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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

City of Chicago Malcolm X College teacher told student to drop class because he is Blind, Federal Lawsuit claims

City of Chicago Malcolm X College
article from the Chicago Sun-Times, by Jon Seidel | April 30 2015
A teacher at Malcolm X College asked a student to drop out of an algebra class because he is blind, according to a federal lawsuit the student filed Thursday.
Charles Mapp is suing City Colleges of Chicago District No. 508 and the teacher, Richard Williams. Mapp is a blind Chicagoan who first enrolled at City Colleges last fall and took classes in reading skills and English composition, according to the complaint. He said he got an “A” and a “B,” respectively.
Mapp’s complaint also said he had help from a classroom assistant provided by City Colleges’ Disability Access Center.
But Mapp enrolled in January in the Malcolm X class “Beginning Algebra With Geometry” taught by Williams, according to the lawsuit. And despite not having any trouble participating in the class for the first two days, Mapp’s complaint said Williams pulled him aside in the hallway and told him to drop out of the class because Mapp was blind.
Williams could not immediately be reached for comment. A City Colleges spokeswoman declined to comment.
“It is Mapp’s understanding that Williams did not want to have to deal with the logistics of teaching a person who is blind,” Mapp’s attorney, John L. Steele, wrote in the complaint.
Mapp told Williams that the classroom assistant, who was allegedly present for the conversation, could help Mapp succeed in class, according to the lawsuit.
But the student was forced to drop the class and take a different one he “had no interest in” so that he wouldn’t lose his financial aid, his lawyer wrote.

Carolann Kraft, of Illinois accused of theft by deception of Person with Learning Disabilities

Carolann Kraft

Carolann Kraft, 25, of Wheeling, IL. was charged with theft by deception. (Courtesy of Deerfield Police)
A Wheeling woman has been charged with theft by deception, a felony, after taking advantage of a friend with learning disabilities, according to a Deerfield Police Department news release.

Carolann Kraft, 25, of Wheeling, was taken into custody after a two-month investigation which began Feb. 9, when the victim and her parents came to police with concerns about identity theft, according to the release.

Kraft induced the victim to open credit card accounts using the excuse she needed to establish credit, according to the release. At Kraft's direction, the defendant's address was used on the applications.

After the cards arrived at Kraft's residence, she made purchases for her own use, according to the release. When the statements arrived, Kraft told the victim she was unable to satisfy them convincing the victim to pay them from her personal account. The bills totaled $7,741.36.

During a subsequent investigation, police learned Kraft knew about the victim's learning disabilities and took advantage of her for personal gain. After discussions with the Lake County state's attorney's office, Kraft was charged with theft by deception and an arrest warrant was issued April 9.

Kraft surrendered to Deerfield police April 15 and was taken to the Lake County Courthouse for a bond hearing. If convicted, she could face between two and five years in prison. She is currently free on bond.

article by Steve Sadin - 
Steve Sadin is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.
Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Denounce Lethal Anti-Disability Healthcare Policy Advocated by Princeton University Professor Peter Singer - PETITION - Act Now!

