www.T2EA.com or www.facebook.com/TEAMTOENDAIDS.

It's never too early to start fundraising. If you need assistance please call (312) 922-2322.

# Click headline for website; or to register, sponsor a runner or walker, or find out more information about AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, visit us at www.aidsrunwalk.org.

$2.9M Federal Grant Will Help Disabled Find Work in Hawaii; 6 other states (IL) continue with grants: Sept 2011

Hawaii is among seven states that will receive more than $21 million under the US Labor Department Disability Employment Initiative, and Maui is in the running to receive part of the funds.

Hawaii will receive $2,923,674 to expand services at two one-stop career centers that provide education, training, and employment opportunities for unemployed adults with disabilities, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Congresswoman, Mazie K. Hirono, and Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa announced today, in a joint statement.

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will use the money to expand the disability services offered at two of the states’ 13 One-Stop Centers located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii. The grant is designed to serve two of the four counties in order to gauge success. The counties are chosen by lottery by the US Dept. of Labor.

The grant will allow the state and counties to improve the accessibility and accountability of Hawaii’s public workforce development system for persons with disabilities. We are going to build upon the promising practices the state and counties have implemented over the past several years, while studying the effects of innovative ideas to improve employment outcomes for adults with disabilities,” said James P. Hardway, executive director of the Workforce Development Council, a division of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the state agency that applied for the grant.

“Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will leverage funds from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Ticket to Work to provide training services while two staff in each selected site will collaborate with partners in the community to create a streamlined pathway to gainful employment for participants,” added Hardway. “The project will also collaborate with the Medicaid Infrastructure grant to provide key support services in the form of a targeted support service model cohort class housed within the one-stops that will help participants explore careers and identify educational and employment pathways.”

The One-Stop Centers provide free services to job seekers and employers, including job search assistance, personal career planning services, training opportunities, HireNet Hawaii support and a library resource center. The funds will help the state design programs and workshops that encourage employers to hire workers with disabilities while also preparing the worker for the responsibilities of full-time employment. The money will also help with the hiring of new staff members.

“In this difficult economy, our top priority needs to be job creation and preparing all workers for the rigors of full-time employment. Many people are having difficulty finding a job and people with disabilities have been hit particularly hard by the recession. These funds will help the state partner with employers and work with job seekers to ensure that our workers with disabilities have a productive place in our workforce,” said Senator Inouye.

“While so many families have been hurt in the recession, workers with disabilities have been among the first to see their jobs cut. In Hawaii, people with disabilities face an unemployment rate that’s nearly 70% higher than the national average,” said Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee. “This investment in job training and education puts more people back to work and helps businesses find effective workers.”

Key partners in the grant application were: Workforce Investment Boards and County One-Stop Centers; Department of Human Services (DHS),including Vocational Rehabilitation, Benefit, Employment & Support Services, and Med-Quest Division; University of Hawaii; Department of Health; Social Security Administration; Hawaii Disability Rights Center; Hawaii Business Leadership Network, and community and non-profit service providers.

The Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) aims to improve education, training and employment opportunities and outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits.

This round of funding is the second under the Disability Employment Initiative, which now supports 16 state projects. The new grants are part of cooperative agreements with California, Hawaii, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin to implement exemplary employment services for individuals with disabilities in the public workforce system. The states with continuing grants under the initiative are Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

All projects under this initiative build upon the department’s Disability Program Navigator Initiative by hiring staff with expertise in disability and workforce issues. The grants also support extensive collaboration across multiple workforce and disability service systems in each state, including vocational rehabilitation services, mental health and developmental disability agencies, Medicaid Infrastructure Grant-supported activities, independent living centers, business leadership networks, and other community and nonprofit organizations.

The Disability Employment Initiative also expands the workforce development system’s participation in the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program by requiring participating state workforce agencies or local workforce investment boards to become employment networks. Many Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries use the mainstream workforce system to seek employment opportunities. By serving as employment networks, grantees will expand the capacity of the department’s One-Stop Career Centers to serve Social Security beneficiaries with disabilities.

# Source: Maui Now By Sonia Isotov September 27th, 2011
http://mauinow.com/2011/09/27/2-9m-federal-grant-will-help-disabled-find-work/

Lots of concerns, few answers in Quinn closing plan of 7 state facilities : 5 serve people with disabilities

SPRINGFIELD — New reports from Gov. Pat Quinn's administration say that closing seven state facilities will cost Illinois 2,660 jobs and nearly $300 million in lost economic activity.


The governor's office gave the Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, or COGFA, the closing recommendations and economic impact studies for the seven sites Quinn has targeted for closing.

Those sites are:

◦Chester Mental Health Center in Chester;
◦H. Douglas Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford;
◦Tinley Park Mental Health Center in Tinley Park;
◦Jacksonville Developmental Center in Jacksonville;
◦Jack Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon;
◦Illinois Youth Camp Murphysboro in Murphysboro;
◦Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln.


Brie Callahan, spokeswoman for the governor, said lawmakers are to blame for the job losses at a time when Illinois’ unemployment rate is more than 9 percent.

“Last spring, the administration made it clear to the General Assembly there would be serious consequences to the budget they passed. … The General Assembly did not appropriate enough funds in these particular lines to keep all these facilities staffed and running for the entire year," Callahan said.
Quinn, when he announced the closings earlier this month, said 1,900 state employees would be laid off. The other 760 jobs would be indirect losses from restaurants and dry cleaners, for example, because their livelihoods depend on those state employees.

Chester

The Chester Mental Health Center in southern Illinois may be difficult for Quinn to close. The Legislature would have to change state law to allow the Alton Mental Health Center in Alton to replace Chester as Illinois' maximum security mental health center. Chester also would see its patients sent to the McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield, the Elgin Mental Health Center in Elgin and Chicago's Reed Mental Health Center.

