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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Access Theater Performances of "Fun Home" - Victory Gardens Theater - October in Chicago

Join us for the Access Performances of Fun Home!
You're invited to ACCESS PERFORMANCES for our season opener: Fun HomeHailed as one of Broadway’s most original musicals and the winner of 5 Tony Awards, Fun Home is a groundbreaking story inspired by Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir. In this intimate musical, Alison sets out to unravel the many mysteries of her childhood through a series of memories and conversations – from her coming out to her moving journey to acceptance. Gary Griffin (Hand to God, Never the Sinner) directs this emotionally charged family drama that The New York Times calls “extraordinary,” and “a rare beauty.”

Check out the performance schedule below for dates, times, and details about services offered at each access performance. To purchase tickets, click the button below or call into the box office at 
Victory Gardens Theater
ChicagoIL 60614

All Access performances are only $20 with the promo codeACCESS
Schedule of Access Services for Fun Home

Friday, October 6, 7:30pm

ASL Interpretation, Open Captioning, Audio Description, Touch Tour
Touch Tour at 6:00pm.
Postshow Discussion captioned by CART Services
Saturday, October 7, 3:00pm
Open Captioning

Wednesday, October 11, 2:00pm
Open Captioning
Post-Show Discussion captioned by CART Services

Sunday, October 15, 3:00pm
Audio Described, Touch Tour
Touch Tour at 1:30pm

2017 Disability Community Resource Fair - Forest Park, IL. - Oct. 19th

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WASHINGTON – Sept. 2017 - Persons living with mental illness, intellectual or other developmental disabilities continue to face significant housing discrimination in the rental housing market, according to a new pilot study released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Rental Housing Discrimination on the Basis of Mental Disabilities: Results of Pilot Testing finds that when compared to people without mental disabilities, those persons who are living with mental disabilities receive fewer responses to their rental inquiries, are informed of fewer available units, and are less likely to be invited to contact the housing provider.  In addition, HUD’s study found that they are less likely to be invited to tour an available unit, are more likely to be steered to a different unit than the one advertised, and are treated differently depending on their type of disability.
The study also examined what happens when a person with a mental disability makes a request for a reasonable accommodation, finding that a large percentage of people with mental disabilities were given a negative response to their requests, ranging from outright denials to subtler barriers.
“Today’s study spotlights the types of discrimination people with mental disabilities experience when searching for housing,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The findings will not only inform our enforcement efforts, but enable us to identify and remove barriers for those who face housing discrimination. Though nearly 30 years have passed since the Fair Housing Act was expanded to protect individuals with disabilities, we still have work to do to ensure equitable housing opportunities for all.”
The study has significant importance for the future of paired testing for housing discrimination because it represents the first multicity housing discrimination study to utilize people with mental disabilities as testers. Research focused on two areas: the prevalence and kinds of discrimination facing people with mental disabilities seeking rental housing in the private market, and effective methodologies for testing for housing discrimination using people with mental disabilities as testers.
As a pilot study, it was conducted through e-mail and phone testing in nine small and mid-sized urban rental markets that mirror the distribution of the mental and developmental disability population across metropolitan statistical areas in the U.S., and with in-person testing in the two large rental markets, Chicago and Washington, DC. Testing was divided equally between mental illness and intellectual developmental disabilities, and a total of more than 1,000 matched pair tests (i.e. pairing and comparing testers with mental disabilities with testers who have no mental disabilities, known as control testers) were administered.
The pilot study revealed that individuals with mental disabilities seeking rental housing were: 
  • Less likely to receive a response to their inquiry in e-mail testing (17.55 percent of people without disabilities received a response compared with 9.19 percent of people with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disability in email testing);
  • Less likely to be told an advertised unit was available in in-person testing (5.94 percent of people without disabilities were told that the advertised unit was available compared with 0.99 percent of people with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disabilities in in-person testing);
  • Less likely to be invited to contact the housing provider in e-mail testing (7.69 percent of people without disabilities were invited to contact the housing provider to see the unit compared with 0.00 percent of people with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disabilities in e-mail testing);
  • Less likely to be invited to inspect the available unit in telephone testing (21.26 percent of people without disabilities were invited to inspect the unit compared with 16.47 percent of people with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disabilities in telephone testing);
  • More likely to be encouraged to look at a different unit than the one advertised in telephone testing, a potential indicator of steering people with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disabilitiestoward specific buildings or areas within rental complexes; and
  • Treated adversely at disparate rates depending on disability type, with higher rates of adverse treatment found for individuals with mental illness than for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Additionally, the willingness of a housing provider to grant a request for an accommodation varied by mode of testing, with the rate of granting a request for a reasonable accommodation being significantly higher when the request was made by telephone compared to email.  However, regardless of the testing mode, a significant percentage of people with mental disability seeking reasonable accommodation were given a negative response to their request.  Moreover, when requests were made by phone, response rates differed by type of disability, revealing that a higher percentage of housing providers were willing to provide accommodations to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (63.8 percent) than to people with mental illness (55.2 percent).
These results suggest that a broad-based initiative to educate housing providers about their fair housing rights and obligations could be helpful.  The study also suggests that housing, disability, and civil rights organizations should increase their efforts to educate persons with mental disabilities about their housing rights, how to recognize discrimination, and what actions they should take when facing possible discrimination.
HUD is also publishing four supplemental short papers that complement and further illustrate the complex issues surrounding both housing discrimination against people with mental disabilities and the involvement of people with mental disabilities in testing for housing discrimination.  The main pilot study and four supplemental papers can be found here.
The supplemental papers are:
The majority of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies under the Fair Housing Act in Fiscal Year 2016 were on the basis of disability, with 4,908 complaints – or more than 58 percent of all fair housing complaints. HUD provides Fair Housing Assistance Program funding annually on a noncompetitive basis to state and local agencies that enforce fair housing laws substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act, in order for them to support a variety of fair housing administrative and enforcement activities.Through the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, HUD also provides funds to eligible organizations through competitive grants under initiatives designed to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices and inform individuals of their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act.  
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet
at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov.
SOURCE: HUD Press Release