as posted at Change.org

Princeton University Professor Peter Singer has a long history of advocating for the legitimization of bigotry in public and healthcare policy arenas. Since about 1980, Singer has promoted public policy that would legalize the killing of disabled infants. At that time, his “claims to fame” were basically twofold: 1) his work on “animal liberation,” which, among other things, defined “personhood” in a way that would make it less moral to kill some animals than to kill some disabled humans, especially infants; and 2) his advocacy of public health policy that would offer parents of a disabled newborn the opportunity to have medical professionals kill the infant.
20 years of that advocacy and accompanying notoriety worked out well for Professor Singer. It worked well enough for Princeton University to offer him a tenured position at that university to teach bioethics in 1999.  The appointment met with a large protest at Princeton – in which hundreds of disabled activists protested on the campus on his first day of class, culminating in the blockading of the Princeton administrative building and the arrests of activists who refused to move when ordered to do so. Princeton responded in faux shock – as though they hadn't hired in him due to – in large part – his near-celebrity status.
Singer's policy assaults on disabled people have broadened in scope since 1999. In 2009, the New York Times Magazine published an article by Singer titled ‘Why We Must Ration Health Care.’ In the article Singer spoke “hypothetically” of assigning a life with quadriplegia as roughly half that of a life without any disability at all. On this “hypothetical” basis, Singer laid out a case for denying health care to people with significant disabilities on the basis that our lives have less value than the lives of nondisabled people. A response signed by 20 national disability rights organizations was submitted to the magazine, decrying the decision to seek out Singer as an analyst of healthcare and for the specific content of the article.
At the time, this was probably Peter Singer’s most direct assault on the value of the lives of people with physical disabilities past the age of infancy. His policy proposals allowing for the killing of newborns with disabilities and people with significant cognitive disabilities were already well known.
Singer's latest assault on the lives of people with disabilities occurred while on a radio talk show on April 26 that is broadcast live in New York City and Philadelphia. The show, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio,” is also broadcast and archived on his website. Singer's remarks from the show were first reported by WND in a story.  Not Dead Yet paid a subscription fee to Klein's website to access the show and verify the quotes.
Singer was on Klein's show as part of his media promotion of a new book, The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically. Unlike most interviewers, Klein decided to explore some of Singer's earlier writings and to discuss them.
On Friday, April 23, the National Council on Disability issued a press statement on Singer's comments during the show, which read in part:
Singer told Klein that health care rationing is already happening, and surmised that hospitals routinely make decisions not based on need, but rather on cost. He then used the presumed practice to rationalize the killing of disabled infants by arguing in support of “non-voluntary euthanasia” for human beings who Singer contends are not capable of understanding the choice between life and death, including “severely disabled infants, and people who through accident, illness, or old age have permanently lost the capacity to understand the issue involved.”
When asked whether denying treatment to disabled infants has become more common in the United States under the Affordable Care Act, Singer speculated: “It does happen. Not necessarily because of costs” and continued:   “If an infant is born with a massive hemorrhage in the brain that means it will be so severely disabled that if the infant lives it will never even be able to recognize its mother, it won’t be able to interact with any other human being, it will just lie there in the bed and you could feed it but that’s all that will happen, doctors will turn off the respirator that is keeping that infant alive.”
“I don’t know whether they are influenced by reducing costs,” Singer said before using what critics claim is inflammatory and speculative language to defend the practice. “Probably they are just influenced by the fact that this will be a terrible burden for the parents to look after, and there will be no quality of life for the child... We are already taking steps that quite knowingly and intentionally are ending the lives of severely disabled infants. And I think we ought to be more open in recognizing that this happens.”
Klein followed up by asking whether the killing of severely disabled infants should be encouraged to reduce health-care costs. “Do you think in the future in order to ensure a more fair rationing of health-care and health-care costs,” asked Klein, “that it should actually be instituted more? The killing of severely disabled babies?”
Singer responded, by stating if “you had a health-care system in which governments were trying to say, “Look, there are some things that don’t provide enough benefits given the costs of those treatments. And if we didn’t do them we would be able to do a lot more good for other people who have better prospects,” then yes, I think it would be reasonable for governments to say, “This treatment is not going to be provided on the national health service if it’s a country with a national health service. Or in the United States on Medicare or Medicaid.”
Without offering any concrete measure on how quality of life could or should be determined, Singer admitted, “I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments.”
While Aaron Klein was undoubtedly aiming toward something to specifically condemn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Singer made it clear that some killing through neglect already occurs in American hospitals (and did so for decades before the ACA came into being).  Now he is advocating that both government run healthcare and private insurance can and should deny care to some people based on real or alleged cognitive and/or physical disabilities for economic reasons.
For those who may worry that Singer’s words deserve the protection of academic freedom, Princeton’s own policy on Respect for Others strikes a balance which the University has sadly ignored:  “As an intellectual community, [Princeton] attaches great value to freedom of expression and vigorous debate, but it also attaches great importance to mutual respect, and it deplores expressions of hatred directed against any individual or group.”  Rather than challenging Singer’s advocacy as a form of hate speech, Princeton University has provided Singer with a prominent platform and increased access to US media and policymakers for 16 years, establishing itself as the home for the worst of overt – and deadly – bigotry against disabled people of all ages.   
Enough is enough.  It’s long past time for this outrage to end.
We, the undersigned, demand the following:
  • That Princeton University officials should immediately call for Professor Singer's resignation;
  • That Princeton University officials should publicly disavow Singer’s statements that both devalue the lives of people with disabilities and advocate public policies that would end those lives through denial of healthcare; and
  • That the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Chris Christie publicly denounce the lethal and discriminatory public health care policy advocated by Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer.

Letters to be sent:
Princeton University Officials
New Jersey State Legislators
New Jersey Governor
To Sign the Change.org Petition, visit:

Help Pass the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act - On-Line Petition - Act Now!

as posted at Change.org

Petition the U.S. Senate and U.S House

Alzheimer’s Association 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures

Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias are currently the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, while also holding the distinction of being the only condition in the top 10 to not have a cure. In the coming years, health professionals predict that the number of Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s will rise from its current figure of 5.3 million to nearly 13.8 million by 2050. This significant rise in the number of Alzheimer’s patients will require significant costs to American society, which could eventually reach upwards of 1.1 trillion dollars. This is especially troubling for patients and family members affected due to Medicare’s lack of coverage for several services necessary for the care of people suffering from Alzheimer’s or other related dementias.

