Hot Off the Press! Archives
On November 2, 2007 a collection of disability-related organizations hosted the National Forum on Equality, Opportunity, and Access during which Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and John McCain presented his or her vision for the future of national disability policy. Transcripts have been made available on the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) website in their 2008 Presidential Election Action Center .
United Cerebral Palsy has released a new report that evaluates the disability experience in America. State of Disability in America examines existing research on how individuals with disabilities are faring in the areas of disability rights, healthcare, education, employment, housing, and organizing for change. The report shows that while tremendous strides have been made, thanks in large part to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Despite progress, a great many people with disabilities continue to live in poverty, largely depending on government services. They are also less likely to have positive educational opportunities and outcomes, be employed, or own a home. The report concludes with an assessment of the existing "system" and a look at the Life Without Limits Project, an initiative largely aimed at empowering people with disabilities to move out of the role of victim. To read State of Disability in America visit www.ucp.org/uploads/StateofDisability.pdf.
Finally, an approach that gives individuals with disabilities real choice when it comes to their long term care needs. The Medicaid Cash & Counseling program provides a flexible monthly allowance to recipients of Medicaid personal care services or home and community based services. Rather than an agency making decisions, the individual decides who to hire and what services they would like to receive. Real personal choice! At this time just 15 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia) offer this program.
It is up to you to educate your Medicaid office on this option. If your state does not offer the Cash & Counseling Program, e-mail email@example.com to request an information packet that you can share with your local Medicaid office.
To learn more about the Cash and Counseling Program visit www.cashandcounseling.org/.
Community Voice Mail (CVM) is a relatively new tool designed to help those in crisis and transition maintain a connection to the services that can improve their lives. It is a simple, yet effective solution - give people access to a constant phone number via voice mail. How exactly does Community Voice Mail Work? Working with a CVM provider (available in select cities), you are given an instruction card and a touch-tone phone to use. You dial in. Record a simple greeting. Create a secure password. That's it! You can check messages from any touch tone phone: pay phones, social service agencies, or the homes of friends and family. Community Voice Mail can turn a job search into job acceptance; help an apartment application become a place to live; and keep parents connected to teachers, doctors, friends and family.
At this time CVM is available in 39 cities throughout the United States, with more sites on the way. To learn more or to find out if CVM is available in your area, visit www.cvm.org.
As issued by Justice for All, a service of the American Association of People with Disabilities
Medicare is phasing in a rule that is restricting access to intensive inpatient rehabilitation services for many individuals with disabilities, injuries, or chronic conditions who need these services. Without access to an appropriate level of rehabilitative care, many of these individuals will wind up in nursing homes to receive a lesser level of care, which often impedes or completely prevents independence and a return to home and community!
Medicare's so called "75% Rule" is restricting access to inpatient rehabilitation care by requiring inpatient rehab hospitals or units to treat a particular percentage of patients with one or more of 13 specified medical conditions. In other words, even if a physician finds it medically necessary for an individual to receive inpatient rehabilitative care, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital or unit may have to deny that individual access if they do not have the "right" diagnosis.
Stopgap legislation has been introduced in both the Senate and House (S. 543/H.R. 1459) that would prevent this Medicare rule from going into effect. Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor the "Preserving Patient Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals Act of 2007" (S. 543, H.R. 1459). Particular attention should be given to contacting Members who have supported MiCASSA, Community Choice Act, and similar versions of this legislation in previous Congresses as well as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee. The initial target list includes the following: Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Call your Senators and Representatives toll-free via the capitol switchboard at 1-888-281-0661. Or go to www.congress.org and enter in your zip code to determine your Representatives and Senators.
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force and the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) have issued their 5th biennial "Priced Out" report, which analyzes the gap between SSI incomes and fair market rent for modest 1-bedroom and/or efficiency apartments. The 2006 report shows that the crisis has worsened for those individuals with disabilities on a fixed income:
These statistics once again confirm that people with disabilities continue to be priced out of the housing market. To read the report in its entirety, visit the Technical Assistance Collaborative on-line at www.tacinc.org/Docs/HH/PricedOutIn2006.pdf.
In their report, 2007 Case for Inclusion, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) uncovers which states offer superior Medicaid Services to individuals with developmental disabilities and which offer sub-par services. More importantly however, the report reveals that all states could do more to improve their Medicaid services and therefore the independence, productivity and satisfaction of those with developmental disabilities. Despite the landmark Olmstead decision, which requires states to provide alternatives to institutional care, large amounts of dollars continue to fund institutional facilities rather than small, community-based facilities. Nationally, more than 33 percent of all Medicaid funding is spent on the 19 percent of those living in large institutions. At the same time, waiting lists for community-based services far exceed many states' program capacities.