The reports to COGFA state Chester's closing would mean the loss of:

◦485 workers;
◦581 total jobs lost;
◦$37.8 million in lost worker income;
◦$45.4 million in lost income from total job loss;
◦$55.4 million in total economic loss to the community.

Singer

Closing the Singer Mental Health Center would require local community care providers in Rockford to care for the 845 people usually treated at Singer.

But state Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, said that may not happen.

"I am extremely concerned that this will send people to hospitals or out (on) the street. A lot of these community providers do have group homes, but there is not enough room," Bellock said.

Closing the Singer Mental Health Center would mean the loss of:

◦164 workers;
◦272 total jobs lost;
◦$13.8 million in lost worker income;
◦$20.3 million in total lost income from total job loss;
◦$28.1 million in total economic loss to the community.

Tinley Park

The mental health center at Tinley Park is one of the state's busiest, handling nearly 1,900 people a year. Those people would be sent to community care providers and local hospitals.

Bellock said community care providers in Cook County are overwhelmed and she fears the worst if a plan to transition people out of Tinley Park slowly is not available.

"For a local community to step up and pay for this kind of care, that would be impossible," said Bellock.

If Tinley Park closes its doors, that would mean the loss of:

◦207 workers;
◦365 total jobs lost;
◦$19.8 million in lost worker income;
◦$34.8 million in total lost income from total job loss;
◦$50.5 million in total economic loss to the community.

Mabley

The fear in Dixon, home of the Jack Mabley Developmental Center, is jobs. Dixon Mayor Jim Burke said replacing nearly 300 jobs in his tiny town would be difficult.

"That'd be a pretty big blow (to the local economy)," said Burke. "There are some pretty well-paid people there."

If Mabley closes, that would mean the loss of:
◦174 workers;
◦244 total jobs lost;
◦$10.7 million in lost worker income;
◦$14.1 million in total lost income from total job loss;
◦$45 million in total economic loss to the community.

Jacksonville

The Arc of Illinois is one of the state's biggest advocates for people with developmental disabilities. But Arc President Tony Paulauski said closing Jacksonville is not a bad idea, as long as the state takes its time in finding new houses for center's 96 residents.

"I think, if the resources are there, and if (the state) makes an effort to work with the individuals and the families, I think you could do this in a year," said Paulauski.

However, Quinn is proposing to close all seven sites within 90 days.

Closing Jacksonville would mean the loss of:
◦441 workers;
◦591 total lost jobs;
◦$27.1 million in lost worker income;
◦$35.7 million in total lost income from total job loss;
◦$47 million in total economic loss to the community.

Murphysboro

The youth center in Murphysboro may be the easiest for Quinn to close.

Illinois' juvenile justice system, unlike the adult system, has room for the 59 youth inmates housed in Murphysboro.

If Murphysboro's youth center were to close, that would mean the loss of:

◦96 workers;
◦149 total jobs lost;
◦$6.4 million in lost worker income;
◦$8.9 million in total lost income from total job loss;
◦$23.5 million in total economic losses to the community.

Logan

No one in Lincoln believes Quinn is bluffing about closing Logan Correctional Center.

The town has one shuttered state facility, the Lincoln Developmental Center, and Mayor Keith Snyder said he doesn't want another.

"We lost somewhere around 600 jobs about nine years ago, and we're still struggling to recover," Snyder said.
There also are worries within the state's prison system. Closing Logan would force 1,500 inmates to sleep in gymnasiums at other prisons. Randy Hellmann works at Pinckneyville Correctional Center now, but was a guard at other prisons in the 1980s when Illinois last tried to keep inmates on the gym floor.

"I can't tell you the numerous fights, inmate assaults, and staff injuries when this did take place," Hellmann said.

If the Logan Correctional Center closed, that would mean the loss of:

◦356 workers;
◦460 total jobs lost;
◦$21.7 million in lost worker income;
◦$27.1 million in total lost income from total lost jobs;
◦$73 million in total economic losses to the community.

#Source: Illinois Statehouse News By Benjamin Yount |Sept 27, 2011
http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/6892/lots-of-concerns-few-answers-in-quinn-closing-plan/

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois : A voice for justice and equal opportunity since 1985! - info, resources...

Who are we?

Founded in 1985, The Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) grew out of the need for a statewide cross-disability rights organization that advocated for the rights of people with disabilities. For over twenty years CCDI has worked to improve the lives of people with disabilities, and teach the skills needed to affect change through our grassroots advocacy efforts. It is estimated that one out of every five Americans has some type of disability. As the largest minority in the country, people with disabilities have the ability to become a powerful force for change!

What do we do?

The answer to this question is advocacy, advocacy and more advocacy! CCDI is dedicated to advocating for the rights of all people with all types of disabilities. Whether it be at the local, state or federal levels, CCDI strives to keep our members informed of the most current disability rights issues and the ways they can help advocate.

How do we do it?

CCDI achieves our goals in a variety ways. We work to create a statewide network of advocates that connects individuals to others in their part of the state. Some of our members have chosen to form Chapters or Action Teams to work on specific advocacy issues. Each year CCDI creates an Advocacy Agenda of issues important to our membership. Advocacy Tool Kits are created to assist our members as they organize in their own communities throughout the state. CCDI also organizes rallies at the Capitol and partners with other disability focused organizations to create advocacy opportunities throughout the year.

Membership in CCDI is open to both individuals and organizations. Member benefits include a subscription to CCDI's disability rights newsletter The Catalyst, a discount on registration fees for our Annual Disability Rights Conference, information and referral services via our toll free line, Hot News and Action Alerts e-mails, monthly legislative updates and more.