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Dementia Patients finding 'Google Street View' technology

In 2007, Google sent out the first fleet of cars armed with cameras to map the world. Who could have guessed that a decade later, a researcher, biomechanical engineer Anne-Christine Hertz would use Street View technology to help dementia patients remember.

Anne-Christine was trying to develop new methods to treat Alzheimer’s patients and those suffering from dementia. Specifically, she wanted to help them preserve old memories. Memory loss is one of the most traumatic side effects of dementia, both for patients and their loved ones.

To combat this, she built a prototype called BikeAround, which pairs a stationary bike with Google Street View to take dementia patients on a virtual ride down memory lane. Patients input a street address of a place that means something to them - a childhood home for instance - and then use the pedals and handlebars to “bike around” their old neighborhoods.

For much more on information on "Google Street View" technology: CLICK HERE
source: Google

YouTube published by Google

Friday, September 22, 2017

Illinois Disability Rights Consortium meeting to focus on Trauma Informed Advocacy - Professional Responsibility - Sept 27, 2017 webcast

The next Illinois Disability Rights Consortium meeting will take place on Wednesday September 27th, 2017 from 9:30-11:00 at Equip for Equality’s Chicago office (20 N. Michigan, Suite 300). The topic will be trauma informed advocacy and Sarah Hess from the Legal Council for Health Justice will be the presenter.

Here’s a description of the session: Disability advocates often work with clients who have endured traumatic events that impact their ability to work, go to school, attend appointments, "comply" with medical advice, and feel safe. By understanding trauma and how it presents in clients, advocates can better respond to and advocate for their clients. Trauma-informed practices benefit all clients by eliciting more information, creating a more trusting relationship with the client, and empowering clients following representation. This session will provide practical tools for advocates to provide trauma-informed services, to incorporate trauma-sensitive arguments into their work, and to adapt their environment and systems to account for client trauma and advocate secondary trauma.

This session will be available via webcast. Here is the link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/1269815368568993025

This program will be eligible for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education Credit and we will be applying for Professional Ethics credit. A captioner will be present for the meeting. 

U.S. Republican Congressman Cites Lawsuit Abuse in Attempt To Destroy The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been in effect for 27 years, and is responsible for familiar accessibility features like handicapped-designated parking spots and ramps in public spaces and large businesses.

09/21/2017 | ConsumerAffairs.com | article By Amy Martyn                                                                                                                                                                      
Like other civil rights legislation, the ADA is enforced by either filing a complaint with the federal government or by filing suit. However, a few unscrupulous attorneys and plaintiffs have abused this to such an extent that the ADA may soon face legislation to weaken it.

In Los Angeles, a wheelchair-bound convicted pedophile sued more than 1,000 businesses over ADA violations before his legal scheme was exposed by a newspaper report. He committed suicide four months later.

In Phoenix, a group billing itself as advocates for the disabled sued a reported 2,120 businesses over the size of their handicapped parking spots. In Austin, an attorney targeted nearly 400 small businesses with either lawsuits or demand letters asking for money to settle supposed ADA violations.

A bill that could kill the ADA completely
Congressman Ted Poe, a Texas Republican in the House of Representatives, has introduced a bill that he claims “will curb frivolous lawsuits filed by cash-hungry attorneys and plaintiffs that abuse the ADA.”

His legislation, HR 620, recently cleared the House Judiciary Committee with support from Democratic lawmakers in California.

"The ADA is being abused by lawyers who've often never seen these properties,” says Representative Scott Peters, a California Democrat who is co-sponsoring HR 620.

But over 200 civil rights organizations warn that HR 620 will severely weaken a landmark piece of legislation for the disabled and do little to deter the problem of ADA lawsuit “trolls," as they are sometimes called.

Texas civil rights attorney Jim Harrington counts the ADA as one of the best civil rights laws ever enacted. But last year, Harrington took an unexpected turn defending small businesses in Austin targeted by frivolous ADA lawsuits.

Austin attorney Omar W. Rosales sued so many local businesses over technical ADA violations that local disabled persons advocacy groups publicly denounced him. Among Rosales’ targets were small pediatric clinics, which his adult client would be unlikely to ever visit.

The “offenders” often agreed to pay Rosales settlements “because it was less expensive for them to settle than fight him, even though they would win [a court battle]," Harrington says. 

Individual attorney problem
Rosales has since been sanctioned, sued by the State Bar, and suspended from practicing law in the Federal Western District Court for the next three years. He still advertises his “commitment" to the disabled on his website, but refused attempts to be interviewed by a ConsumerAffairs reporter.

“Are you hiding from debt collectors? IRS problems?” he responded in one hostile email to a reporter.

