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

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Barriers Latino Families Face On Path To Autism Diagnosis

Serious obstacles impede Latino families’ quest for autism diagnosis and treatment in the United States. Challenges include a lack of information about autism and a concern that consulting experts might bring them legal trouble1.
Article by HANNAH FURFARO, published by SPECTRUM | June 22, 2017

The findings may help explain why Latino children with autism are diagnosed later on average than non-Latino white children in the U.S.2,3.

“It’s pretty obvious now from national data that’s been collected for about 10 years that these disparities exist. It’s not a fluke, and they’re not going away,” says lead researcher Katharine Zuckerman, associate professor of general pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Zuckerman and her colleagues surveyed 352 parents of children with autism — 46 percent white and 54 percent Latino — in Portland, Denver and Los Angeles about their experiences getting an autism diagnosis for their child. All of the families had visited clinics in the Autism Treatment Network, an association of clinical sites supported by the nonprofit advocacy group Autism Speaks.

The survey revealed 19 barriers to care, 4 of which are specific to Latino families. The most common — reported by three-quarters of parents in the study — was the stress of the diagnostic process. Others include a lack of knowledge about autism and trouble navigating the medical system. On average, individual parents said they had run up against half of the barriers identified.

The next step is to find ways for families to overcome these barriers, says Sandra Magaña, professor of disability and human development at University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the study. “The field needs to really recognize there are a number of underserved communities, Latinos being one of them,” she says. “We can’t just ignore these populations.”
Immigrant issues:

Several hurdles are more prevalent among Latino parents than white ones, particularly among Latinos who speak little or no English. These parents had almost four times the odds of reporting a limited knowledge about autism as white parents.

About 16 percent of these parents said they were afraid to seek medical help because of legal issues — which could include fear of revealing their immigration status, Zuckerman says. The legal concerns are a more common concern than lack of access to an interpreter, which clinicians have long assumed to be a major barrier to care. The results appeared in the May issue of Pediatrics.

The study illustrates the importance of directly asking parents about the troubles they face, instead of simply ignoring or making assumptions about them, Zuckerman says.

“There’s a long legacy of research with minority communities that has been unfair to them,” Zuckerman says. “We really have a responsibility to do research that communities support and will also truly benefit from.”

Breaking down these barriers could help lower the average age of diagnosis, says Zuckerman. “The more we wait around, it’s just more kids who are not being identified until they’re really old, or not being identified at all,” she says.

A few research groups have made headway on this front. For example, Bruno Anthony and his colleagues at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., have found that asking Latino parents screening questions orally instead of in writing helps flag more children for autism.

The next step, Anthony says, is to test treatments for autism that account for cultural differences.

Zuckerman K.E. et al. Pediatrics 139, e20163010 (2017) PubMed
Valicenti-McDermott M. et al. J. Pediatr. 161, 554-556 (2012) PubMed
Magaña S. et al. Intellect. Dev. Disabil. 51, 141-153 (2013) PubMed

Court Rules Retailer's Websites Must Comply with Americans with Disabilities Act

A court decision in Florida could have major consequences for retailers everywhere, forcing them to equip their websites with technology that makes them accessible to disabled individuals.

article by Tim Feran for The Columbus Dispatch | June 22, 2017                                                           
Last week, a federal judge in Florida found that the website of Winn-Dixie — the second largest supermarket chain in the Southeast — violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because it was inaccessible to visually impaired individuals.

The decision is significant because retailers might be required to equip their websites with technology that is compatible with ADA standards, including refreshable Braille displays or devices that read website content aloud, said attorney Mark Knueve, a partner with Columbus-based Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.

Knueve was not involved in the case but has been tracking it because he represents employers in complex employment litigation matters.

Making the situation even more complicated and difficult for retailers is the fact that “the ADA itself does not actually address whether or not websites would be covered by access requirements,” Knueve said.

During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice issued several statements indicating that the ADA did apply to websites, and said it would issue regulations to that effect. But the department never got around to doing so.

“So, as of right now, there are no formal regulations or law on this,” Knueve said. “That leaves it for the courts.”

The problem comes at a difficult time for retailers who, faced with declining sales in stores, have spent years pouring money into their digital operations to better serve customers as well as stave off competition from such online retailers as Amazon.

Several local retailers would not comment on the issue. But at least one retailer is confident that it has the problem licked.

An L Brands spokeswoman said the Columbus-based retailer’s websites, including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, are all ADA compliant.

Even so, the issue has come up more and more frequently for clients of digital-marketing agency Mindstream Interactive, said Scott Curtis, associate vice president of technology at the Columbus-based agency.

“I don’t know that it’s hit a point where everyone’s in a panic mode, but everyone has it in mind,” Curtis said. “We do have guidelines but it’s highly complex. How far do you go? Some of our clients are very into accessibility and they want to go full bore and do everything. But some websites are built in a certain way so that it doesn’t really translate into the accessible world.”