In its current form, Medicare does not cover services that could lead to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other related dementias in patients. This oversight has led to only 45% of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease having been told of their diagnosis, as compared with more than 90% of cancer patients who are made aware of their condition. The Health Outcomes, Planning, and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer’s Act (S. 827 / H.R. 1559) aims to correct this by amending Medicare to provide coverage for comprehensive Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia diagnosis and services. This amendment will improve the detection, diagnosis, and care planning of those afflicted so that they will have the knowledge and support to battle their disease to the best of their abilities. 

Please devote your time and energy to passing the HOPE for Alzheimer's Act (S. 857/H.R. 1559) so that millions of Alzheimer's and dementia patients can better combat their incurable disease.

To sign the on-line petition at Change.org, visit:

Association of Horizon Awards Daniel Matuch 2015 Horizon Hope Grant Winner

from a Press Release | April, 2015

Chicago, IL - The Association of Horizon, Inc. has named Daniel Matuch as its 2015 Horizon Hope Grant Winner. A volunteer with the organization since 2007, Daniel is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at the Moody Bible Institute. Daniel has demonstrated the mission and vision of the organization and through his studies intends to continue to give back to his community through counseling.
About the Association of Horizon, Inc.The Association of Horizon is an all-volunteer organization that provides opportunities for adults with and without physical disabilities to socialize, interact, and learn from one another. Established in 1992, for twenty-four years, Horizon has successfully produced a week long summer camp for adults with physical disabilities. In 2014, Horizon Camp hosted over one hundred campers and their one-on-one volunteer attendants. Horizon Camp is provided free of charge to all participants as funds are raised throughout the year through private donations and grants. 

About the Horizon Hope GrantThe Horizon Hope Grant gives the Association of Horizon, Inc., the opportunity to give back to its community of campers and volunteers. Each year, the organization rewards one active member of the organization who demonstrates a commitment to the organization's mission and vision. Applicants must either be a full-time or part-time student attending a college or university for the purpose of obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree or an individual with a physical disability in need of a specific accommodation, e.g., medical equipment, assistive technology, or construction for adapted living.
For more information, visit www.associationofhorizon.org

National Council on Independent Living Director to Ask Congress for $200 Million in Additional IL Funding: Your Support Urgently Needed!

On Wednesday, April 29, Kelly Buckland, NCIL’s Executive Director, will be testifying in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee at their Public Witness Hearing. Kelly will be addressing the crucial need to increase funding for Independent Living, and the vital role that Centers for Independent Living play in the lives of people with disabilities. Read Kelly’s testimony
From 2012-2014, CILs provided the four core services to nearly 5 million individuals with disabilities. In that same period CILs moved 13,030 people out of nursing homes and institutions, and provided services such as housing assistance, transportation, personal care attendants, and employment services, to hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities. Every day, CILs are fighting to ensure that people with disabilities gain and maintain control over our own lives.
We know that this cannot occur when people reside in institutional settings. Opponents of deinstitutionalization say that allowing people with disabilities to live in the community will result in harm. We say that it’s time to get rid of those outdated, paternalistic attitudes and allow people with disabilities REAL choice in where and how they live, work, and otherwise participate in the community. The 13,030 people CILs successfully transitioned out of nursing homes and institutions from 2012-2014 clearly prove that deinstitutionalization works.
Congress demonstrated their understanding and support for this when WIOA was passed and transition was added as a fifth core service. However, with IL being the only federally funded program mandated to provide transition services, the need for funding is critical! Moreover, CILs need additional funding to restore the devastating cuts to the Independent Living program, make up for inflation costs, and address the increased demand for independent living services. Right now, the Independent Living Program is receiving nearly $3 million less in funding than we were in 2010. This is simply unacceptable.
The value of CILs cannot be overstated. People with disabilities deserve to be the decision-makers in our own lives, and CILs provide that opportunity to millions of individuals. We need to make sure that Congress hears this! The Subcommittee is accepting written testimony for the record from the public through April 29, and they need to hear from you! Input from the IL community will provide an incredible amount of support for NCIL’s written and oral testimony.
NCIL has also created a sample testimony for your use.
You should feel free to change and personalize this as much as you want - just make sure your testimony adheres to the guidance provided above and does not exceed 5 pages. Once it’s finished, you can send it as an email attachment to LH.Approp@mail.house.gov with the subject line FY 2016 written testimony for the record or fax it to 202-225-3509.

Monday, April 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

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

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

The following is provided by the Pacific ADA Center

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fair Housing Act Protects People with Disabilities Against Discrimination

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

About the Guest Blogger

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