Critics note that HR 620 doesn’t specifically target people like Rosales. Under HR 620, if any prospective customer finds they cannot access a building because of their disability, they would be required to first send a written notice to the business owner, wait 60 days for a response, then, assuming the business owner responds, wait an additional 120 days for the business to correct the problem. Only after this waiting period would they be able to sue or lodge a complaint.

Human Rights Watch says this bill would “act as a profound deterrent to people looking to enforce their rights under the ADA.”

Though the measure has attracted sponsorship from a slew of Democratic California lawmakers like Representative Peters, he sounds less enthusiastic when discussing the details of the bill, particularly the 180-day waiting period. "Would the ACLU agree this is a good bill if there was 60 days?" he asks.

Harrington points out that no other civil rights law requires a person to send in a written notice before they can sue. "We don't do that with civil rights law,” he argues.

Harrington and disability groups say that the frivolous lawsuit problem isn’t really a problem with the ADA itself, but an individual attorney problem, and should be dealt with as such.

"These clowns around the country have given [Congressman Poe] and other folks the opportunity to come in and essentially gut the ADA,” he says. “The courts are really basically taking care of this. They really clamped down on these jerks."

Many large business associations, representing apartments, retailers and shopping centers, have thrown their support behind HR 620. But those associations don’t fit the profile of the type of businesses that Harrington and Peters say are typically victimized by frivolous ADA litigation.

“Who I hear from mostly,” Peters says, “are these small restaurants who rent space from a land owner."

Reporter Amy Martyn is a writer and investigative reporter now based in San Diego by way of Tijuana, BC, Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA. She primarily writes about how consumers, taxpayers and businesses are affected by corporate and government policies.

Jen Brea’s Film "Unrest" Shares Journey of Medical Issues and Becoming A Person With A Disability

When Harvard Ph.D. student Jennifer Brea is struck down by a fever that leaves her bedridden, she sets out on a virtual journey to document her story as she fights a disease that medicine forgot.

The film "Unrest" is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine. Unrest world-premiered January in the documentary competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Prize for editing.

Please visit the "Unrest" official website at: https://www.unrest.film/


Dr. Roberto A. Fernandez of Miami Sentenced for Role in Pain Pill Diversion and $4.8 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Sept. 20, 2017 - A Miami physician was sentenced today to 97 months in prison and three years of supervised release, for his role in a $4.8 million health care fraud scheme that involved the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and the illegal prescribing of controlled substances, including oxycodone and hydrocodone.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Shimon R. Richmond of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Miami Regional Office and Special Agent in Charge Brian Swain of the U.S. Secret Service’s (USSS) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
Roberto A. Fernandez, M.D., 51, of Miami, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Cecelia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida.  Judge Altonaga also ordered Fernandez to pay $4.8 million in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-conspirators.  Fernandez pleaded guilty on July 11,  to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud in connection with a scheme, that ran from April 2011 to February 2017, involving the submission of false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and the illegal prescribing of controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam.
As part of his guilty plea, Fernandez admitted that he referred Medicare beneficiaries to pharmacy owners in exchange for illegal health care kickbacks.  Fernandez admitted knowing that the pharmacy owners were billing and receiving reimbursements from Medicare for prescription drugs based upon the prescriptions he sold, and that many of his prescriptions were medically unnecessary.  For example, he admitted providing prescriptions for expensive, name brand drugs, including HIV/AIDS medications that conflicted with other HIV drugs already prescribed to the beneficiaries.
Fernandez also solicited referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to his own practices from his co-conspirators, he admitted, including submitting claims to Medicare under his Part B provider number for services he did not, in fact, render.  Additionally, Fernandez admitted to receiving kickbacks in return for signing plans of care and prescriptions for medically unnecessary home health services.
Fernandez further admitted that he prescribed controlled substances, including addictive opioids, to patients and patient recruiters in return for $100 to $200 cash per prescription.  Fernandez admitted that he knew these patients did not need the controlled substances he prescribed, and that he would sometimes write prescriptions for controlled substances for patients whom he did not even examine. 
The FBI, HHS-OIG and USSS investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa H. Miller of the Southern District of Florida and a former Fraud Section trial attorney, and Fraud Section Trial Attorney Adam G. Yoffie are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide.  Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.
source: press release Department of Justice

New Orleans Woman Kim Ricard Convicted for Role in $2.1 Million Medicare Kickback Scheme

Sept 14, 2017 - A federal jury found a New Orleans woman guilty of conspiracy, identity theft and false statements charges for her role in an approximately $2.1 million Medicare kickback scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Porter of the Office of Inspector General – Health and Human Services Dallas Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Jeff Sallet of the FBI’s New Orleans Field Office made the announcement.

After a two-day trial, Kim Ricard, age 51, of New Orleans, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks in connection with Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, Ricard was convicted of three counts of accepting kickbacks, along with three counts of identity theft and one count of making false statements to federal agents. Sentencing has been scheduled for December 7, before U.S. District Judge Jane Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana, who presided over the trial.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2008 to 2013, Ricard and others engaged in a scheme to refer mentally ill Medicare patients to home health agencies in and around New Orleans, in exchange for kickbacks. The evidence further established that Ricard unlawfully used the Medicare identification information of three Medicare beneficiaries in connection with the scheme. Ricard then lied to investigators, the evidence showed.