For CCDI visit: http://www.ccdionline.org/index-2.html

Housing Action Illinois’ 2011 Annual Conference & 25th Anniversary Celebration: Chicago



Now is the time to mark your calendar because Housing Matters!

Each year, Housing Action Illinois' members and allies come together at our annual conference to network and learn.

Our 2011 Annual Conference and 25th Anniversary Celebration will be November 10-11 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro.

This year we are offering separate registration for the Thursday evening reception for those who are not attending the rest of the conference, but would like to still celebrate Housing Action’s 25 years of hard work and progress in the affordable housing field.

We invite you to join us!

We greatly appreciate the generosity of our lead sponsor, Chase. We also appreciate the support of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago and State Farm Bank.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, November 10


:00 a.m.—Registration
10:00 a.m.—Welcome and Plenary
11:30 a.m.—Lunch and Annual Meeting
1:00 p.m.—Workshops
2:30 p.m.—Workshops
4:30 p.m.—Keynote Address
5:00-7:00 p.m.—25th Anniversary Reception

Friday, November 11

:30 a.m.—Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:30 a.m.—Workshops
11:00 a.m.—Workshops
12:15-2:00 p.m.—Closing Lunch and Plenary

For detailed information go to 'Housing Action Illinois’ at:
http://housingactionil.org/index.html

Monday, September 26, 2011

Congress on Vacation This Week -- Leave a Message : Commentary By Dan McGinnis

COMMENTARY | Sept 26. 2011 | There is no federal budget. There is no plan to cut spending. There is no money left for disaster relief. There is no jobs plan for Americans. But Congress did decide to go home for a weeklong vacation.

After completing nearly a monthlong vacation in August, Congress again will adjourn for a weeklong vacation with a plateful of unfinished business awaiting its return. The House has already adjourned, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been unclear whether he will adjourn the Senate or require members to return to finish business.

At stake are the appropriate bills for every federal department and program. A continuing resolution to fund government programs has passed the House, but been defeated in the Senate. Since the House is in recess past the deadline, the Senate will be forced to pass the House bill or risk closing down the federal government on Oct. 1 when spending authority ends.

Didn't we just go through this?

It looks like Americans are going to have at least another year of rough-and-tumble politics on every spending measure, including the most basic bills to pay for essential services. Critical agencies such as Federal Emergency Management Agency are scraping for disaster relief funding.

The Associated Press is reporting FEMA is down to $175 million in available funds for disaster relief programs that are operating across the country. While each house of Congress has passed supplemental funding, they are substantially different on how they pay for that funding -- an impasse to passing it in each house.

It only gets better. In eight weeks, the congressional super committee charged with identifying $1.5 billion in cuts over the next decade must approve the first step in reducing the deficit or automatic spending cuts will occur in every federal program. So far, the committee has succeeded only in identifying their differences. But fear not: they are on vacation this week too.

Congress seems to have a careless mentality from the perspective of the average American. It has been unable to agree on anything, and clearly see every single issue as both an opportunity to battle it out and from the opposite point of view. I wonder if there has ever been such a level of distrust and inability to work together between our two political parties. It is a sad day for America.

#Source: By Dan McGinnis | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Sept 26 2011
http://news.yahoo.com/congress-vacation-week-leave-message-175500889.html

"50" Phenomenal Blogs on Health & Human Services

Climate change, natural disasters, pandemics and community-building are hot topics of conversation, both face-to-face and in the media. Health and human services resources blogs can help readers sort out the details and support provided for the larger issues as well as smaller concerns. The following list of 50 phenomenal blogs on health and human services focus on specific diseases and disabilities such as the flu, AIDS and HIV prevention. Other blogs cover broader subjects such as disaster preparedness and preventive health through nutrition and education. The following blogs are filled with current information about topics that address both the health professional and the general public.

Disease and Disability Blogs

1.A Chronic Dose: Laurie Edwards wrote the book, Life Disrupted, and is one of 125 million Americans who have a chronic illness.
2.AIDS.gov: This blog documents the large number of Federal agencies and programs that are engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, treatment, policy, and research efforts.
3.Disability Blog: This blog helps to connect people with disabilities, their family members, Veterans, caregivers, employers, service providers and others with the resources they need.
4.Flu.gov Blog: Flu.gov provides comprehensive government-wide information on seasonal, H1N1 (swine), H5N1 (bird) and pandemic influenza.
5.Health Protection Perspectives: This is an NCHHSTP leadership blog about HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.
6.HIV Prevention Justice: The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA) is a network of organizations advocating for effective and just HIV prevention policies for the United States.
7.Medical Colleges & Universities Roundtable: A collective blog to foster greater collaboration on health disparities and related workforce development issues.
8.NIAID Funding Blog: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explores funding, policy, and other topics for NIAID’s extramural research community.
9.Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease: PFCD is a coalition of patients, providers, communities, businesses and labor groups and health policy experts all committed to raising awareness about chronic disease.
10.Preventing Chronic Disease Dialogue: This blog encourages dialogue among chronic disease prevention, researchers, practitioners and advocates.

Food and Nutrition Blogs

11.Baptist Health Food & Nutrition: This blog covers all the food and nutrition information available from Baptist Hospital’s online library.
12.Egg Nutrition Center’s Nutrition Unscrambled: Nutrition Unscrambled is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board.
13.FDA Transparency Blog: The purpose of this Transparency Blog is to discuss various ways in which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could provide information to the public.
14.Food Insight Blog: The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, nutrition and food safety for the public good.
15.Food Safety Blog: Practical information and tips from the federal experts to help you and your family stay food safe.
16.HealthyKidsMo Blog: Follow news and discussion for the Missouri Coordinated School Health Coalition.
17.Nutrition.gov: This blog provides easy access to the best food and nutrition information from across the federal government.
18.The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog: Nabeeha Kazi Hutchins is Managing Director of Humanitas Global Development, an international development consulting firm based in Washington, DC.
19.The Water Filter Lady’s Blog: Read about questions, answers and information regarding safe drinking water and environmental issues and concerns.
20.UNL Food: Food, Nutrition and Health: The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension FOOD website connects you to information, resources and food experts about food from farm to fork.