Those retailers who aren’t already compliant with ADA rules face several problems.

One is that because the law is unclear, “it gives rise to litigation because employers don’t know what standard to comply with,” Knueve said. “No matter what you do, someone will come along and say, ‘Oh, that isn’t the standard.’”

The other problem is that revamping the websites can be rather costly, a problem, in particular, for smaller companies that usually have websites built 10 years ago.

“But we are talking about it more and more,” Curtis said. “No company wants a data breach or accessibility problems that wind up in the headlines.”

Unless the Department of Justice issues a ruling, Congress passes a law or Winn-Dixie gets the judge’s decision overturned, the Florida court case is the precedent to which other retailers should pay attention — or they could find themselves in court, Knueve said.

“There are a number of law firms that focus on ADA accessibility, but you haven’t seen too many of those firms focusing on this website issue,” he said. “This decision may change that.”

No Longer Invisible, Dealing With Disabilities Around The World

Andres Millan spent two years traveling around Bogotá, Colombia, and its environs, photographing people whose mental health issues or physical limitations kept them at home. Within cramped apartments where living rooms doubled as craft workshops and inside cinder block houses with dirt floors, he spent hours talking to these people about art and healing. To many in bustling urban centers, they were invisible, out of sight and out of luck.

article by David Gonzalez for The New York Times | June 21, 2017                                                       
wonderful photos by Andres Millan                                                                                                                          
But to Mr. Millan, they were kindred spirits he could not ignore. He knew the sacrifices made by caretakers who, in the absence of any real government programs, set aside their own careers to take on the full-time job of looking after children, brothers — even strangers — confronting serious conditions. He had once been among them.

“When I was 7, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia,” Mr. Millan said. “I still remember a lot of the experiences I had, like when I got lost in a mall because I was following imaginary voices. I think that made me a lot more open, and that allowed people to tell me their stories. I could understand them better.”

Those stories — focused on overcoming hardship, not being mired in it — are at the heart of “Invisibles,” a project he undertook after a chance meeting with Antonio Castañeda, a sculptor and caretaker who had established a foundation to help people with disabilities through the arts. The project consists not just of images, which combine several frames to make panoramas that show caretakers along with their charges, but also interviews and a documentary.

photo: Antonio Castañeda, left, is a visual artist, musician and community worker who has been working for more than two decades to use the arts as a therapy tool for people with psychosocial disabilities. He invited Robinson, a man he befriended who lives with schizophrenia, to move in with him.Credit Andres Millan

His initial encounter with Mr. Castañeda was at an art program he was attending as part of his studies. He learned that the sculptor had taken in Robinson, a homeless man he had befriended on the streets. Robinson had been a police officer, he said, who was schizophrenic and still dealing with the trauma of a gunfight on the job.

“They threw him off the police force,” Mr. Millan said. “He was not from Bogotá and had no family to help him, so he lived on the streets. Antonio met him one day and found him to be intelligent and friendly. He decided to help him, at first with food, and then inviting him to move in.”

That encounter prompted him to join with Mr. Castañeda to seek out others for whom art may provide a way back to more fulfilling lives. (His own experiences with schizophrenia, he said, took a turn for the better when he was healed, he said, by a popular religious devotion.) He also wanted to stress stories where people — helped by their caretakers — found new opportunities to create, or just even get around. He began to seek out people, visiting a half dozen homes daily in the project’s early months.

He discovered that many people could work from home, sewing or making handicrafts, even if there were no proper government-financed centers or schools. That led him and Mr. Castañeda — helped by other photographers, business owners, volunteers and local government officials — to start workshops in art, a small business they could run at home as well as set up at artisan fairs to sell their creations.

“We wanted to do something with the arts, but that had a social aspect to it,” Mr. Millan said. “We did not want to be like vampires who take a picture or a story and leave. We wanted to do something for the people, which is more valuable.”

Among the people he profiled were Isaias, a blind man who got up every morning to fill his old car’s radiator with water; Camila, a young girl who uses a wheelchair and lives with her grandmother, who sews at home in order to keep an eye on the girl; and then there was Emis, a paralyzed woman who runs a group for people who paint using their feet or mouths. She wanted to be shown naked, on a bed, next to her boyfriend.

“When we spoke with her, she said it was amazing how there was a taboo about sexuality among the handicapped,” he said. “That photo was her chance to talk about sexuality.”

Mr. Millan helped organize exhibits that featured their works, too.

“Usually art exhibits are for a limited audience,” he explained. “But what was beautiful about this was we were able to bring the people that we worked with in our workshops. So the exhibition attracted a lot of handicapped people who saw the work and could identify with it.”