As a result of the scheme, Ricard’s co-conspirator caused Medicare to pay over $2.1 million based on those illegally-obtained referrals

One other defendant was charged in this matter. Milton Diaz, 65, of Harvey, Louisiana, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the FBI. Trial Attorneys Claire Yan and Kate Payerle of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 3,500 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $12.5 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 Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov

.source: press release Department of Justice

EEOC Alleges Wood Group Refused to Hire Worker Because of His Disability

Global Offshore Company Refused to Hire Offshore Worker Because of Diabetes, Federal Agency Charged
NEW ORLEANS - Sept 21, 2017 - Wood Group PSN, Inc., a global company which provides operations and maintenance to the oil, petrochemical and gas industries, denied employment to an offshore worker because of his disability, the EEOC alleged in a lawsuit filed today.
The suit, filed in United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, Case No. 2:17-cv-09339, alleges that in June 2015, Calvin McKelroy, a type I insulin-dependent diabetic, was denied employment as a Production Operator because of his medical condition in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended. The suit further alleges that McKelroy had worked on the same platform as a Production Operator for Grand Isle Shipyard for many months without incident. During that employment, McKelroy never experienced any issues related to his disability.
In June 2015, Fieldwood Energy changed staffing contractors from Grand Isle Shipyard to Wood Group. As a result of this transition, the lawsuit alleges, McKelroy was required to complete a new job application and undergo a physical examination to maintain his employment. The job which McKelroy would have done for Wood Group was the same job, at the same location that he already had been performing successfully, according to the EEOC.
Following a medical examination, on June 3, 2015, a project manager for Wood Group notified McKelroy that Wood Group would not hire him because of the purported risk posed by his disability.
The EEOC alleges that Wood Group violated the ADA when it refused to hire McKelroy because of his diabetes. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Wood Group from engaging in unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability in the future, as well as lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages for McKelroy, and other relief the court deems proper.
Keith Hill, New Orleans Field Office Director, said, "Employers should be reminded that they are required to engage in an individualized assessment of whether an employee can do the job with or without accommodation." Rudy Sustaita, Regional Attorney, stated "Discrimination on the basis of disability in the employment process will not be tolerated."
Wood Group PSN, Inc. is an international company with locations throughout the world.
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

Gulf Logistics Operating Sued For Disability Discrimination By EEOC

Vessel Company Discharged Deckhand With 'Situational Depression' Because It Perceived Him to be Disabled, Federal Agency Charged
NEW ORLEANS - Sept 21, 2017 -  An oil and gas vessel company doing business in the Larose, La., area violated federal law by firing an employee because it perceived him to be disabled, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Gulf Logistics discharged deckhand Jason Gunderson after seeking assistance from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) because the company perceived him to be disabled due to his "situational depression" even though he was able to perform the essential functions of his job without any restrictions. The suit further alleged the company did not conduct any intensive individualized assessment of Gunderson's mental impairment, as the law requires, to determine if it affected his ability to perform the essential functions of the position as mandated by the law before discharging him.
Additionally, the EEOC asserts that forcing Gunderson to seek a medical release to return to work because he asked for a referral to the company's EAP constituted an illegal medical inquiry or exam under the law.
Disability discrimination violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-09362) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination and retaliation, as well as back pay, compensatory damages, pecuniary losses and punitive damages for Gunderson.
"It is clearly and plainly unlawful to discharge an employee due to biases about that employee's ability to perform his or her job because of a medical condition," said Keith Hill, field director for the New Orleans office.
Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for EEOC's New Orleans and Houston offices, said, "No employee should be subjected to unlawful stereotyped decisions based on his or her medical health and attempts to seek assistance to cope with difficulties in their lives."
Michelle Butler, senior trial attorney for the New Orleans Field Office, added, "Mr. Gunderson was performing his duties without any restrictions. Gulf Logistics fired him based on an unsubstantiated determination that he was not able to perform his duties. When this happens, the EEOC will step in to defend such people's rights."
According to company information, Gulf Logistics operates a fleet of offshore workboats for the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry. Its vessels support a multitude of projects for companies engaging in oil and gas exploration and production. Its corporate office is in Larose, La.
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

EEOC Sues S&C Electric Co.in Chicago for Age and Disability Discrimination

Employer Fired Employee After 52 Years of Service Rather Than Returning Him From Medical Leave, Federal Agency Charges
CHICAGO - Sept 19, 2017 - S&C Electric Co. in Chicago unlawfully fired an employee on the bases of age and disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
The EEOC charges that S&C committed age and disability discrimination when it terminated Richard Rascher after he was released to return to work after taking an approved medical leave for cancer and a hip fracture. S&C fired Rascher, who was 74, after 52 years of service to the company, according to the EEOC.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), EEOC claims in its federal complaint. The ADA prohibits disability discrimination, and the ADEA prohibits age discrimination.
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case, EEOC v. S&C Electric Co., Civil Action No. 17-cv-6753, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman. The EEOC's lawsuit seeks both monetary and injunctive relief. The government's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorneys Miles Shultz and Richard Mrizek and EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane Smason.
"After an approved leave, S&C refused to allow an employee with over a half century of service to simply return to work," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago. "Our investigation revealed Mr. Rascher was fully cleared to return to work, but that S&C insisted he 'retire' instead."
Gregory Gochanour, the EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago, added, "It is illegal for an employer to insist an employee retire when returning from an approved medical leave when the employee is cleared to go back to work. This is classic discrimination, based on both age and disability."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimin­ation, adminis­trative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
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