Health Blogs

21.Be Active Your Way Blog: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created this blog to teach physical activity.
22.Genetic Diversity and Health: This blog provides a forum for commentary and perspectives on issues relating to the mission and research currently being carried out at the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health.
23.Health Care Notes: Find out which private insurance plans, public programs and community services are available to you and to your community.
24.IHS Director’s Corner: Dr. Yvette Roubideaux leads the discussion on this Indian Health Service blog for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
25.Injury Center: Director’s View Blog: The purpose of this blog is to foster public discussion about injury and violence prevention and response.
26.Open HHS Blog: Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, writes about harnessing the power of data, technology and innovation to improve the health and welfare of the nation.
27.OrganizedWisdom Blog: Get news and updates from OrganizedWisdom Health.
28.Public Health Matters Blog: The CDC shares their stories on preparing for and responding to public health events.
29.Safe Healthcare: This blog is hosted by the CDC’s division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.
30.The Medicare Blog: This is the official blog for the U.S. Medicare program.

State and Local Blogs

31.Ability Chicago Info Blog: This blog is a source for people with disabilities.
32.AZ Dept. of Health Services Director’s Blog: The Arizona Department of Health Services’ mission is to set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy, and leadership.
33.Commonwealth Conversations Health and Human Services: Massachusetts government offers a way to share ideas to promote health and to deliver human services.
34.HHS Network CA Blog: This is the official blog of the Health and Human Service Network of California.
35.Michigan League for Human Services: The League works to identify and help solve basic health and social welfare problems through research and analysis, information dissemination and advocacy.
36.School of Health and Human Services Blog: This is the SHHS blog out of National University.
37.Shirley Szekeres’ Blog: Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is carries professional programs in health and human services, education, and management.

Media and New Media Blogs

38.Health Out Loud: This blog is devoted to the idea of discussing best practices and questions about health communication, social marketing and health marketing.
39.Health and Human Services: This The New York Times‘ Prescription blog tracks the health care debate as it unfolds.
•Health IT Buzz: This blog is a service of HHS’s (Health and Human Services) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
•Health Privacy: The Center for Democracy & Technology provides a blog that focuses on practical and innovative solutions to public policy challenges.
•HHS Center for New Media: The mission of the HHS Center for New Media is to promote and support the strategic implementation of new media across the Department.
•State and Local Connections: A portal for SAS, with blogs concerned about health and human services, data and information addressed to states and cities.

Other Blogs

44.Commissioner’s Voice: This blog contains a reprint of the monthly column by the Commissioner of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement from the online Child Support Report.
45.Health Affairs: These blogs belong to the leading journal of health policy thought and research.
46.Health Reform.gov: The new health insurance reform law will give families the relief they need from skyrocketing health insurance costs, and will ensure Americans have secure, stable, affordable health insurance.
47.National Service Blog: This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own “do-it-yourself” projects.
48.Prepared Citizens: This blog reinforces healthy and caring relationships within communities, with the hope of alleviating hunger, relieving isolation and fear and building post-pandemic resiliency.
49.SAMHSA Dialogue Blog: The SAMHSA Dialogue Blog is a place where up-to-date information including articles from SAMHSA staff, announcements of new programs, links to reports, grant opportunities, and ways to connect to other resources are located.
50.The Arc Blog: The Arc’s mission is to promote and protect the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

# Source: Human Service Degrees - September 22nd, 2011
http://www.humanservicesdegree.org/50-phenomenal-blogs-on-health-and-human-services/

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dennis Schreiber, 1940-2011 - Disabilities Rights Activist - Chicago

[photo: In 1983, Dennis Schreiber prepares to leave Chicago for Washington to join a rally marking the 20th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speach (Chicago Tribune / September 26, 2011)]

Dennis Schreiber didn't let blindness, deafness and a wheelchair deter him in his fight for the rights of the disabled.

In several instances in the 1980s, Mr. Schreiber chained himself to Chicago Transit Authority buses on State Street to bring attention to the lack of accessibility, longtime friends recalled.

"There's a word that you should use: tenacious," said Jim Charlton, a longtime friend and fellow activist.

Mr. Schreiber, 71, died Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Seasons Hospice in Chicago after suffering a heart attack, said his wife, Jackie.

Mr. Schreiber was born in Washburn, N.D., and his family moved to Chicago when he was a boy. When he was 3, Mr. Schreiber's parents learned their son would eventually lose his sight. He had Refsum disease, a rare genetic disorder that over time took his sight, hearing and mobility, his wife said.

"A lot of people they're going through some kind of trauma — when you're losing sight, hearing, (your) sense of balance — that could be pretty overpowering and perhaps depressing," said James Kesteloot, former president of the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. "He was adjusted to his loss of sight and his loss of hearing, and he retained a fantastic attitude, sense of humor and dedication to making things better for people with disabilities."

It was Mr. Schreiber's own experiences that led him to be a passionate advocate for those treated unjustly. After getting his start in civil rights fighting for open housing, Mr. Schreiber began focusing on the rights of those with disabilities.

The longtime Archer Heights resident is considered an early crusader for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, his friends and wife said. In 1990, he attended the signing of the measure into law.

"Because of the discrimination he felt, he had to fight for himself and for everybody else," his wife said.

In 1988, during a Chicago City Council committee hearing about a proposed city ordinance that beefed up prohibitions on discrimination, Mr. Schreiber told aldermen he had been denied jobs, apartments and service in restaurants because of his disabilities.