There was one limitation Mr. Millan faced that took some improvisation. Many of the homes he visited were small, with narrow passages or cramped rooms. Worse, he had only a wide-angle lens and a single flash unit, which presented a challenge for making panoramas that were evenly lighted. His solution was to make two or more images, each carefully lit and composed, then stitch them together during post-processing.

The project has given him a measure of satisfaction, being able to showcase stories that get lost in the shuffle.

“We let them talk about their concerns, even if to others they are invisible,” he said. “They are around us every day, but no one hears those experiences. We wanted to tell those stories. The good stories.”

For the FULL slideshow of  the 12 Andres Millan  photos: https://nyti.ms/2tW5sqU

World's First Fully Accessible Waterpark for People With Disabilities

"Individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments, and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other."
article by Tess Koman for COSMOPOLITAN | Jun 20, 2017

When Morgan’s Inspiration Island (within Morgan’s Wonderland theme park) in San Antonio, Texas, opened last week, it became the first-ever fully accessible water park ABC News reports. Water parks are notoriously difficult for people with disabilities to navigate, but all of Morgan’s Inspiration Island’s attractions are built so everyone, regardless of their ability or age, can participate.

Morgan’s Wonderland was built in 2010 on the same premise — the theme park also features fully accessible attractions and was designed by Gordon Hartman and his 23-year-old daughter Morgan, who lives with disability. At both parks, guests who use them have free access to different types of wheelchairs so they don't have to use their own, and guests with disabilities are welcome to the park for free, as well, Mashable reports.

The park also provides traceable wristbands for children with disabilities who tend to wander from their parents. All the water in the park is able to change temperature quickly to accommodate those with sensitivity to cold and certain areas of the park are dedicated quiet spaces for those who are overwhelmed by crowds.

"Our goal is to provide a great guest experience in an inclusive, safe, comfortable, not-overly-crowded environment," Hartman told the site. "Morgan's Inspiration Island will concentrate on inclusion, and inspire guests to do things previously thought not to be in their range of capabilities.”

He continued: "Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs, guests with hearing and visual impairments, and even guests on ventilators, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater appreciation of one another."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Webinar July 13th - "ADA National Network Learning Session: Emergency Planning for Institutional Facilities"

The International Building Code and International Fire Code have unique emergency criteria for assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and jails. In these types of facilities there may be legitimate reasons where the typical fire emergency plan to send everyone out using the stairways may not be the best choice considering both the abilities and safety of the residents. This presentation will discuss options for planning, training of staff, practice drills, notification, and evacuation. Criteria for additional protection to be provided by the building construction will also be reviewed.

Webinars begin at 2.30pm ET/1.30pm CT/12.30 pm MT/11.30am PT/9.30am Hawaii.
Registration: Free on-line at http://www.adapresentations.org/registration.php
Registration closes at midnightJuly 12th, 2017.

Learning objectives:
  • Understand why assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and jails may not be able to use the standard evacuation systems.
  • Identify what plans need to be developed and practiced in these facilities.
  • Understand what alternatives there are for notification other than standard audible alarms.
  • Identify what building elements are required for compartmentation and smoke protection.
Kimberly Paarlberg is a Senior Staff Architect in Technical Services with the International Code Council (ICC). Her experience with ICC includes work in the plan review and code development departments with responsibilities for code development, plan reviews, providing code interpretations, instructing technical seminars and authoring and reviewing instruction materials, code commentary and publication articles. Kimberly serves as code development secretary for the IBC Means of Egress/Accessibility and ICC Administration committees. She is ICC representative for development of the referenced technical standard, ICC/ANSI A117.1 "Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities." Kimberly is the staff for the ICC Adhoc Health Care Committee.
Before joining ICC, Kimberly worked as a structural engineer and architect. Kim is a licensed architect in Illinois and holds an Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner certification.

For more information and resources from the "ADA National Network", visit: https://adata.org/


Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director of the "Coalition on Human Needs", issued the following statement Thursday, June 22, 2017 in response to the Senate GOP’s health care bill, we would like to share.