All Star Priority Staffing in Phoenix Sued by EEOC For Disability Discrimination

Phoenix Staffing Agency Subjected Applicants to Invasive Pre-Offer Medical Questionnaire And Screened Applicants on the Basis of Their Responses, Federal Agency Charges
PHOENIX - All Star Priority Staffing, LLC, a Phoenix staffing agency, violated federal law by forcing applicants seeking temporary employment to fill out an invasive medical questionnaire and answer medical questions before job offers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed last week. The federal agency also charged the company with denying job opportunities to applicants based on their answers.
According to the EEOC's suit, All Star's application process required applicants to fill out a medical questionnaire that inquired into, among other things, the applicant's use of medications, history of illnesses, and whether the applicant has or had any current or previous injuries to various parts of the body. The EEOC further charged that All Star asked medical questions during the pre-offer interviews and then used the medical information obtained as the basis of denying employment opportunities.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination, including making pre-offer medical inquiries. The EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. All Star Priority Staffing, LLC, Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-03127-DLR, in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, after first attempting to reach a settlement through its pre-litigation conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages, as well as appropriate injunctive relief to prevent discriminatory practices in the future.
"In today's economic climate, a sizable percentage of the workforce relies on staffing agencies such as All Star to find employment," said EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "This reality led the EEOC to place an emphasis on protecting the civil rights of temporary workers and applicants. This case demonstrates the EEOC's commitment to protecting those workers."
Elizabeth Cadle, the EEOC's Phoenix District Office director, added, "Pre-offer medical questioning can have the effect of chilling individuals from applying for employment. The EEOC will continue to fight to protect applicants from being exposed to illegal medical questioning."
The EEOC's Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).
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

EEOC Sues Wynn Las Vegas for Disability Discrimination

Employee with Ovarian Cancer Denied Leave and Fired, Federal Agency Charged
LAS VEGAS - Sept 14, 2017 - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against the Wynn Las Vegas hotel/casino for violating federal law when it denied medical leave to and fired an employee because of her disability, the agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, in early 2013, after informing her manager that her ovarian cancer had returned, an employee requested leave to undergo surgery and to recover from the procedure. The EEOC contends that the Wynn Las Vegas failed to provide the employee with the requested leave for her medical treatment and discharged her due to her disability. The EEOC also contends that the Wynn Las Vegas discriminated against a class of similarly aggrieved employees based on their disabilities.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court of Nevada (EEOC v. Wynn Las Vegas, Case No.2:17-cv-02405) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, along with injunctive relief to prevent and address any future disability discrimination.
"Disability discrimination continues to be a perpetual problem, and employers should be cognizant of their responsibilities under federal law," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Las Vegas in its jurisdiction.
Wendy Martin, director of EEOC's Las Vegas local office, added, "Engaging in the interactive process assists employers in providing reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. It is the employer's responsibility to make sure that all supervisors and managers are properly trained on the laws against disability discrimination."
According to its website, www.wynnlasvegas.com, the company owns and operates an integrated luxury resort, which includes casinos, a golf course, spas, hotels, entertain­ment venues, along with restaurants and shops on the Las Vegas strip.
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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fund More Research for Medical Marijuana as a Solution to the Opioid Crisis - Online Petition

There’s a petition taking off on Change.org, and I think you might be interested in signing it, I did. Jim 

Petitioning National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health: Fund More Research for Medical Marijuana as a Solution to the Opioid Crisis

Sign The Dr. Oz Show’s petition

As a doctor, one of my primary responsibilities is to alleviate pain, and I’m always on the lookout for new and more effective treatments. For years, we’ve used opiates to treat pain and today we are in the throes of an addiction epidemic. Each day the opioid crisis sends over 1000 people to the emergency room and takes 91 lives. Doctors need new pain medications that don't have the ability to kill like opioids do.

I believe medical cannabis could do just that and I’m calling on the federal government to fund the research we need to prove it.

Outdated beliefs and policies have prevented our country from funding medical cannabis research but the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has reviewed other scientific research and found evidence that patients treated with cannabis or cannabinoids were more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms. Yet the government still says cannabis has no proven medical value.  

About twenty years ago, my colleagues and I were sold a bill of goods on a new strategy to treat people suffering from chronic pain. Opioids were the answer, and we were led to believe that not only were they effective, but that they couldn't be addictive. Unfortunately, it took a national emergency to realize that the quadrupling of opioid prescriptions that resulted from these teachings was actually a problem. Not only are opioids in fact highly addictive,  according to the CDC, there is actually little evidence that they are even effective at relieving chronic pain.

I was duped.  It's hard to admit it, but I have to face the facts. To make sure it never happens again, I’m asking you to sign this petition.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funds much of our nation’s medical research, allots only $111 million dollars to cannabis research.  This sounds like a large number, but it represents a mere 0.3 percent of NIH's total spending on research and is only 0.1 percent of the cost of the opioid epidemic. This is a drop in the bucket for something that experts believe could have the potential to help in our fight against the number one killer of adults under 50. Studies already suggest that states with medical cannabis laws have a 25 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.  

