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November 26, 2014

AUCD2014 Transcripts Available - AUCD
Transcripts from AUCD's three 2014 Conference plenary sessions are now available! Read and remember the information provided and insightful thoughts shared by speakers such as Shankar Vedantam, Emily Ladau, Judy Woodruff, Melody Musgrove, Kathy Greenlee, Portia Wu, Senator Tom Harkin, and more! (Videos yet to come.)
November 25, 2014

States Ranked On Court Accessibility - DisabiltyScoop
A new ranking finds that access to the courts for people with disabilities varies significantly from one state to the next.

Teens Get Community Service In Ice Bucket Case - DisabiltyScoop
Three teens who dumped urine, tobacco and spit on a 15-year-old with autism who thought he was participating in the "ice bucket challenge" have been ordered to do community service.

Disney Facing More ADA Suits - DisabiltyScoop
A battle over disability access at Disney theme parks has been renewed, with more than two dozen separate claims filed against the entertainment company.

10 new "SWIFT in 60" Mini-films Showing Inclusive Educational Practices (IOD NH UCEDD) - AUCD
IOD Filmmaker Dan Habib just completed 10 mini-films for the SWIFT Center that show what inclusive school transformation looks like in five trailblazing schools across the country.

Position Opening: Assistant Virtual Trainee - AUCD
AUCD is recruiting for a new position: Assistant Virtual Trainee. With AUCD member programs in every US state and territory as well as internationally, our trainees exist all across the world, and more support is needed! The Assistant Virtual Trainee will assist the current Virtual Trainee to continue to build a virtual network among these trainees at AUCD member programs. The Assistant Virtual Trainee will also be mentored by the Virtual Trainee to help them learn more about the AUCD Network, national issues, and trainee network. Deadline: December 19
November 24, 2014

AUCD 2014 Awards Presented to Outstanding Individuals - AUCD
18 awards were presented to network members and friends at the 2014 AUCD Conference. AUCD is incredibly proud to recognize those who have made exceptional contributions to the lives of people with disabilities and their families.

USAID Gives $2.2 Million to UCP Wheels for Humanity - UPC
UCP Wheels for Humanity (UCP Wheels), a subsidiary of United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties, has received a $2.2 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and JSI Research & Training Institute to support …
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New Mexico To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 15

November 24, 2014

New Mexicohas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

The goal of the new requirements, according to the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) "is to serve an eligible recipient in his or her community as an alternative to him or her being institutionalized."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal through December 15. Further information is available at the HSD websiteHERE.

To comment on the proposal, send written comments to Cecilia Salazar, Human Services Department, Medical Assistance Division, Program Policy & Integrity Bureau, P.O. Box 2348, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504. Emails may be directed to: Cecelia.Salazar@state.nm.us

Recorded messages may be left at (505) 827-7743 or toll free at (888) 997-2583, asking for extension 7-7743.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled to be held at the Toney Anaya Building, in the Rio Grande Room, in Santa Feon December 15 at11 a.m.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.New Mexicohas proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

New Mexicois now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Kansas To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 10

November 24, 2014

Kansas has proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

The Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) has proposed a series of changes to comply with the new directive and has set a December 10 deadline for public comments.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal through December 10. Further information is available at the KDADS websiteHERE.

To submit comments:

  • By Phone: 785-296-4986 or 785-296-3473
  • By Email: HCBS-KS@kdads.ks.gov – Subject: HCBS Renewals Public Comments
  • By Mail: KDADS, Attn: HCBS Programs, 503 S. Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS 66603
  • By Fax: 785-296-0256, Attn: HCBS Programs

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid. Kansas has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Kansas is now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Alabama To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 5

November 24, 2014

Alabamahas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

The goal of the new requirements, according to theAlabama Department of Mental Health, is to focus on the quality of anindividual's experiences; maximize access to community living and the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting; and to set quality standards for home- and community-based settings.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal through December 5. Further information is available at the Alabama Department of Mental HealthHERE.

To submit written comments, send them by email to Daphne D. Rosalis at:daphne.rosalis@mh.alabama.gov

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Alabama has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Alabamais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. to hold 59th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner & Resource Fair - PRNewswire

BALTIMORE, Nov. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake will hold its 59th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner and Resource Fair on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 from 11:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. at The Baltimore Convention Center. This year over 300 volunteers from...