The Senate’s long-awaited health care repeal bill has surfaced.  It is a shameful abandonment of millions of people who need health coverage.  After years of promising to lower insurance costs, the bill will raise them by thousands of dollars for people in the insurance marketplaces.  People will lose protections that ensure a decent package of benefits, and those with pre-existing conditions will no longer be able to afford coverage.  Medicaid would be gutted.  The expansion funding will end by the beginning of 2024, leaving millions of people with no coverage.  The basic Medicaid program is slashed and capped more stringently than in the House bill. 
“The destruction of Medicaid is one of the most shameful aspects of this legislation.  Medicaid is a guarantor of health and economic security in our nation.  Nearly one-half of our babies are born with maternity coverage through Medicaid; Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program cover 45 percent of the children younger than 6.  More than one in five people in rural areas rely on Medicaid coverage (in Maine, it’s nearly one in four; in West Virginia, one in three).  Twenty-five million women receive health care through Medicaid, as do 1.75 million veterans.  About 60 percent of nursing home residents are covered through Medicaid. 
“The federal government on average provides 63 percent of Medicaid funding (2016 data).  That’s a very good deal for states.  It is an even better deal in poorer states.  In Nevada, the federal government pays 76.5 percent; in Ohio, 69.5 percent; in West Virginia, 77.7 percent.  The Senate bill will cut federal Medicaid funding even more than the House bill.  Both create restrictive caps, but the Senate would make its caps tighter starting in 2025. It’s too soon to know exactly how much Medicaid funding will be slashed, but the House bill cut $839 billion over 10 years, so it is likely that the Senate bill cuts even more.  Senators who vote for this are turning their backs on their own people.  Instead of providing a federal guarantee of health care for those most in need, this bill will send states headlong into a future with less and less federal sharing of the health care burden.  In 2016, Louisiana received nearly $5.5 billion in federal Medicaid funds; Arizona received nearly $8.4 billion.  Senators who vote for this abandonment of the federal role will be complicit in denying care to millions of their own constituents. 
“And for what?  The shameful truth is that this bill, like the House version, will cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the wealthiest among us and for the medical and insurance industries.  It is hard to imagine a bill with worse priorities, that takes away so much from the most vulnerable among us to give so much to the most comfortable. 
“This is not what Americans want.  Between 70 – 85 percent in a recent poll commissioned by Lutheran Services in America believed people with disabilities, children, and seniors in nursing homes should be able to keep Medicaid benefits.  Even among those who identify as conservative, 62 percent said they did not believe cutting Medicaid funding should be a top priority for Congress this year. 
“Senators, please:  this is a bill that harms your own people, and weakens your own state.  Please reject it.”
# # #
For more information and resources from the "Coalition on Human Needs", visit:                                https://www.chn.org/

TrumpCare Protesters, Some With Disabilities, Forcibly Removed From Sen Mitch McConnell’s Office

Capitol Police prepare to remove a man from a sit-in of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office, as he and others protest proposed caps to Medicaid Thursday, June 22, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Senate Republicans' health care bill (all times local): June 22, 2017 - 1:30 p.m.
U.S. Capitol Police are arresting dozens of people who are protesting cuts to Medicaid in the Senate Republicans' health care bill.
The protesters have filled a hallway in one of the Senate office buildings, outside the office of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Some of the protesters are being escorted individually. Others are much more reluctant to leave and it's taking four or five officers to carry them out.
The protesters are yelling "no cuts to Medicaid" as they are being led away.
One protester says he's with the disability rights group ADAPT. Phillip Corona says he traveled from Wisconsin to make his voice heard. Corona says Medicaid helps his son Anthony get out of bed every morning. Phillip Corona fears that changes to the program "would possibly mean putting him in a nursing home."
Alison Barkoff — director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation — helped organize the protest. She says the protesters rely on Medicaid to help them live and she says the health bill amounts to "tax cuts for the wealthy on the backs of people with disabilities."
# # #
Police Haul Off Protesters, Some With Disabilities, From Mitch McConnell’s Office

Capitol Police forcibly removed protesters gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday, with at least one photo showing drops of blood on the hallway floor.

The crowd was protesting the health care bill that Senate Republicans had written in secret at McConnell’s direction. Judging by photos and video from reporters, the senator’s staffers didn’t appreciate their presence.

Police reportedly arrested more than 20 protesters, many of whom were in wheelchairs and on respirators

A draft of the health care bill, released this morning, shows Republicans intend to dramatically cut back on Medicaid and other safety nets, then funnel that money to the richest Americans.

The information posted is a portion of an article by  Ryan Grenoble for HUFFPOST , for the FULL article with many photos; CLICK HERE

Disability Advocates ADAPT Protest Senate Leader Over Cuts to Medicaid for Elderly and Disabled Americans

The following is a June 22, 2017 press release from our colleagues with ADAPT.
# # #
Right now, members of the national disability rights organization ADAPT are staging a die-in at Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell's office. The activists are protesting McConnell's Senate healthcare bill, demanding he bring an end to the attacks on disabled people's freedom we expect to see.

The Medicaid caps proposed in this bill and the resulting cuts can only lead to two outcomes for the disability community: people being forced into nursing facilities and other institutions, and people dying because they cannot get the services they need. The fact that this terrible bill is being released on the 18th anniversary of the Olmstead decision is an even further affront to the disability community!

Millions of disabled Americans will be harmed if this terrible law is enacted. McConnell seems intent on pushing the legislation through regardless of the cost to our community, so we need your help to fight it! We have fought too hard for our freedom to do nothing as the Majority leader and his cronies plot to take it away from us.