"I don't want disabled people who are coming up to go through what I went through. I want the protection of law," Mr. Schreiber was quoted in a Tribune article.

"The vision was justice," said John Casey, a longtime friend and former president of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and former secretary general of the World Alliance of YMCAs. "People deserved to be treated with justice. Whether they were disabled people, minority people, poor people — his quest in life was justice."

In his advocacy work and with the many groups he worked with, Mr. Schreiber was known as a relentless fundraiser and recruiter.

"He would call and call" until the person would donate time or money to the cause, said Charlton, a co-founder of Access Living.

Mr. Schreiber also taught many people how to communicate with a deaf and blind person.

"With someone who is just deaf, you see it and you sign back," Kesteloot said. "With a person who is deaf and blind, he has to feel the sign language."

People would finger-spell into Mr. Schreiber's palm to hold a conversation with him.

At his side was his wife of 42 years, helping him as he conversed with people in person and over the phone.

"His wife was his eyes and ears. But he knew everything that was going on," Casey said.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Schreiber is survived by a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Annemarie.

Services were held.

#Source: Chicago Tribune By Becky Schlikerman, September 26, 2011
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-obit-schreiber-0926-20110926,0,5173776.story

ADHD Symptoms in Children with Autism Are Common, Problematic and Likely Undertreated

The symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) create significant problems for over half of all children with autism and may be both under-recognized and under-treated by pediatricians. These findings—from Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN)—were presented Sunday at The Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics annual conference, in San Antonio, Texas.

Lead researchers Parul Vora, M.D., of Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio, and Darryn Sikora, Ph.D., of Oregon Health Sciences University, in Portland, included information on over 2,000 children seen at 14 of the ATN’s 17 autism treatment centers across North America.

“Over half of these children had symptoms of inattention, over half had hyperactivity, and over a third had symptoms that were in the high range on both of these scales,” comments ATN medical director Dan Coury, M.D., one of the study’s co-authors.

To gauge the impact of these symptoms on the affected children, the researchers analyzed parent responses to standardized quality of life and daily function questionnaires. The results showed that children with ASD compounded by ADHD symptoms scored significantly lower in all areas of life quality (social, communication, etc.) and functioning (school, physical, emotional, etc.) compared to children with ASD alone.

Yet only one in ten (11%) of these children and adolescents were receiving medical treatment for their ADHD when they came to an ATN center, the researchers found. A number of stimulant medications have proven benefit for children with ADHD alone, Dr. Coury notes. “As such, parents of a child with both autism and ADHD symptoms may want to consider a trial of of medication to judge whether it is benefit to their child,” he says.

The decision to use medications to treat challenging behaviors is not an easy one, Dr. Coury emphasizes, and should include consideration of a family’s values and goals for their child.

For guidance, parents may find benefit in the ATN’s new medical decision aid, Should My Child Take Medication for Challenging Behavior? available for free download:

Medication Decision Aid:
http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/resources-programs/autism-treatment-network/tools-you-can-use/medication-guide

# Source: Autism Speaks at: http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/adhd-symptoms-children-autism-are-common-problematic-and-likely-undertreated

Chicago's Thousands Of Crumbling Sidewalks Going Unfixed : {Result = Lack of Safe Accessibility} : Sept 2011

CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s not hard to find cracked, broken and crumbling sidewalks in Chicago. Just about every neighborhood has problem and sometimes dangerous sidewalks and it’s likely to get worse with budget cutbacks threatened by the mayor.

In response to complaints from frustrated property owners, the 2 Investigators checked out just how long people have had to wait to get their sidewalks repaired.

As 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports, the pounding of a jackhammer is a welcome sound in a Southwest Side neighborhood one late summer day. To the neighbors who live there it means their sinking sidewalk is finally being replaced.

It’s a sound some Chicagoans have been begging to hear for years.

“I’ve been calling, oh about three years, for someone to please help us,” said Lillie Riley.

“I’ve been trying to get my sidewalks done for 20 years,” added Shawnta Finley.

“I just don’t get a response, I consistently try to get them repaired but nothing happens,” complained Jupiter Angulo.

The cracked sidewalk outside Riley’s home is so bad it’s causing people to fall. Just a couple of weeks ago Sheila Johnson was walking down that sidewalk near 105th Street and Eggleston Avenue when she tripped on a piece of the broken sidewalk.

“That’s when I went down and fell and went over in the grass,” Johnson recalled. She had been out exercising her artificial knee at the time of the fall. Now, doctors tell her that, because of the fall, she has to have another knee surgery.

“I shouldn’t have to go through another surgery. This is more painful for me now to have another surgery on the same knee,” Johnson said.

Last year, Chicago officials received 12,596 requests for sidewalk repairs.

Of those, 971 were fixed and then the city replaced another 172 blocks of sidewalks as part of their regular maintenance – an effort that left thousands of sidewalks in disrepair.

“I had to take things in my own hands and get things done myself,” said homeowner Shawnta Finely.

She said she waited 20
years for the city to repair her cracked and crumbling sidewalk. Finally, she asked a private contractor to fill in the cracks.

“That’s not fair that I pay taxes and can’t get my sidewalks done.” Finley said.

The Angulo family operates a small grocery store on the 2800 block of East 87th Street.

Jupiter Angulo worries that the cracked sidewalk in front of their store is driving business away. He says his family has repeatedly called the city asking for the sidewalk to be repaired.

“It’s a really nice store, as opposed to the sidewalks, which should represent how the store looks,” Angulo said.

The 2 Investigators have learned that, over the past three years, the city has paid out $3.5 million to people injured by broken sidewalks.

Michael Surratt received one of the largest settlements – $375,000 – after tripping on a hole and falling on a downtown sidewalk.