MV-1 Successfully Achieves Compliance With Latest Federal Safety and Crash Test Requirements - PRNewswire
SOUTH BEND, Ind., Nov. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mobility Ventures LLC, designer and manufacturer of the MV-1 -- the only American-made vehicle that is purpose-built with the wheelchair user in mind -- has successfully completed an updated series of crash tests on the MV-1 that are...

Senate Unlikely To Reconsider UN Disability Treaty - DisabiltyScoop
There is not enough support in the U.S. Senate to warrant another vote on ratification of an international disability rights treaty, according to one of the measure's chief backers.
November 21, 2014

Claims Deadline Approaches in Historic Class Action Settlements - PRNewswire

TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - On November 30th, the claims deadline will expire in the precedent setting class action settlements concerning the Huronia, Rideau and Southwestern Regional Centres. These three class actions settled for $67.7 million in 2013, the largest settlement in...



Drs. Goudie and Marshall named Chief Medical Officers for Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - PRNewswire

OTTAWA, Nov. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Paralympic Committee is pleased to announce the appointments of Dr. Richard Goudie (Barrie, Ont.) as Chief Medical Officer and Dr. Andrew Marshall (Ottawa, Ont.) as Assistant Chief Medical Officer for Team Canada at the Toronto 2015 Parapan...



Future Uncertain For National Children's Study - DisabiltyScoop
An effort to track the health of 100,000 kids from birth to adulthood may stop before its official start in a potential setback for those looking for answers on autism and other disorders.

Lorri Unumb Honored by Professional Women in Advocacy - Autism Speaks - Advocasy
November 21, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC -- Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs, was honored for Excellence in a State Issue Campaignat the annual Professional Women in Advocacy conference held here. National Grassroots Advocacy Director Shelley Hendrix was one of three finalists forExcellence In A Campaign For WomenServing Women.

Over 180 women were nominated in five categories for the annual awards which included finalists from organizations such as AARP, Google, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the ASPCA, MADD and other groups. Autism Speaks captured three of the nominations, with Shelley Hendrix nominated in two categories.

Lorri Unumb, an attorney based in Lexington, SC, led the fight for Ryan's Law, named after her son with autism, in 2006 in South Carolina to require coverage of autism therapies by private insurers. She later joined Autism Speaks and has helped manage similar successful campaigns in 34 other states.

She has broadened her work to advocate with employers who self-fund their health plans to voluntarily add autism coverage. Approximatelyone-third of self-funded employers now voluntarily provide autism coverage, often acting after their home states enacts lawsrequiring coverage by fully funded health plans.

Hendrix was a finalist for the Excellence in a Campaign For Women Serving Women, "an effort wherein women advocate(s) successfully impacted the outcome of a problem or opportunity on behalf of other women."Hendrix has built and mobilized Autism Speaks' grassroots "army" of advocatesthat has played a prominent role in the enactment of state autism reform laws and which turned the tide in Congress in 2011 when the Combating Autism Act was reauthorized.

PWIA provides professional development and leadership training to women in all areas of advocacy, including federal, state and local government relations, public affairs, community relations, public policy, legislation, Congressional relations, community activism, political engagement and campaigns.


#AUCD2014: Please take a moment to complete the 2014 conference survey - AUCD
Thank you all for an amazing and energizing AUCD 2014 Conference! If you haven't already, please take a moment to complete the 2014 conference survey and tell us what you loved, what you could do without, and how we can continue to improve and build on this year's conference.

NCD Releases Annual Progress Report on National Disability Policy - AUCD
The National Council on Disability (NCD) has released the 2014 edition of National Disability Policy: A Progress Report. The 2014 Progress Report focuses on seven key areas: the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), employment access and inclusion, subminimum wage, education outcomes, Medicaid managed care, mental health care, and data trends in disability policy. The report provides policy recommendations in each area with the goal of promoting a more inclusive environment.
November 20, 2014

Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Advocates And Theatre Owners To Hold Joint Press Conference Regarding Proposed Rulemaking On Movie Theater Captioning - PRNewswire
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by National Association of Theatre Owners: WHEN:  21 November 2014, 10:00 A.M. Eastern WHERE:  The National Press...