Please join the fight by doing the following:

* Call the press and urge them to cover this story! Tell them about the ADAPT action, but more importantly tell them why Medicaid and healthcare are so important to you. Get them to report on all of the ways this bill will restrict our freedom and limit our lives.

* ADAPT has put out a press release: CLICK HERE

Please feel free to use this as a template for a press release on behalf of your CIL or organization!

* Call Senator McConnell's office and demand an end to any legislation that caps or cuts Medicaid! The phone number for his DC office is: (202) 224-2541 Fax: (202) 224-2499

* Call your Senators and demand they not support any legislation that caps or cuts Medicaid! You can get a hold of them through the Capitol Switchboard here: (202) 224-3121

# # #
ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.

U.S. Senate Republicans Releases 'TrumpCare' Health Bill

June 22, 2017 - U.S. Senate Republicans have released a 142-page draft of their bill to eliminate much of the Obama health care law.

The measure would cut and revamp Medicaid, the health care program for lower-income and people with disabilities.

It would repeal tax increases Obama's law imposed on higher-income people and medical industry companies to pay for expanded coverage. And it would end the tax penalty Obama's statute imposes on people who don't buy insurance — in effect, ending the so-called individual mandate.

It faces uniform Democratic opposition over the next weeks. And at least a half-dozen Republicans — both conservatives and moderates — have complained about it.

For all of us that have concerns over TrumpCare, we will need to contact our U,S. Senators on both sides of the aisle. Please call, email, sign petitions, work with organization, and exercise the rights we have in the United States to oppose the TrumpCare devastating effects before us.

For the Full Bill as posted by U.S. Senate Budget Committee: https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SENATEHEALTHCARE.pdf

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Genesis Healthcare Inc. Agrees to Pay Feds $53.6 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations

Genesis Healthcare Inc. Agrees to Pay Federal Government $53.6 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Relating to the Provision of Medically Unnecessary Rehabilitation Therapy and Hospice Services

June 16, 2017 - The Justice Department announced today that Genesis Healthcare Inc. (Genesis) will pay the federal government $53,639,288.04, including interest, to settle six federal lawsuits and investigations alleging that companies and facilities acquired by Genesis violated the False Claims Act by causing the submission of false claims to government health care programs for medically unnecessary therapy and hospice services, and grossly substandard nursing care. Genesis, headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, owns and operates through its subsidiaries skilled nursing facilities, assisted/senior living facilities, and a rehabilitation therapy business
“We will continue to hold health care providers accountable if they bill for unnecessary or substandard services or treatment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our unwavering commitment to protect federal health care programs against unscrupulous providers.”
This settlement resolves four sets of allegations. First, the settlement resolves allegations that from April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2013, Skilled Healthcare Group Inc. (SKG) and its subsidiaries, Skilled Healthcare LLC (Skilled LLC) and Creekside Hospice II LLC, knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted false claims to Medicare for services performed at the Creekside Hospice facility in Las Vegas, Nevada by: (1) billing for hospice services for patients who were not terminally ill and so were not eligible for the Medicare hospice benefit and (2) billing inappropriately for certain physician evaluation management services.

Second, this settlement resolves allegations that from Jan. 1, 2005 through Dec. 31, 2013, SKG and its subsidiaries, Skilled LLC and Hallmark Rehabilitation GP LLC, knowingly submitted or caused to be submitted false claims to Medicare, TRICARE, and Medicaid at certain facilities by providing therapy to certain patients longer than medically necessary, and/or billing for more therapy minutes than the patients actually received. The settlement also resolves allegations that those companies fraudulently assigned patients a higher Resource Utilization Group (RUG) level than necessary. Medicare reimburses skilled nursing facilities based on a patient’s RUG level, which is supposed to be determined by the amount of skilled therapy required by the patient.

Third, this settlement resolves allegations that from Jan. 1, 2008, through Sept. 27, 2013, Sun Healthcare Group Inc., SunDance Rehabilitation Agency Inc., and SunDance Rehabilitation Corp. knowingly submitted or caused the submission of false claims to Medicare Part B by billing for outpatient therapy services provided in the State of Georgia that were (1) not medically necessary or (2) unskilled in nature.

Finally, this settlement resolves allegations that between Sept. 1, 2003 and Jan. 3, 2010, Skilled LLC submitted false claims to the Medicare and Medi-Cal programs at certain of its nursing homes for services that were grossly substandard and/or worthless and therefore ineligible for payment. More specifically, the settlement resolves allegations that Skilled LLC violated certain essential requirements that nursing homes are required to meet to participate in and receive reimbursements from government healthcare programs and failed to provide sufficient nurse staffing to meet residents’ needs.

SKG and its subsidiaries were acquired by Genesis after the conduct at issue in this settlement. Sun Healthcare Group Inc., SunDance Rehabilitation Agency Inc. and SunDance Rehabilitation Corp. were acquired by Genesis in December 2012.