Leading the pack in meeting the needs of Medicaid recipients with developmental disabilities are Arizona, Alaska and Vermont. While those rounding out the bottom include Mississippi, Texas and the District of Columbia. With diversity in size, state budgets,and tax base, the report clearly shows that it is not the makeup of the state that dictates success, but how the state uses its resources in serving this population.
To read the report in its entirety, you may view the report on the UCP website at www.ucp.org/uploads/Case_For_Inclusion_Report_2007.pdf.
A coalition of 33 patient advocacy groups sent a letter to Congress April 11, 2007 asking lawmakers to eliminate the two-year waiting period for Americans with severe disabilities for their Medicare coverage to begin. The letter was sent to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the committee's ranking minority member, Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), and two other committee members, Sens. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), and to House leaders.
In a press release, the Medicare Rights Center, a Medicare consumer assistance organization, said that approximately 600,000 Americans with severe and debilitating disabilities have no insurance and go without health care or into debt while waiting the required two years for their Medicare coverage to begin. More startling however is that 12% percent of those will die each year while waiting for coverage to begin.
In an effort to document this problem, the Medicare Rights Center has issued a report chronicalling the experiences of 21 disabled individuals who were waiting to receive Medicare benefits. This report is available oneline at www.medicarerights.org/Too_Sick_To_Work_Too_Soon_For_Medicare.pdf.
The Eye Care Center at the Southern California College of Optometry announces the “Call for Artists” for “Shared Visions 2007-2008”, the third annual juried art exhibit by artists who are blind or legally blind. Works selected will be exhibited in the Eye Care Center for a period of one year. The deadline for entries is May 15, 2007.
For application and information on entering the third annual exhibit, (September 2007- August, 2008), please visit www.scco.edu.
The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technology, "Wireless RERC", at Georgia Tech University has developed a Survey of User Needs to gather suggestions and comments from wireless phone users with disabilities. The purpose of the survey is to learn about how people with disabilities use these products and also why some people with disabilities don't use these products. Survey responses will help develop more user-friendly wireless products for people of all ages and abilities. It is estimated that the survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Visit this survey online at www.wirelessrerc.gatech.edu/survey/coverletter_p2.html
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has launched the Alliance Initiative to advance the employment of people with disabilities. The Alliance Initiative is open to businesses and organizations that are committed to working with the Labor Department in developing model policies, programs and strategies that increase recruiting, hiring, advancing, and retaining workers with disabilities. The Alliance Initiative is open to both public and private-sector organizations.
ODEP's first Alliance Initiative partner is the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world's largest association devoted to human resource management. SHRM and ODEP have made a commitment to work together to encourage and promote the employment of people with disabilities.
To learn more about how you may become involved in the Initiative, visit www.dol.gov/odep/alliances/index.htm or contact ODEP's Alliance manager at ODEPAlliance@dol.gov.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released their Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. It provides information on the five general categories of disabilities: mobility impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, speech impairments, and cognitive impairments. It also outlines the four elements of evacuation information that occupants need: notification, way finding, use of the way, and assistance. The Guide features a checklist that building services managers and people with disabilities can use to design a personalized evacuation plan. This guide is available on the NFPA website by visiting www.nfpa.org/evacuationguide.
Have you ever visited a national park? Would you like to do so? Would you like to assure that the parks are accessible to you, AND your great grandchildren? Then take a few minutes to provide feedback to the NPS, so they know how to make the parks more accessible to you...
The National Park Service will celebrate its' centennial in 2016, and is initiating a nation-wide campaign to listen to the public about the future of the parks. It is imperative that persons with hearing, visual, cognitive, and mobility disabilities express their concerns and ideas about programmatic and physical access at National Park Service areas. To share your comments, use the Comment Form on the Park Service website. Comments must be received by April 22, 2007 for consideration. For more information on the Centennial Initiative visit www.nps.gov/2016.
A new human rights treaty that would protect the rights of the world's 650 million persons with disabilities will be opened for signature at the United Nations on March 30, 2007. Over 40 countries have already indicated that they will sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention demands real change through effective legislation and a shift in attitude. It sets out minimum measures to respect basic human dignity, as well as longer-term goals to achieve full integration. It covers rights such as equality, non-discrimination and equal recognition before the law; liberty and security of the person; accessibility, personal mobility and independent living; right to health, work and education; and participation in political and cultural life. For more information, visit the United Nations Enable website at www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/.