ReadSpeaker Launches New Version of ReadSpeaker TextAid - PRNewswire
UPPSALA, Sweden, November 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- ReadSpeaker is excited to announce the latest version of ReadSpeaker TextAid, with a fully redesigned user interface and an updated list of user-friendly features. The user interface - available in four languages with more to come - has...

Seinfeld Now Says He Doesn't Have Autism - DisabiltyScoop
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is backing off comments he made earlier this month suggesting that he may be on the autism spectrum.

ReadSpeaker startet neue Version von ReadSpeaker TextAid - PRNewswire
UPPSALA, Schweden, November 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Der persönliche Online-Reader für Schüler und Studierende umfasst jetzt neue Text- und Dokumentenbibliotheksfunktionen.  ReadSpeaker freut sich, die neueste Version von ReadSpeaker TextAid mit vollständig neu...

ReadSpeaker lanserar ny version av ReadSpeaker TextAid - PRNewswire
UPPSALA, Sverige, November 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- I den internetbaserade personliga läsaren för studenter ingår nu nya biblioteksfunktioner för texter och dokument.  ReadSpeaker har glädjen att presentera den senaste versionen av ReadSpeaker TextAid med...

ReadSpeaker lanceert nieuwe versie van ReadSpeaker TextAid - PRNewswire
UPPSALA, Zweden, November 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- De online personal reader voor studenten bevat nu nieuwe tekst- en documentbibliotheekmogelijkheden.  ReadSpeaker is verheugd om de nieuwste versie van ReadSpeaker TextAid aan te kondigen met een volledig vernieuwde...

Vote Planned On Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts - DisabiltyScoop
With little time to spare, a vote will happen this year on a bill that would allow people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their benefits, a key member of Congress says.
November 19, 2014

HelpMeSee Welcomes Matt Kupec As Vice President Of Development And Marketing - PRNewswire

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- HelpMeSee, a global campaign to eliminate blindness caused by treatable cataract, announces that Matt Kupec has been appointed Vice President of Development and Marketing.  Kupec, a veteran fundraiser, comes to HelpMeSee...



Special Olympics Narrows Health Gap Faced by People with Intellectual Disabilities - PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Special Olympics released data today outlining the results of its successful two-year old Healthy Communities initiative and announced that it will expand the program from 14 to 100 sites by 2025. Healthy Communities provides...



Integral Senior Living Encourages Families to Take Stock of Aging Loved Ones During Holiday Visits - PRNewswire

CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Integral Senior Living (ISL), a senior residence management company, encourages families, during holiday visits with aging loved ones, to check on their health, discuss their senior care and review their important documents. Reuniting at the...



Otologic Pharmaceutics (OPI) Initiates Phase 1 Clinical Study of HNPN-1010 for Hearing Disorders - PRNewswire

OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Otologic Pharmaceutics, Inc. (OPI) announced today the initiation of clinical testing of NHPN-1010, its lead product candidate for the treatment of acute sensorineural hearing loss. OPI is a development-stage biopharmaceutical company committed...



Easter Seals Expands Mentorship Program for Young Women with Disabilities to Digital Audiences - PRNewswire

CHICAGO, Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Easter Seals is bringing young women with disabilities together through the national expansion of the Thrive program.  Women across the country will now have digital access to the Massachusetts-based program, Easter Seals...



Toymaker Wants Playtime To Be More Inclusive - DisabiltyScoop
The maker of childhood classics like Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh and Connect 4 is looking to ensure that kids with developmental disabilities know how to engage with its toys too.

Possibility unbound: 25 years of progress for those with disability - CSMonitor.com - AUCD
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities act - which turns 25 next year - and a demanding and aging baby boom generation, the nation has fewer limits for those with physical impairments.

Kentucky To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 5

November 19, 2014

Kentuckyhas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

The goal of the new requirements, according to theKentucky Department of Human Services, "is to facilitate the integration and access of waiver participants into the greater community, including opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources, and receive services in the community, to the same degree as individuals not receiving Medicaid HCBS."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal through December 5.Further information is available at the Kentucky Departmentfor Medicaid Services HERE.