“Safeguarding federal health care programs and patients is a priority,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre for the District of Nevada. “Today’s settlement is an example of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to holding medical providers accountable for fraudulent billing of medically unnecessary treatments and services. We are committed to protecting federal health care programs, including Medicare, TRICARE, and Medicaid, which are funded by taxpayer dollars.”

“We are committed to protecting the federal health care programs and the patients who are enrolled in them,” said U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch for the Northern District of California. “We will continue to vigorously pursue companies and individuals who provide care that is grossly deficient or unnecessary.”

“Health care providers that falsify claims for unauthorized or unnecessary services steal precious taxpayer dollars, and we will aggressively seek to recover those funds for the program that needs them,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn for the Northern District of Georgia.

“It’s disturbing when health care companies bill Medicare and Medicaid to care for vulnerable patients, but provide grossly substandard care and medically unnecessary services just to boost company profits,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “We will continue to crack down on medical providers who betray the public’s trust and the needs of vulnerable patients through fraudulent billing and irresponsible practices.”

“At a time when the cost of healthcare weighs heavy on many taxpayers, it is imperative that people who illegally bill our healthcare system are held accountable and forced to pay restitution,” said FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge David J. LeValley. “This case is an example of how committed the FBI and its partners are to keeping healthcare providers from abusing the system.”

The settlement, which was based on the company’s ability to pay, resolves allegations originally brought in lawsuits filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by Joanne Cretney-Tsosie, Jennifer Deaton, Kimberley Green, Camaren Hampton, Teresa McAree, Terri West, and Brian Wilson, former employees of companies acquired by Genesis. The act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government for false claims for government funds and to receive a share of any recovery. The government may intervene and file its own complaint in such a lawsuit. The whistleblowers will receive a combined $9.67 million as their share of the recovery in this case.

This matter was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch; the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern District of California, the Northern District of Georgia, the Western District of Missouri, and the District of Nevada and HHS-OIG.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

The cases are docketed as United States, ex rel. Cretney-Tsosie v. Creekside Hospice II, LLC, Case No. 2:13-cv-167-HDM (D. Nev.); United States ex rel. McAree v. SunDance Rehabilitation Corp., Case No. 1:12-CV-4244 (N.D. Ga.); United States, ex rel. West v. Skilled Healthcare Group Inc., et. al., Case No. 11-02658-ED (N.D. Cal.); United States ex rel. Deaton v. Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. et al., Case No. 4:14-cv-00219 (W.D. Mo.); and United States ex rel. Wilson v. Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. et al., Case No. 14-cv-860 (W.D. Mo.).

source: Department of Justice press release

Age Discrimination and Outdated Views Of Older Workers Persist Still in 2017, Experts Tell EEOC Commission

In 50th Anniversary of ADEA, Impact of Age Discrimination Felt Across Nation's Economy
WASHINGTON - June 14, 2017 - Persistent age discrimination and stereotypes about older workers continue to channel older workers out of the workforce, limiting further economic growth, experts told the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at a public meeting today entitled "The ADEA @ 50 - More Relevant Than Ever," held at agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
"With so many more people working and living longer, we can't afford to allow age discrimination to waste the knowledge, skills, and talent of older workers," said Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic. "Outdated assumptions about age and work deprive people of economic opportunity and stifle job growth and productivity. My hope is that 50 years after the enactment of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), we can work together to fulfill the promise of this important civil rights law to ensure opportunities are based on ability, not age."
Nearly two-thirds of workers age 55-64 report their age as a barrier to getting a job, as reported by a 2017 AARP survey. A comprehensive study in 2015 using resumes for workers at various ages found significant discrimination in hiring for female applicants and the oldest applicants, according to a co-author of the research, Patrick Button, Assistant Professor of Economics at Tulane University and a researcher with the National Bureau of Economic Research Disability Research Center (NBER).
Laurie McCann, a senior attorney for AARP Foundation Litigation, cited hiring discrimination and mandatory retirement as persistent problems that older workers face across industries. She called on the EEOC to strengthen ADEA protections and enforcement. "The ADEA should not be treated as a second-class civil rights statute. On this 50th Anniversary of the ADEA, AARP urges the EEOC to take bolder action to ensure older workers are treated fairly at work…" McCann told the Commission.
A combination of societal tradition and flawed business practices "that channel older people out of the work force, especially skilled workers, is damaging the economic health of our country," John Challenger of the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., told the Commission, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Challenger noted that if more older workers stayed in the workforce, it would significantly reduce the skilled worker shortage in the U.S.
Research refutes assumptions that older workers are less productive, technophobic or inflexible, explained Sara Czaja, director of the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE). Czaja discussed practical ways employers could do a better job of integrating older workers into the workforce by recognizing their value and by matching their skills and abilities with work environments.
"Unfortunately, numerous negative stereotypes about older workers still exist that often prevent or have a negative impact on employment opportunities for older people. These stereotypes can also prevent organizations from realizing the wealth of positive assets, such as wisdom, experience, and reliability that older workers can bring to the table," said Czaja.
Experts anticipate that the older worker population will continue to grow, said Jacqueline James of The Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. James told the Commission that "employers have been slow to innovate," as it relates to addressing older workers' preferences in recruitment and hiring, retention, and preventing age bias. The Center worked with the AARP to develop a benchmarking tool to help employers manage the current multigenerational workforce.
The Commission will hold open the June 14, 2017 Commission meeting record for 15 days, and invites audience members, as well as other members of the public, to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at the meeting. Public comments may be mailed to Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507, or emailed to: Commissionmeetingcomments@eeoc.gov.
The comments provided will be made available to members of the Commission and to Commission staff working on the matters discussed at the meeting. In addition, comments may be published on EEOC's public website, or disclosed in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and in the Commission's library. Providing comments in response to this solicitation equals consent to their use and consideration by the Commission and to their public availability. Accordingly, do not include any information in submitted comments that you would not want made public, like home address, telephone number, etc. Also note that when comments are submitted by e-mail, the sender's e-mail address automatically appears on the message. 
EEOC has posted biographies and statements of all panelists, and will post a video of the meeting within a few days, and a full transcript within a few weeks. These can all be found at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/index.cfm.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
source: EEOC press release