“I literally broke my neck. My doctors said if I had moved the wrong way in any direction, I’d either be dead or paralyzed,” Surratt said.

Surratt’s attorney, Adria Mossing, said the accident was compounded by fact that the city of Chicago knew there was a problem with the sidewalk where Suratt fell.

“We found out that there had been multiple 311 calls to the city in the very area that Mike fell,” said Mossing.

“That’s negligence on the part of the city. It’s dangerous. They should have had it repaired,” Surratt added.

A spokesman for the City Department of Transportation said officials review each 311 call for a sidewalk repair and, depending on how bad the damage is, work is scheduled – starting with the worst sidewalks.

The city says the sidewalk in front of the Riley home wasn’t that bad when they were first contacted about it. It was replaced last week by city workers, just days after the 2 Investigators made inquiries.

The CDOT spokesman said that, if you don’t want to wait to have your sidewalk fixed, you can speed up the process by paying half the cost of the repairs. It’s part of their 50/50 program. It costs property owners about $3 a square foot. Work through the shared cost program is done by private contractors.

For Full CBS2 Article with Video report: CLICK HERE

# Source: CBS 2 Chicago; Reporting Pam Zekman, Sept 20, 2011
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/09/20/thousands-of-crumbling-sidewalks-going-unfixed/#comment-198613

People with Disabilities protest proposed Medicaid cuts : Sept, 2011

ADAPT protest proposed Medicaid cuts

As President Barack Obama recently unveiled his debt plan, hundreds of activists with disabilities stormed the White House to demand a voice in the structuring of Medicaid reform.

ADAPT, a national disability rights direct-action group, is asking the administration to work with them officials to ensure that Medicaid dollars are invested in cost-saving community supports.

“The president says that he expects all Americans to share the burden of controlling the budget, but Medicaid recipients are already shouldering the burden for balancing budgets at the state level,” said Randy Alexander of Memphis ADAPT.

“States have already made significant cuts to Medicaid. How many more people with disabilities and seniors must lose our basic freedoms and lives in order to have done our share?”

Bruce Darling, an ADAPT organizer from Rochester, N.Y. said states have already reduced or eliminated vital home care services and forced seniors and people with disabilities into nursing facilities against their will.

“People are already experiencing reduced or eliminated access to basic health care, including medications.

“Jobs have already been eliminated for home care and direct care workers.”

ADAPT recognizes the need for new tax revenue and supports the president’s proposed so-called “millionaire’s tax.” Unlike Congressional Republicans who believe the burden of deficit reduction should only come from spending cuts to critical programs like Medicaid, the president has called for $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue.

ADAPT has reached out to the White House and Congress to offer proposals on how Medicaid spending can be contained that wouldn’t negatively impact the lives of Medicaid beneficiaries.

The ADAPT Community has identified four principles for real Medicaid reform:

* Expand the use of community-based services;

* De-medicalize services

* Expand consumer; directed service options

* Reorganize Medicaid services to eliminate wasteful bureaucracy.

“We are calling on the administration to work with us to promote the inclusion of these reforms,” said Cassie James Holdsworth of Philadelphia ADAPT.

“People have suffered enough in institutional settings.

“We want the president to invest in consumer-directed community based services as part of his deficit plan.

# Source: The Oakland Press By JERRY WOLFFE, Sept 23, 2011
http://theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/09/23/life/doc4e7d00f595643574367917.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chicago Midway Airport to enhance communications for deaf and hard of hearing passengers : Sept 2011

NEW VISUAL PAGING SYSTEM AT MIDWAY ELEVATES COMMUNICATION FOR TRAVELERS


New system aims to enhance travel experience for passengers with hearing disabilities.

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has launched a new visual paging system at Midway International Airport to enhance communications for deaf and hard of hearing passengers. The system displays text messages on Flight Information Display System (FIDS) monitors throughout the terminal to help connect passengers with family or friends, provide visual customer service messages, and when necessary, emergency notifications.

“The CDA is constantly exploring new technology and amenities to enhance our customer service and assistance for each and every traveler at Chicago’s airports,” said CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino. ”This new Visual Paging System aligns with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision to make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation. “

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a family member or friend needs to reach a deaf or hard of hearing passenger, the complimentary visual paging service is available by calling (773) 838-9660 or (773) 838-9661 (TTY). The message can be displayed on as many as 24 FIDS monitors located throughout the terminal. The CDA worked with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to develop this new technology and provide staff training.

"This system represents our ongoing commitment to make Chicago's airports and the traveling experience more accessible to people with all types with disabilities," said Commissioner Karen Tamley, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

The visual paging system is the latest of several initiatives undertaken by the CDA to enhance the travel experience for passengers with disabilities at Chicago’s airports. In April 2010, the CDA introduced a new disability awareness and assistance program at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Through the program, airport employees are trained to effectively recognize and help travelers who may require additional assistance.

As part of the program, the CDA developed a purple airplane icon to symbolize the program. The “Purple Airplane” symbol designates travelers who need additional assistance as well as staff and security personnel at Chicago’s Airports. The “Purple Airplane” artwork is available for download from www.flychicago.com. Travelers can print stickers on readily available labels prior to arriving at the airport. Airport employees who have completed the training program wear purple airplane pins.

MDW Visual Paging System

The CDA has also developed informational materials to inform travelers with disabilities about the resources available to them at O’Hare and Midway International airports. The brochures include a map highlighting accessibility throughout the airports and are available at both airports and online.