To submit written comments, send them by email to CMSfinalHCBRule@ky.gov, or by post mail to:
Department for Medicaid Services
HCB Final Rule Statewide Transition Plan
Commissioners Office
275 E. Main Street, 6W-A
Frankfort, Kentucky 40621

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Kentucky has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Kentuckyis now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

LALA Volverá a Donar a TeletónUSA por Transmisión Televisiva en Vivo - PRNewswire
DALLAS, 18 de noviembre del 2014 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- LALA, una de las principales empresas de productos lácteos en Estados Unidos y Latino América, hará entrega de una donación a TeletónUSA durante su transmisión en vivo el 12 y 13 de...
November 18, 2014

LALA to Donate Again to TeletonUSA During Live Broadcast - PRNewswire
DALLAS, Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- LALA, one of the largest dairy products companies in the US and Latin America, will present a check to TeletonUSA during their live fundraising telecast to air December 12 and 13 on Spanish-language television station Univision. LALA and...

Juventas Therapeutics Presents Phase II Data at AHA Scientific Sessions That Shows JVS-100 is Safe, Potentially Effective in Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia - PRNewswire

CLEVELAND, Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Juventas Therapeutics Inc., a privately-held, clinical-stage company developing novel therapies for treatment of cardiovascular disease, had clinical data presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2014 that show...



Clock Ticking On Plan For Disability Savings Accounts - DisabiltyScoop
Advocates are pushing Congress to act before the end of the year on a bill that would allow people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits.

Pope Looks To Destigmatize Autism - DisabiltyScoop
For the first time, Pope Francis is set to meet with individuals with autism and their families during an international conference on the developmental disorder.

Duct-Taped Teen Receives Apology - DisabiltyScoop
More than a month after a teen with autism was duct-taped to a goalpost and abandoned, those involved in the incident have apologized.

Minnesota To End Medicaid Waivers That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 17

November 18, 2014

Minnesota has proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

"This plan shows how Minnesota will comply with new federal rules for Medical Assistance home and community-based services for people with disabilities and older adults," according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS)."

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and DHS designed the new rules so people receiving home and community-based services have full access to the benefits of community living (and) opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal through December 17. Feedback can be submitted by email toHCBS.Settings@state.mn.us. An explanatory video can be viewed HERE.

To better understand the state's response to the federal Medicaid directive,DHS has created a webpage HERE.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Minnesota has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Minnesotais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?


Art Guild and Independent Living Center Give Veterans with Disabilities Freedom to Express Artistic Talents - PRNewswire

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- California has the highest number of veterans of any state in the nation with more than 2 million military veterans calling the Golden State home. Many of these veterans return home with "service-connected" disabilities, particularly...



Autism Speaks Honors The Nation's Top Advocates For 2014 - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Georgia's Anna and Ava Bullard win the Speak Out Award

November 17, 2014

NASHVILLE, TN -- Autism Speaks announced its 2014 advocacy awards at the 6th annual Autism Law Summit held here, presenting the Speak Out Award to Anna Bullard and her daughter Ava from Georgia. The awards are presented at the annual conference to honor those individuals and groups whose advocacy on behalf of people with autism stood out during the year.

The Speak Out Award is presented on behalf of Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright to individuals who have gone above and beyond to promote Autism Speaks and its mission in the media. Anna Bullard (pictured right with Autism Speaks State Government Affairs Directors Judith Ursitti and Mike Wasmer) was honored this year with her daughter Ava, who has autism,for their efforts to get autism insurance reform passed in Georgia.

"You are receiving this award in recognition of your role in raising awareness of the need for autism insurance reform in media outlets across Georgia and your powerful video about your daughter, Ava, and her journey with autism," the Wrights said in their award letter. "The impact of your advocacy efforts and creativity of your video demonstrate a true commitment to spreading autism awareness and understanding to others."

More than 180 advocates from 38 states came to Nashville to attend the two-day summit. The conference addressed the latest developments with autism insurance reform campaigns, legal challenges, Medicaid changes, the Affordable Care Act, military families and adult services. During the conference, Washington was named the 38th state to enact autism insurance reform.