City of Chicago's New Accessibility Regulations for Businesses go into effect July 1, 2017

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance requires that Chicago businesses ensure that their facilities, products and services are available to individuals with disabilities. On July 1, 2017, new disability rights regulations passed by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations go into effect. These regulations specify what Chicago businesses must do in order to make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities.

This compliance requirement is for existing as well as new businesses and no business is "grandfathered." Non-compliance is punishable by up to $1,000 per incident paid to the City of Chicago, with damages and attorney fees paid to the complaining party. Investigation of accused violators will be prompted by filing a complaint with the City of Chicago.

Two Previous attempts to implement were on Jan 1, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2017.

Starting in July 1,  2017: 
Private businesses must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, when readily achievable. The regulations provide varying standards, both structural and practical, depending on what is required, including: 
• The construction and alteration of facilities.
• The removal of architectural barriers that interfere with accessibility in existing facilities.
• The removal of criteria that screen out individuals with a disability.
• The revision of policies necessary to provide full and equal enjoyment.
• The provision of auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication. 
The new regulations set forth very specific requirements for private businesses covered by the Ordinance. These requirements are nearly identical to those found in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal disability rights law that applies to private business.
Examples of compliance situations
  • Customers with disabilities must be able to maneuver within your business safely and efficiently.
  • Exterior entrances must provide for a customer in a wheelchair to enter where a step or steps are present with a lift or ramp or provide an alternative entry.
  • If restrooms are provided, the must be accessible to all customers with disabilities, including those using a wheelchair or those with a visual impairment.
  • Restaurant and bar menus should be available in large print or braille. Where unavailable, staff should be prepared to read the menu aloud.
  • Restaurants and bars cannot deny entry or service to customers with service animals.
  • Cashier and food-ordering counters must be installed at a height that will ensure adequate service to customers in wheelchairs 
The new regulations clearly specify requirements for private businesses covered by the ordinance are nearly identical to those found in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to CCHR. They go on to list  structural accessibility as well as policies, practices and procedures. 
  • The regulations provide varying standards, both structural and practical, depending on what is required, including:  
  • The construction and alteration of facilities.
  • The removal of architectural barriers that interfere with accessibility in existing facilities.
  • The removal of criteria that screen out individuals with a disability.
  • The revision of policies necessary to provide full and equal enjoyment
  • The provision of auxiliary aids and services necessary for effective communication. 
Structural Accessibility Under the New Regulations
  • New Construction
    • Facilities must be built in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Chicago Building Code, unless a condition of the terrain makes it impossible to comply.
  • Alterations to Existing Facilities
    • Any physical changes to a facility (build-outs, renovations) must be done so that the altered elements are built in accordance with the accessibility requirements of the Chicago Building Code.
    • When the primary function area of an establishment is altered (e.g. the dining room of a restaurant), improvements in access to other parts of the facility may be required.
  • Existing Facilities
    • Any structural barriers preventing access to people with disabilities must be removed where such removal is readily achievable, meaning easily completed without much difficulty or expense (based on the size and resources of the business).
    • If removing a barrier is not readily achievable, the business may need to provide alternative means of providing access to their goods and services (e.g. curbside service and home delivery).
    • Businesses are under a continuing obligation to remove barriers to access over time. 
Accessibility of Policies, Practices, & Procedures
  • Intentional Discrimination
    • A business may not deny service to people based on their disabilities.
    • A business may not provide to people with disabilities  unequal access to goods and services or access to lesser quality goods or services.
  • Eligibility Criteria
    • A business may not impose rules that exclude people with disabilities, unless those rules are necessary to provide goods and services, or are related to a legitimate safety requirement.
    • Example:  A store requires customers using a credit card to produce a driver’s license, thereby excluding people whose disabilities prohibit them from driving (e.g. people who are blind).
  • Modifications to Policies, Practices, and Procedures
    • A business must reasonably modify its procedures when necessary to afford goods or services to individuals with disabilities, unless such a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of the business.
  • Ensuring Effective Communication
    • A business must ensure that it communicates in the most effective manner with customers who have visual, hearing, or speech impairments, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the business or create significant difficulty or expense.
    • The most effective auxiliary aid or service to facilitate communication will depend on the context of the business transaction and the disability of the customer.
    • Example: A written note might be enough to communicate with a person who is deaf at a donut shop but the same person might require a sign language interpreter when visiting a doctor’s office.  
*This information is meant solely for informational purposes and is not inclusive of all the new regulation provisions. It is not meant as a form of legal advice.
For more information on the City of Chicago new regulations, click on the link below:
Disability Regulations - Effective 07/01/2017
or contact:
City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations
Phone: 312.744.4111740 North Sedgwick Street
Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60654