Over the years, the CDA and MOPD have worked collaboratively to provide the best possible customer experience for travelers with disabilities. An airport-specific training program is now in place to educate CDA and key airport staff about how to recognize and address the needs of customers with disabilities. More than 400 front-line airport employees from the areas of terminal management, security, concessions, ground transportation traffic management and Traveler’s Aid have received the training and wear a purple airplane pin signifying their willingness and ability to assist travelers with disabilities.
~~~~

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International airports. Together, Chicago’s airports generate more than $45 billion in annual economic activity and create 540,000 jobs for the region. Please visit www.flychicago.com to learn more about the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) transforms O’Hare’s airfield from an outdated system of intersecting runways into a modern parallel runway configuration. The program will reduce overall delays at the Airport by 79 percent, and bad weather delays by 95 percent. It will create 195,000 new jobs and $18 billion in additional economic activity each year. Please visit www.oharemodernization.org to learn more about the OMP.

The CDA continues to incorporate and expand sustainability initiatives for airport planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance, and concessions and tenants at O’Hare and Midway International Airports in accordance with the CDA Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM) Version 2.0, released in November 2010.
# # # #

Chicago Department of Aviation | City of Chicago| O'Hare Airport | Midway Airport:
http://www.flychicago.com/

Friday, September 23, 2011

In death, fired nurse aids rights of workers under the ADA - Sept 2011

Under court decree, firm that let her go must pay, institute training.


{photo: Anne Whitledge, who died last August from brain cancer, with her daughter, Mariah. Maxim Healthcare Services, the health care giant that fired her rather make accommodations for her disability, must send a letter of condolences to her survivors, along with a check for $160,000}

Anne Whitledge will never get her job back at Maxim Healthcare Services -- or another paycheck or a note of thanks for her service.

The St. Paul nurse died of brain cancer last year at 43.

But under a federal court settlement announced this week, the Maryland health care corporation that fired Whitledge in 2009 will send a letter of condolence to her survivors -- along with a check for $160,000.

The closely watched lawsuit that produced Wednesday's settlement marks an important test of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and is likely to change the way employers treat ailing employees, attorneys said Thursday.

"This decision demonstrates the [government's] commitment to aggressive enforcement of the ADA,'' said Doug Christensen, chair of the labor-employment group at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm in Minneapolis. "It shows employers the importance of engaging in an individualized, interactive process with employees who are potentially disabled."

Celeste Culberth, the attorney representing Whitledge's estate, said the case will "get the word out to employers that people who have cancer and other disabilities are capable of working. Regular folks can have confidence that the law protects them," she said.

A consent decree signed by U.S. District Judge Joan Erickson requires Maxim to post policies informing employees of their rights under federal law and develop new staff training. It also enjoins the company from retaliating against employees who assert their rights or from refusing to discuss reasonable accommodations with employees when they seek to return to work from medical leaves.

In court filings, Maxim said the firing was legally justified because Whitledge was unable to perform her job and because she presented a "direct threat" to the health and safety of herself or others. Maxim's attorneys declined to discuss details of the case or explain how Whitledge posed a threat.

The settlement also came as a relief to those close to Whitledge.

Larry Williams, the executor of Whitledge's estate and the guardian of her 11-year-old daughter, Mariah, spoke fondly of the woman "who always wanted to help people.'' He said the fight for the settlement "would have meant the world to Anne.''

Williams, now of Breezy Point, Minn., was a patrol partner of Whitledge when they worked as New Brighton police officers. After Whitledge retired due to a medical disability from a squad car accident about 12 years ago, she decided to enroll in nursing school because it was her nature to aid people in need, Williams said.

"Anne's attitude was all about giving and forgiving,'' said Williams, now retired. "She was a fighter, and she tried to live as normal a life as possible at the end.''

More cases

The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations so a disabled individual can continue working. In Minnesota, the state Human Rights Act offers similar protections.

In 2010, 978 cancer patients nationwide filed complaints of wrongful termination and other types of discrimination, up from 434 complaints in 2000, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

While other cancer patients have used the ADA to sue over alleged discrimination, many of those lawsuits failed because the courts didn't always treat cancer as a disability.

Congress responded to complaints in 2008 by revamping the ADA, changing the law to make it easier for people to prove they are disabled.

Whitledge's case is one of three discrimination cases involving cancer patients that have been brought by the EEOC since the ADA amendments were enacted. Disability advocates have watched the cases to see how the courts respond.

Eight-week leave

Friends say Whitledge wanted to keep working after undergoing treatment for brain cancer. But Maxim fired her in February 2009, according to court records. Eight months later, her husband died of a heart attack. Her orphaned 10-year-old daughter was left without any life insurance money because her parents' policies had been through Maxim.

After leaving the New Brighton police and training to be a nurse, Whitledge was hired in 2007 as a nursing director for Maxim, a national company with more than $1.3 billion in revenues and 35,000 employees, according to a recent Dun & Bradstreet report. The company, which has 360 offices in the United States, provides nurses and home health care services in Minnesota, and runs hundreds of flu shot clinics.

In December 2008, Whitledge took an eight-week medical leave, according to EEOC records. When she tried to return to her job in February 2009, she was told she needed a clearance note from her doctor. Her doctor provided several notes saying Whitledge could work full time and needed only occasional days off for treatment, EEOC rcords show.

"Subsequently, I tried several times to speak to [Maxim's] decisionmakers about when I would be able to return to work," Whitledge wrote in her complaint to the EEOC. "The decisionmakers would not take my calls, so I left messages."

# Source: StarTribune Article by: DAN BROWNING and PAUL McENROE
Staff writer Lora Pabst contributed to this report
September 22, 2011
http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/130354278.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue

"It's Our Story" video: Babs Johnson, "Wade's Amazing Example" - Answers from America's Disability Activists


YouTube Uploaded by ItsOurStoryProject on Jul 10, 2010