The Utah Autism Coalition, represented by President Jon Owen [center] and past Vice President Christine Passey, were honored as the advocacy group of the year. Working with state Senator Brian Shiozawa, the Coalition helped make Utah the 35th state to enact autism insurance reform in April. Passey went on to win election to the Utah House of Representatives.

The 2012 Autism Law Summit was hosted in Salt Lake City to help build the campaign that led to enactment of the bill.

Nebraska became the 36th state to enact reform on April 21 when legislation sponsored by Sen. Colby Coash was signed into law by Gov. Dave Heineman. Nebraska moms Vicky Depenbusch, Colleen Jankovich, Maria Lepinski and Cathy Martinez were honored as the Parent Advocates of the Year.

Sandi Marcus and Melissa Solares of Georgia were honored as the Grassroots Advocates of the Year for their efforts to organize families across Georgia in support of autism insurance reform legislation.

Melissa [center] and Sandi [right] were honored by National Grassroots Advocacy Director Shelley Hendrix for buildingan organization that will push the Georgia legislature to expand coverage from state employees to private health plans in 2015.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones was namedExecutive Championfor his strong advocacy on behalf of families with autism. In April, Jones cited California's Mental Health Parity Act in ordering private insurers to stop delaying and denying claims for autism treatment.

Kristin Jacobson [right], who leads California's Autism Deserves Equal Coverage, was presented a new award for her efforts to improve treatment for people with autism. Kristin helped spearhead efforts that made California the first state in the nation to respond to a July federal directive to the states to cover autism treatment through their Medicaid programs.

The Attorney of the Year was awarded to Cheryl Krause, a founding member of the Autism Speaks Legal Resource Center who was named earlier this to the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Krause wrote a friend-of-the-court brief for Autism Speaks submitted in Burke v Independence Blue Cross regarding an insurance denial for autism coverage. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided for the family.

Gina Green, PhD, BCBA-D, a founding Director of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts, was honored as Provider of the Year. (Green [center] with Autism Speaks Vice President for State Government Affairs Lorri Unumb [left] and Judith Ursitti)

Judith Ursitti,who presented the award, said after her son Jack was diagnosed with autism, "I didn't know what to, so I bought a book. It was hers. Since then, so many of us have had the privilege of working alongside her."

An award was presented by Mike Wasmer to his fellow Kansan Jennifer Smith for her work as a parent advocate earlier this year in the successful enactment of legislation expanding Kansas' 2010 autism insurance reform law. The original law was limited to state employees and expanded in 2014 to cover private health plans.

The"Battle Hamster" award, presented to an advocate for their persistence in taking on autism insurance issues was presented to Paul Terdal of Oregon. Terdal [pictured (left) with Dan and Lorri Unumb]played a prominent role in the enactment of the state's 2013 autism insurance reform law, then pursued followup work with state regulators to strengthen and accelerate the coverage.

Last Friday, his efforts bore fruit when Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali directed the state's insurers to step up their coverage of autism treatment to comply with the state's Mental Health Parity Act.

November 17, 2014

Leading Public Safety Orgs React with Anger, Offer Alternatives to Secret Carrier Deal on 9-1-1 Location - PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than a dozen of the nation's leading public safety advocates and organizations reacted with anger and alternative approaches to a carrier-backed proposal announced on Friday that would replace the FCC's proposed public safety rules...



States Cracking Down On Accessible Parking Abuse - DisabiltyScoop
Stiffer penalties and stepped up enforcement are among the measures states are taking to help ensure that accessible parking spaces are available for those who truly need them.
November 15, 2014

Washington Becomes State #38 To Require Autism Benefits - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Legal settlements plus state order equals autism insurance reform

November 15, 2014

NASHVILLE, TN -- Autism Speaks welcomed Washingtonas the 38th state to enact autism insurance reform during the 6th annualAutism Law Summit held here today. Washington became the first state torequire private insurers to cover medicallynecessary treatment of autism through litigation; the previous 37 states enacted specificinsurance reform laws.

The Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy (WAAA) teamed up with Seattle attorney Eleanor Hamburger in pursuing a series of successful state and federal class action lawsuits against Washington's major insurance carriers as well as the state employees health benefit plan.