14th Annual Chicago Disability Pride Parade is July 22, 2017

The 14th Annual Disability Pride Parade marches through downtown Chicago on July 22, 2017. The parade steps off at Plymouth Court at Van Buren Street at 11 a.m. Individuals of all abilities will march north on Dearborn Street to Daley Plaza between Dearborn and Clark and Washington and Randolph Streets. Their mission: Change the way people think about and define disability and to end the internalized shame among people living with disabilities.

From noon until 3 p.m., Daley Plaza will host a resource center for people with disabilities to find organizations and services that can impact their lives and maximize their independence. A proclamation from Mayor Rahm Emanuel honoring the Disability Pride Parade will help to round out the day's festivities.

Parade steps off promptly at 11 a.m. Post-parade program at Daley Plaza begins at 12:30 PM.
Parade and post parade celebration for person with disabilities their family and friends

The overall mission of the Disability Pride Parade is:

  • To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
  • To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
  • To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.
YouTube published by criticalends on May 7, 2010                                                                                                                        The film weaves 'on the street' interviews with verite footage of the 6th Annual Disability Pride Parade in 2009.

For more information, visit  www.disabilityprideparade.com

July 22, 2017, 11am-1pm
Parade Route:
State St. from Van Buren to Lake St., Lake St. to Dearborn to Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois.
As more information becomes available, post will be updated.

Abilities Expo Chicago is June 23rd to the June 25th, 2017 in Schaumburg, Illinois

Abilities Expo Chicago is a 3 day event being held from June 23rd to the June 25th, 2017 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.

YouTube published by Abilities Expo

The Chicago Abilities Expo will be 3 days of eye opening, independence-enhancing education and fun! Look for the latest products and services for the disability community. Dance your heart out with Chelsie Hill and the famous Walk and Roll Dance team. Buckle down for hard-hitting workshops on issues that matter, then try your hand at tennis or quad rugby.

The kids will love it too! When they are not getting their face painted, they can be vanquishing the bad guys in the adaptive gaming pavilion, petting the mini therapy horses or painting their own masterpieces to take home.

Icing on the cake is the brand new Abilities Meet Up Zone. Right there on the show floor, it will be a great place to for attendees to kick back and engage with experts or with others who are facing similar challenges.

Admission is free so pre-register online today! http://www.abilities.com/chicago/vreg...

The Abilities Expo is one of leading events for people with disabilities, held each year in numerous cities around the country. The convention "opens your eyes to new technologies, new possibilities, new solutions and new opportunities to change your life."

Each conference features a myriad of vendors, exhibitors, activities, workshops and speakers, which ensures that everyone - regardless of their abilities and disabilities, will find value in attending for one, two or all three days.

For more information visit the Abilities Expo Chicago website: http://www.abilities.com/chicago/

Renaissance Hotel at Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel - 1551 Thoreau Drive
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone Number:(310) 450-8831

2017's Warrior Games will be held June 30 – July 8 in Chicago

The Warrior Games exist to provide an opportunity for athletes to grow physically, mentally and spiritually from the sportsmanship and camaraderie gained by representing their respective service teams in a friendly and spirited competition. It is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their enduring warrior spirit in the presence of their families and a grateful nation.
The Department of Defense Warrior Games will be held June 30 to July 8, 2017. About 250 seriously wounded, ill and injured service men and women will compete


Click here for more on the schedule of events, including how to purchase tickets for the July 1 and July 7 contests (the rest are free to the public). For videos and profiles of the participants, visit the official Warrior Games Facebook page.
Also visit the Warriors Games website.
# repost from 5/17/2017