Babs Johnson of Denver, CO speaks about getting involved in the disability movement and participating in civil disobedience with ADAPT in efforts to make society more accessible and inclusive.

Babs got involved in the disability community through family members with disabilities; after participating in protests surrounding section 504 of the rehabilitation act, she became involved with ADAPT and is now a primary national organizer for the organization.

This is #44 out of more than 1,000 interviews that "It's Our Story" has collected in an effort to free the voices of the disability community. Visit us at www.itsourstory.org

This interview transcribed by Erin Karrasch

# For more "It's Our Story" visit: http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsOurStoryProject

Association for Individual Development artists inspire others with their works : Sept 22 2011

At 60, Jerry Hilligoss is busier than ever.

Hilligoss, a Yorkville resident, is quick to mention that he has been in the Special Olympics for 30 years. He’s done swimming, track and field, bowling, and used to do cross-country skiing. He refers to himself as an “Illinois boy.”

Another title for this enthusiastic man is: artist.

He describes parts of one painting he created: “A rainbow and trees and … ocean and on land and ocean birds … and rocks and what else? … Trees, blue sky and waves. Waves come up.”

This piece was based on a quote by C.S. Lewis: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”


{photo: John Daniels, one of seven artists who are clients of the Association for Individual Development, shows his painting that now hangs at the Westmont office of IlliniCare. | Submitted photo}

Hilligoss is one of the developmentally disabled individuals participating in the Association for Individual Development Blue Shirt Art Studio in Yorkville. This program allows these adults, ranging in age from 23 to 70, to use their artistic skills. They receive a 40 percent commission on sold work.

Hilligoss and six others were selected out of 40 studio clients at the facility to do a project for IlliniCare. Additional artists include Yorkville residents John Daniels, Robert Allen, Ken Carpenter and John Paradowski. Batavia residents Ray Tim Neal and Evelyn Sypien also are participating.

The AID artists helped add color to white walls on the fourth floor of IlliniCare’s new Westmont office.

IlliniCare is a program that offers health care services for aged, blind and disabled adults in local counties. Michael Kinne, president of IlliniCare, came up with the idea to involve AID Blue Shirt Art Studio artists.

“I’m a disability advocate, and I’m a parent advocate,” Kinne said. “I have a son with a disability. So I think about this a lot more than just occupationally or professionally.”

Each artwork has an inspirational quote near it. The artists’ job was to create their work based on the quote. Kinne has found himself gaining inspiration when stepping into the office, where 30 pieces hang on the walls.

“Every time I walk through the office, I stop and I pick up something different from each picture,” he said. “It’s either I think about the artist in a particularly different way or their situation, or I notice something slightly different about the art itself or I read the inspirational quote.”

Jan Peters, art director of AID Blue Shirt Studio, pointed out that despite disabilities, the clients can be great artists. By teaching art, she has learned a lesson, too.

“The most wonderful part about that is that you can never have a wrong answer in art,” she said. “And everybody can express themselves in different ways. Some of the clients like painting. Some like the clay or sculpture.”

Paradowski, 29, has found happiness while creating his featured work.

“I felt perfect,” Paradowski said, “Yes, and normal also.”

# For Association for Individual Development visit:
http://www.the-association.org/

# Source: The Beacon-News By Stefanie Frazier Sept 22, 2011
http://beaconnews.suntimes.com/news/7794877-418/aid-artists-inspire-others-with-works.html

Illinois Disabled Adults May Have Alternatives to Illinois Nursing Homes : Sept 2011

Most Illinois nursing home attorneys have closely followed the developments in a long-standing legal battle between state officials and disabled rights organizations. The main issue in the legal wrangling involve whether or not the state should be forced to offer alternatives to disabled residents who want to move out of these institutions. Public bodies subsidize most of the care these residents needs, and they usually only offer services for these individuals in traditional nursing homes. However, all of that may soon change.

The Chicago Tribune reported that a proposed settlement to the class-action lawsuit was recently filed submitted to the court on Monday on behalf of local disabled residents. According to the terms of the agreement state officials would offer subsidized apartments to thousands of local residents who are capable of functioning independently outside of the traditional nursing home.

The agreement needs to be approved by the court and a “fairness hearing” must be held which allows comments and objections by interested parties. Disability advocates are already heralding the settlement as an important step forward both for the low-income individuals involved as well as for the general efforts of improving local long-term care and eliminating Illinois nursing home neglect. One attorney working on the case explained how advocates belief that nursing home life fosters dependency which should be avoided if possible. Many adults currently forced to live in these homes will be much better served in the community.

Officials for the Governor’s office explained that they believe the settlement is good for the state, and will not come with any increased financial burdens. They report that other states which have offered subsidized dwellings have actually seen their tax burden for the service decrease. This is in part because federal Medicaid funds may be given to the state for offering the apartments and community housing to the former Illinois nursing home residents.

Talks between the two sides which led to this agreement began with news reports from 2009 that detailed shocking instances of Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect that often took the force of sexual assault, violence, and drug abuse. The revelations shocked many community members who began learning for the first time about the myriad of nursing homes residents in the area who lived every day in entirely unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Some facilities work hard to provide high-quality care to residents. Unfortunately, many residents live in for-profit facilities which are far too often mired by systematic mistreatment. Many local disabled residents at those homes are given little therapy or discharge planning.

Under the terms of the new proposal, these individuals will be evaluated by state-supervised officials to determine their eligibility to be moved out of the nursing homes and into less restrictive settings. The effort will be entirely voluntary, and no resident will be forced to leave who chooses not to. Those who do opt to move will be provided roughly $700 a month in rental assistance as well as up to $4,000 in start up funds to equip and furnish their apartments. They would also be eligible to receive various mental health services, life training skills, and case management assistance.

# Source: Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Blog: http://blog.levinperconti.com/2011/08/local_disabled_adults_may_have.html