WAAA Founder Arzu Forough [left] and staff attorney Mira Posner celebrate in Nashville

The most recent case, OST v Regence, led to a unanimous state Supreme Court rulingdirecting Regence Blue Shield, the state's largest private insurer to stop enforcing blanket exclusions for medically necessary mental health coverage, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism. Hamburger within days then announced she had reached a settlement with Regence of state and federal class action suits.

The proposed settlement would require coverage for medically necessary speech, occupational and physical therapies and ABA therapy to treat mental health conditions, including autism. Exclusions, age limits, monetary caps and visit limits would all be prohibited. A $6 million settlement fund would be established by Regence to reimburse policyholders whose previous claims for autism coverage were denied.

The Supreme Court decision then promptedstate Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidlerto direct all state-regulated private healthplans toprovide coverage in 2015 and to reconsider all claims denied since 2006 on the basis of ablanket exclusion.The order also covers new health plans sold through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state's Marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.

The state and federal class actions were all brought on the basis that the blanket exclusions violatestate and federal mental health parity law.

"We've always known that this was the law," said Forough, who has two sons on the autism spectrum. "It's been really gratifying watching these cases over the lastsix yearsclarify the law. But what really brings me joy is all the families who will not even know where this benefit came from. It will just be there."

The series of class action lawsuits began when Forough, as a state employee, sued the Washington Health Care Authority for denying her sons' needed autism treatment. Through WAAA, Forough then helped assemble plaintiffs for successful class actions brought by Hamburger against Regence, Premera Blue Cross and Group Health Cooperative. Earlier this year, a federal class action was brought against Boeing in a case that will involve self-insured, or so-called ERISA, employers.

In his letter to insurers issued last month, Kreidler directed that claims for medically necessary services could no longer be denied on the basis of blanket or categorical exclusions. If current insurance contracts do contain exclusions, then policyholders must be notified of the "correct coverage standard." Health plans to be issued in 2015 will be reviewed for compliance.

“With this settlement and the recent (state) Supreme Court decision, the standard for coverage in Washington state is clearly established,” said Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger.

During the law summit, the Washington state representatives celebrated with advocates from Utah and Nebraska, which also enacted reform laws in 2014. Kansas and Maine were also honored for expanding their original autism insurance reform laws.

November 14, 2014

Minorities Often Skipped In Autism Identification - DisabiltyScoop
The number of schoolchildren with autism has increased nationwide in recent years, but a new study suggests that some kids are still being overlooked.

Teen Lands Venture Capital For Accessibility Device - DisabiltyScoop
A 13-year-old has become the world's youngest tech entrepreneur to receive venture capital, all for a device he designed to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.

Rising Tide Car Wash COO Tom D'Eri, 25, Selected by Miami Herald as a '20 Under 40' Emerging South Florida Leader - PRNewswire

PARKLAND, Fla., Nov. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- At the young age of 25, Rising Tide Car Wash COO Tom D'Eri is already leading the social entrepreneurship movement. His dedication to empowering young adults with autism and inspiring communities to change their perception of their...


November 13, 2014

Canadian Paralympic Committee congratulates Sochi 2014 flag bearer and para-alpine ski champion Josh Dueck on career - PRNewswire

OTTAWA, Nov. 13, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Paralympic Committee is proud to congratulate three-time Paralympic medallist Josh Dueck (Kimberley, B.C), a champion and trailblazer in para-alpine skiing, who announced his retirement earlier today. Dueck won gold and silver medals at the...



18th Annual Best Buddies Miami Gala: Southeast Asia - PRNewswire

MIAMI, Nov. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Best Buddies International, a groundbreaking nonprofit founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership...



ADA 25th Anniversary Legacy Tour Stops at Bay Area Abilities Expo, November 21-23 - PRNewswire

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- To commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the historic passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA25), the long-anticipated ADA Legacy Tour will make a stop at Abilities Expo Bay Area on November 21-23, 2014 at the San...



The SaludArte Foundation, Mercantil Commercebank And Brilla Capital Join To Present Innovative Classical Performance Series - PRNewswire

CORAL GABLES, Fla., Nov. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In a strong commitment to support Miami's burgeoning fine arts sector, a group of organizations have joined to present an innovative series of classical music concerts and performances. The groundbreaking program, "LiVE,"...