Almost half of opioid deaths are due to the overdose of prescription drugs. While heroin is responsible for much of the other half, research suggests that 4 out of 5 heroin users started with prescription drugs. I have traveled around the country and met countless families who needlessly lost their sons and daughters, husbands and wives to addiction. In addition to the obvious emotional costs of this epidemic, the financial burden is exorbitant. The opioid crisis costs our economy over $78 billion per year.    

So please join me in calling on NIH to quadruple its spending on this important research (only 50 percent of opiate epidemic costs) and sign this petition.
Sign The Dr. Oz Show’s petition

The person (or organization) who started this petition is not affiliated with Change.org. Change.org did not create this petition and is not responsible for the petition content.

CDC Opioid Guidelines Violate Standards Of Science Research

If you follow healthcare news, you know that millions of US pain patients are experiencing a world of troubles. If their pain itself wasn’t enough, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added to their agony in March 2016 by issuing a restrictive “Guideline” to primary care physicians on prescription of opioid medications to adults with long-lasting non-cancer pain.

American Council on Science and Health
article by Richard "Red" Lawhern , published by March 25, 2017

The Guideline was phrased as advisory rather than mandatory. But that distinction quickly got lost as the US Drug Enforcement Administration ramped up disciplinary proceedings and prosecution of doctors for “over-prescribing” opioids like OxyContin and hydrocodone. Even before final publication, Congress made the Guideline mandatory for the Department of Veterans Affairs. More recently, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are seeking to turn the Guideline into a mandatory restrictive practice standard for insurance reimbursement.

The new CMS standard will impose legal limits on the maximum amount of opioid pain relievers that a doctor may prescribe to a patient who isn’t actually dying of cancer. A maximum of 90 Morphine Milligram Equivalents per Day (MMED) will be imposed retroactively on patients who have done well on much higher doses for years, with no evidence of addiction or overdose risk. This despite the fact that the methodology of MMED is itself considered a meaningless medical mythology by many experts in the field.

Consequences of these changes are predictable. Even more physicians will leave pain management practice, throwing thousands of patients into the street without medical referral or support when they go into opioid withdrawal. Whole areas of US States are already no longer served by any pain management center. Potentially millions more patients will be forcibly tapered down or cut off cold-turkey, plunging them into agony and disability when they can no longer work or maintain family relationships due to under-treatment of their pain. More patients will be turned away by emergency rooms and family doctors. Suicide rates -- already on the increase -- will soar.

A deceptive bureaucratic maze adds deep insult and possibly criminal intent to this obvious injury.

Many of the core assumptions of the CDC guidelines are supported by only the weakest medical evidence – and others are clearly contradicted by the evidence. Medical professionals have published sharp criticisms of the CDC guideline and of the anti-opioid biases of consultants who wrote the document. A recent paper in Pain Medicine[ref: Pain Med (2016) 17 (11): 2036-2046] offers analysis that shows the writers of the Guideline deliberatelydistorted the evidence they gathered.

CDC consultants performed a literature review on the effectiveness and risks of three classes of treatments for severe chronic pain: opioids, non-opioid medicines like Tylenol, and behavioral therapies like rational cognitive therapy. Based on this review, they declared that there is very little evidence that opioids work for pain over long periods of time. But they neglected to inform readers that they had rejected any study of opioid medications that hadn’t lasted at least a year, then declaring that there was no proof that opioids are effective over the long term. But they did NOT reject studies of non-opioid medications or behavioral therapies that were similarly short.

As the Pain Medicine paper states, “To dismiss trials as “inadequate” if their observation period is a year or less is inconsistent with current regulatory standards… Considering only duration of active treatment in efficacy or effectiveness trials, published evidence is no stronger for any major drug category or behavioral therapy than for opioids.”

This didn’t keep the writers of the CDC Guideline from recommending that non-opioid treatments be favored over opioids, despite lack of evidence that they work. Nor did it keep the writers from exaggerating opioid risks – using the term “overdose” no less than 150 times in their biased and unscientific practice standard.

It is time for the CDC to withdraw its misdirected “opioid guideline” for a major rewrite. This time, the effort should be led by pain management specialists, not addiction psychiatrists. Pain patients or their advocates should be voting members of the writers group.


An expanded version of this article was published on March 15, 2017 after collaboration with Dr. Lawhern, under the byline of Frank Carroll in the Custer County Chronicle (SD), titled “Opioid Guideline Needs a Rewrite”.


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Jimmy Kimmel Takes Center Stage In Battle To Save Obamacare

Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel has become a leading advocate for maintaining Obamacare.

Washington (AFP) - Sept. 21, 2017                                                                                                          
Late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel has emerged as the unlikely town crier against the latest Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare, highlighting his son's heart disease in an emotional new appeal to salvage America's health care system.

For two straight nights he has stood on stage at an ABC studio in Los Angeles and, using his own son's harrowing story as an example of the extraordinary costs of emergency treatment, argued that poor and middle class families would be priced out of health care under the new plan.

"I want you to know I am politicizing my son's health problems, because I have to," Kimmel said in a lengthy monologue Tuesday night in which he blasted a bill unveiled last week by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham.

Kimmel's wife, Molly McNearney, gave birth in April to William Kimmel, who was born with a serious heart condition that required surgery three days after his birth.

His wealthy parents can easily afford the out-of-pocket costs, but in a tearful on-air appearance in May, the late-night host stressed that "no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life."