Through Deaf Eyes, a two-hour PBS documentary that premiered March 21, 2007, explores almost 200 years of American history: the experience of the Deaf community in the United States from 1814 to the present. The program aligns the broad sweep of U.S. history with the experiences of deaf people, showing how major social, economic, medical, and technological shifts in America have changed deaf lives. It is propelled by the stories of people, both eminent and ordinary, and conveys a broad range of perspectives on what it means to be deaf. To learn about future showings, visit PBS online at www.pbs.org. To order a copy of the film, visit the production company, Hott Productions, website at www.florentinefilms.org.
Source: American Association of People with Disabilities
The Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) has asked AAPD to help ensure that depictions of persons with intellectual disabilities in TV shows and in movies are not stereotypical or patronizing. They have asked AAPD to collect any personal stories you may be able to share with EIC that relate to any of the numerous issues surrounding intellectual disabilities. For example, they want to know about family, health care, legal, diagnostic, developmental concerns, so that they can share actual stories (similar to case studies) with Hollywood writers and producers, with the hope that true-life stories will inspire fictional depictions.
If you would like to participate, please write up a "case study" and send it to AAPD. Just write up the details (the who-what-when-where-why) and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can. Maybe your true story of some outrageous comment or event will change how the world thinks about intellectual disability.
As it stands now, people with severe disabilities who apply for Social Security disability benefits or for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may wait many months for an eligibility decision. Even worse, if one must appeal an unfavorable decision, one may wait years to receive benefits that they had been entitled to all along. Such long waits have been catastrophic for many families, resulting in the loss of homes and an inability to pay for necessary medications and care.
Why such long waits? Inadequate funding! The President's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2008 indicates that average waiting times will continue to grow, even if the Social Security Administration (SSA) is funded at the level of his request ($9.6 billion). According to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, $10.44 billion, nearly $1 billion more than the budgeted amount, is needed to simply sustain the administration.
The House and Senate Budget Committees will mark up their Budget Resolutions in early to mid March. Please write your Senators and House Member and let them know how inadequate funding could impact your neighbors with disabilities. To locate your elected officials, visit the House of Representatives online at www.house.gov/ and the United States Senate at www.senate.gov/.
The White House Internship Program offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the daily operations of the White House. In addition to normal office duties, interns attend weekly lectures, volunteer at special events, participate in tours, and contribute to a community service project in the Washington, D.C. area. White House Internships are unpaid positions and participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation and housing. Approximately 100 interns are chosen each spring, summer, and fall to participate in this highly competitive program. To qualify, interns must be:
Come discuss how to improve access to public transit at the 2007 National Youth Transit Talk. The Talk will be held July 27-28, 2007 in Washington, DC. Young leaders (ages 16 to 28) with disabilities will have a chance to network with national leaders and public officials, and other active young leaders from across the country. Covered costs will include airfare, hotel lodging, and meals! The application deadline is March 1, 2007. Young Leaders will be chosen and notified by April 15, 2007. For more information, visit www.cilberkeley.org/youthtalk/index.html.
Source: Steve Gold - E-mail: email@example.com - Web: www.stevegoldada.com
Section 6086 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 offers States a new opportunity to provide a full (or partial) range of community-based services for seniors and people with disabilities. Beginning now, January, 2007, States can use this new statutory provision without applying for a Medicaid waiver.
Here are some important aspects of Section 6086:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced the first round of states, 17 in all, that have been chosen to receive Money Follows the Person Demonstration Grants: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin. It is now up to these states to formalize their plans for final approval by CMS. Upon final approval, these states will receive more than $23 million in grants for FY 07 and up to $900 million over 5 years for demonstration programs that will provide a greater range of choices for individuals needing long term care and will offer a full range of home- and community-based services.
States that were not initially chosen do have an opportunity to revise their proposals for further consideration by CMS. There will be a second round of awards in March for those states that submit revisions.
The National Organization on Disability (NOD), via their sixth annual Accessible America Contest, has announced that Berkeley, California and Chicago, Illinois, have been chosen as the most disability-friendly cities. Both cities serve as models for innovative programs to promote community inclusion of people with disabilities. Among Berkely's achievements are the nation's first universally designed affordable housing developmen, a comprehensive transportation program, an outstanding emergency preparedness plan for people with disabilities, and a self-imposed tax to fund some of their disability services. Chicago was recognized for requiring adaptable and "visitable" features in privately and governmentally funded units, the creation of a Mayoral Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities, and a certification program for business enterprises owned and operated by people with disabilities.
Other notable cities include: Alexandria, Virginia, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana,Louisville, Kentucky, Miami Beach, Florida, New Haven, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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