Schools Must Offer Communication Supports, Feds Say - DisabiltyScoop
The Obama administration is reminding schools of their wide-ranging responsibilities to students with disabilities who struggle with speech and other communication difficulties.
November 12, 2014

Accessible-Housing Nonprofit Ramps Up with $10K Partnership Grant from Frost Bank and FHLB Dallas - PRNewswire

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Please join representatives from Frost Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) at 11:00 a.m., November 13, 2014, at the ADAPT office, 1640-A E. 2nd Street, Austin, as they present a $10,000 Partnership Grant...



Family of Rasheen Rose Sues NYS Agency for Contempt of Court - PRNewswire
BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Shaniece Luke, the sister of Rasheen Rose, a severely autistic man who died while under NY State care*, has filed a contempt of court lawsuit in Federal Court against the NYS Office of People With Developmental Disabilities...

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. to hold 59th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner & Resource Fair - PRNewswire

BALTIMORE, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake will hold its 59th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner and Resource Fair on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 from 11:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center. This year over 300 volunteers...



Increasingly, Dentists Tailoring Care For Kids With Special Needs - DisabiltyScoop
Dentists often rely on restraint and sedation to treat kids with disabilities, but with the right approach, these children are learning the skills to be treated just like other patients.

U.S. Census Bureau Daily Feature for November 12 - PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following is the daily "Profile America" feature from the U.S. Census Bureau: NATIONAL FAMILY CAREGIVERS MONTH Profile America — Wednesday, November 12th. November is National Family Caregivers Month, honoring the great number...


November 11, 2014

Photo Release / Flash quote: Paralympians lay wreaths across Canada for Remembrance Day - PRNewswire

OTTAWA, Nov. 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Some of Canada's most accomplished Paralympic athletes paid their respects to Canada's veterans in Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country this morning, laying wreaths in ceremonies in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and...



The Best in Disability Advertising Awarded to Duracell at ANA Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference - PRNewswire

Duracell and Creative Team Saatchi & Saatchi Announced as Winner of the First Ever ANA Multicultural Excellence Award in the People with Disabilities category TORONTO, Nov. 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Monday evening, at its Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference in Miami, FL., the...



Claim: Special Education Student ‘Caged' In Class - DisabiltyScoop
A 7-year-old with intellectual disability was allegedly locked in a makeshift cage at school by her first-grade teacher.

Bath And Body Works Apologizes For Disability Snub - DisabiltyScoop
A field trip to the mall went south when teachers say an employee at Bath and Body Works refused to allow their group of students with special needs to enter the store.

Families Dealt Setback In ADA Suit Against Disney - DisabiltyScoop
A federal lawsuit challenging broad changes to Disney's theme park access policy for people with disabilities has hit a roadblock.
November 10, 2014

Affordable Housing Program Grant to Help 14 Low-Income Borrowers with Disabilities Achieve Homeownership - PRNewswire

JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies in Hattiesburg has received a $147,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) through its member institution, BankPlus. The organization...



Mobility Ventures' MV-1 Accommodates Two Wheelchair Users at Once Providing The 'Solution for Inclusion' for Government Fleets, For-Hire Operators and Families - PRNewswire

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Mobility Ventures MV-1 is in a class of its own as being recognized as the only American made, purpose-built accessible vehicle that has the ability to accommodate two wheelchair users and has passed rigorous highway crash test...



When Disabled Veterans Come Home What Do They Come Home to? - PRNewswire

STATESVILLE, N.C., Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A month before she left the Navy, Janny Romanosky bought a foreclosed home in Greenville, SC that was in bad need of repair. What Romanosky didn't realize was once she left the navy – she too was in bad need of repair. When she...



In Honor of Veteran's Day, Gold Crest Care Center, a Leading Bronx Nursing Home, is Hosting an Annual Awards Ceremony for the Facility's Eleven Decorated Veterans - PRNewswire

BRONX, N.Y., Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of Veterans Day, Gold Crest Care Center, a top NYC Nursing Home, is spotlighting the facility's annual Veterans Day Awards Ceremony for the 11 decorated veterans currently residing at the Bronx nursing home. The event will be held...