After the 49-year-old comedian publicized his son's plight, Cassidy came on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to promise that the health care reforms he was proposing would "pass the Jimmy Kimmel test," meaning no family should be denied medical care because they cannot afford it.

Kimmel said this week he had felt Cassidy was being honest at the time, and sounded like a "rare, reasonable" Republican voice.

Then came the Graham-Cassidy bill, which converts the Affordable Care Act's complex system of subsidies to help Americans pay for insurance into block grants to the 50 US states.

Several patient advocacy groups have come out in opposition, warning it could lead to millions of people losing health coverage and plunging the health care system into chaos in many states.

Critics say the plan would dramatically slash funding of Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor and disabled; allow states to decide whether insurance companies can hike insurance rates for people with expensive medical conditions or impose lifetime caps on coverage; and no longer require insurers to cover essential health benefits like maternity care.

"This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face," Kimmel said on his show.

On Wednesday Cassidy shot back: "I'm sorry he does not understand" the legislation, the senator told CNN, insisting his proposal fully protects people with pre-existing conditions and will lower premiums.

Kimmel pushed back. "There's a new Jimmy Kimmel test for you," he said. "It's called the lie detector test."

- 'Hollywood elites?' -

Kimmel himself has become a sort of celebrity leader of the opposition, using the tense back and forth with Cassidy, which played out on America's television screens and digital devices, to impact ongoing debate over whether Congress ought to move ahead with Graham-Cassidy legislation.

Vice President Mike Pence and several Republican lawmakers have been asked about whether recent versions of Obamacare repeal efforts would pass the Jimmy Kimmel test.

Graham, frustrated at Kimmel's criticism, said Wednesday he believed Kimmel might have been fed a liberal talking point and "bought it hook, line, and sinker."

Among the critics has been conservative-leaning network Fox News, whose morning host Brian Kilmeade chastised "Hollywood elites" for "pushing their politics on the rest of the country."

"My son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more -- and because of that I learned there are kids with no insurance in the same situation," Kimmel responded.

"I don't get anything out of this, Brian you phoney little creep."

Republicans control 52 Senate seats, and can afford only two defectors. All 48 Democrats are united against the bill.

Republican leadership has signalled it wants a vote on Graham-Cassidy next week.
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Jimmy Kimmel on Bill Cassidy’s Health “Care” Bill

Illinois Health Plans Frequently Deny Coverage of Mental Health, Addiction Care - 2017 Report

Despite ongoing mental health and addiction crises, Illinois treatment providers responding to a recent survey report frequent claims denials and other barriers to coverage, according to a new report released today by The Kennedy Forum Illinois, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, and Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.
Despite ongoing mental health and addiction crises, Illinois treatment providers responding to a recent survey report frequent claims denials and other barriers to coverage, according to a new report released today by The Kennedy Forum Illinois, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, and Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

The 16-page report, which is available here, raises important questions about health plans’ coverage of mental health and addiction conditions. Further investigation is urgently needed to identify and remove barriers, and ensure that Illinois Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) and commercial insurance plans are in compliance with federal and state laws that require they cover mental illness and addiction care on par with care for other medical conditions.

Key report findings include:
  • Upwards of 75 percent of responding providers reported that Medicaid MCOs sometimes/often/always denied coverage for inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and medication-assisted treatment. Nearly half of responding providers reported commercial insurers at least sometimes denied inpatient treatment.
  • More than 60 percent of responding providers reported that Medicaid MCOs sometimes/often/ always refused to cover the requested level of care and instead approved only a lower level of care, while 54 percent of responding providers reported commercial insurers did the same.
  • With Medicaid MCOs, nearly 65 percent of responding providers reported that they were told often or always that networks were simply closed. Nearly half of responding providers were told this often or always with commercial plans. The result: with mental health and addiction care providers unable to join plan networks, patients have more difficulty accessing care, due to the narrow network. 
  • More than 90 percent of responding providers report that both Medicaid MCOs and commercial plans have refused to provide requested medical necessity criteria, despite clear legal requirements that plans do so.
The organizations responsible for the report call for regulators, legislators, health plans, and providers to investigate what coverage barriers exist to coverage and work to remove them.

"This survey makes clear that Illinois must do more to remove barriers to coverage of mental health and addiction treatment,” said Kelly O’Brien, executive director of The Kennedy Forum Illinois, a leadership a mental health leadership initiative that seeks to eliminate stigma and change public policy. “Unless we make the promise of federal and state parity laws a reality, we will be unable to make the progress we need in ending Illinois' mental health and addiction crises that are ravaging our communities."

The report highlights evidence from around the country, where health plans have been found to not be in compliance with mental health and addiction parity laws that require most plans to cover mental health and addiction treatment on par with other medical conditions. Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum nationally and author of the landmark federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, called on policymakers to work to end stigma and discrimination against people living with mental health and addiction challenges.

"The mental health and addiction coverage barriers reported by Illinois providers are giant red flags that elected officials must urgently address,” said Kennedy. “Illnesses of the brain should be treated no differently than any other type of medical condition. To combat our country's mental health and addiction crises, we must enforce our laws and end discrimination against people with mental health and addiction challenges."

In response to the report, State Representative Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park), chairwoman of the House Mental Health Committee, expressed concern and promised the Committee would hold hearings.

"The General Assembly must get to the bottom of these reported barriers to mental health and addiction coverage. The Mental Health Committee will be holding hearings in the coming months to find out what coverage barriers exist and how we can remove them. To address Illinois' ongoing mental health and addiction crises, all stakeholders must work together to dramatically increase access to treatment and to ensure that state and federal parity laws are being followed."

Based on the report’s findings, State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva), member of the Mental Health Committee, filed a resolution urging action that is co-sponsored by Rep. Conroy, House Deputy Majority Leader State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), and Assistant Majority Leader State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).

“This report makes clear that barriers to coverage for mental health and addiction issues remain and need to be addressed so that all people get the benefits of the coverage to which they are entitled,” said Rep. Andersson. "That is why I've filed House Resolution 607 asking the Mental Health Committee to formulate a plan to remove barriers to mental health and addiction coverage and improve coverage parity."

Rep. Lang, author of Illinois’ Heroin Crisis Act and chair of the Subcommittee on Substance Abuse of the Mental Health Committee, called for the General Assembly to pass legislation that increases transparency on whether health plans are in compliance with state and federal parity laws.

"This survey raises numerous red flags about barriers to mental health and addiction coverage. Even though Illinois has a strong parity law on the books requiring health plans to cover mental health and addiction treatment on an equal basis with other types of medical care, there is little transparency on whether health plans are complying with the law,” said Rep. Lang. “That is why the General Assembly needs to pass legislation that increases transparency to ensure consumers can access the coverage they're entitled to."

The report offers recommendations for all stakeholders, including health plans, regulators, legislators, providers, and even consumers to remove barriers to mental health and addiction coverage. Consumers should contact the Illinois Attorney General’s office and Illinois Department of Insurance if they are having difficulty with their commercial insurance plans, and Medicaid MCO consumers should contact the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

“This report raises important questions about whether consumers can access mental health and addiction insurance coverage when they need it,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “My office is committed to holding insurance companies accountable to our state’s mental health parity laws. Anyone who has problems with their health insurance coverage should contact my Health Care Bureau for help at 1-877-305-5145.”

Jennifer Hammer, Director of The Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI), said, “The Illinois Department of Insurance strives to make Illinois families aware of the resources & coverage available to them. Families dealing with mental health issues and substance use disorder deserve support and understanding. Our goal is to ensure consumers learn their rights under state and federal law." DOI encourages Illinois residents to use DOI’s free Consumer Toolkit for Navigating Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder Care Through Your Health Insurance Plan or call DOI toll-free at 866-445-5346 for consumer assistance.

The organizations authoring the reports said they have sent copies of the report to all members of the Illinois General Assembly, Governor Bruce Rauner, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois Department of Insurance Director Jennifer Hammer and Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Felicia Norwood, with the intention of sparking necessary conversation to remove barriers to mental health and addiction coverage and treatment.

Additional expert quotes in reaction to the report’s findings: Meryl Sosa, Executive Director, Illinois Psychiatric Society: "Psychiatrists across Illinois regularly see patients' health plans deny coverage of needed mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment. Plan networks are often very difficult for psychiatrists to join, and plans often don't even provide requested medical necessity criteria, as required by law. To improve patient outcomes, health plans, regulators, and legislators must urgently work to remove these barriers to treatment."

Marvin Lindsey, CEO, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois: “Access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment is incredibly important for the health and well-being of Illinois. Any barriers to needed behavioral healthcare services harm communities, individuals and their families and must be completely eliminated."

Margie Schaps, Executive Director, Health and Medicine Policy Research Group: “Ensuring health plans cover mental health and addiction care on par with other types of medical conditions is critical to patients being able to access the care and treatment they need to stay healthy. Untreated mental health and substance use disorders drive higher rates of disease and mortality, and contribute significantly to high health care and other social costs.”

Janet Stover, President and CEO of IARF, the statewide association of community-based providers serving children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and substance use disorders: “Parity in health care is essential for all of us, and is especially important for individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Barriers to care are not only detrimental to the health and well-being of individuals we serve and support, but to the overall healthcare system as well. IARF looks forward to working with our partners in health and long-term care to eliminate these barriers, resolving issues raised in the report, and ensuring better health outcomes for those we serve and support."

Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health: “Compliance with state and federal behavioral health parity laws must be a top priority for managed care organizations and commercial insurance alike. Compliance must be built on a solid foundation of rigorous, transparent, and comprehensive data analysis, which must be mandated by the Illinois General Assembly.”

Click here to view and download complimentary versions of The Kennedy Forum’s policy papers. For more information about The Kennedy Forum and other helpful resources addressing behavioral health and substance use disorders, please visit http://www.TheKennedyForum.org.

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About The Kennedy Forum Founded in 2013 by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Kennedy Forum focuses on advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming in behavioral health. This is achieved through promoting public discourse in health and addiction issues, ensuring equal access for patients living with mental health and/or substance use disorders; and advancing prevention and treatment throughout the entire continuum of the healthcare delivery system. The Kennedy Forum’s collaborative partnerships help to foster greater provider accountability, integration and coordination, cutting-edge technologies, and brain fitness and health. The nonprofit organization publishes frequent issue briefs and is a repository of other educational resources on behavioral health parity issues. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum’s efforts to eradicate the stigma often associated with behavioral health, or to access related materials visit http://www.thekennedyforum.org, http://www.paritytrack.org, and http://www.parityregistry.org.

Source: PRWEB press release http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/09/prweb14713424.htm