Tune in to Hallmark Channel's "Home and Family Veteran's Week" This Week for a Must-see Military Caregiving Series Spotlighting the work of Easter Seals and Elizabeth Dole Foundation - PRNewswire

CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Easter Seals and Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation have created a three-part series for Hallmark "Home and Family" geared toward millions of military caregivers – showing them they are not alone in their...



Tips for Long-Distance Caregivers - PRNewswire

CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every three weeks, Pam McNamara boards a plane and travels to Omaha to visit her parents. Her mom, who suffers from advanced dementia and is confined to a wheelchair, now requires near-constant care. McNamara helps manage her care...



Study Offers Clues To Soaring Autism Rates - DisabiltyScoop
The substantial rise in autism in recent years is primarily, but not entirely, due to changes in how the developmental disorder is defined and reported, a new study suggests.
November 8, 2014

Canadian Paralympic coaches honored at Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala - PRNewswire

OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2014 /CNW/ - Many of Canada's most accomplished Paralympic coaches were honored tonight with Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Awards at the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Awards Gala presented by the Coaching Association of Canada this evening in Ottawa. Receiving the...


November 7, 2014

Jerry Seinfeld: ‘I Think I'm On The Spectrum' - DisabiltyScoop
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld says he believes he may be on the autism spectrum.

Teens Admit To Charges In Ice Bucket Case - DisabiltyScoop
Three teens admitted this week to dumping a bucket containing urine, tobacco and spit on a 15-year-old with autism who thought he was participating in the "ice bucket challenge."

More With Disabilities Finding Jobs - DisabiltyScoop
As the job market shows signs of improvement, statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor suggest people with disabilities are making gains as well.

Five More ERISA Employers Volunteer Autism Coverage In Health Plans - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

ABA, other treatments to be covered for employees

November 07, 2014

NEW YORK -- Autism Speaks has learned of another five employers that will voluntarily offer coverage in their employee health benefit plans for autism treatment, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The companies each offer self-insured plans that are regulated under federal ERISA law and therefore are exempt from autism insurance reform laws enacted in 37 states.

“There's been a huge spike in the number of companies offering coverage,” Lorri Unumb, Autism Speaks' vice president for state government affairs, recently told Workforce.com.

“Employers have been very receptive,” Unumb said. “In the self-funded world, many companies pride themselves on having excellent benefits to stay competitive.”

To help convince your empoyer to cover autism, download our ERISA Tool Kit HERE.

The new employers include:

Bloomberg BNA
Arlington, VA

A wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg, Bloomberg BNA, provideslegal, tax, regulatory, and business information for professionals. It employsmore than 2,500 reporters, correspondents, andpractitioners to provideexpert analysis, news, practice tools, and guidance.

It began in 1929 as the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.

Genentech
South San Francisco

Founded in 1976, Genentech Inc., is abiotechnologycorporationwhich became a subsidiary ofRochein 2009. It employs about 11,146 people and has been inclued on Fortune Magazine's "100 best Companies To Work For" list for 16 years.

Nike
Beaverton, Oregon

Nike, Inc.is amultinational corporation that designs,manufactures and sells footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories and services. With 44,000 employees, Nike isone of the world's largest suppliers ofathletic shoesandapparel.

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR)
Cambridge, MA

With 3,000 employees in Cambridge, NIBR is the global pharmaceutical research organization for Novartis, conducting researchoninnovative medicines to treat disease and improve human health.

T. Rowe Price
Baltimore

Founded in 1937,T.RowePriceis a global investment management organization that was managing$731.2 billion in assetsas of September 30, 2014. With 5,372 employees, theorganizationservesindividual and institutional investors, retirement plans, and financial intermediaries. The company also offers a variety ofinvestment planning and guidance resources.


ND To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Changes effect home- and community-based services

November 07, 2014

North Dakotahas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affectadult residential facilities, adult family foster care, residential habilitation, adult day care and health, and other waiver programs.

"States are required to ensure all HCBS settings comply with the new federal requirements to ensure that all individuals receiving HCBS are integrated in and have full access to their communities, including opportunities to engage in community life, work in integrated environments, and control their own personal resources," according to the North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) which drafted the state's plan.

"While North Dakota is the third least populous state, it has the fastest growing population," according to DHS. "The rapid population growth has placed increased demand on social service and human service systems that are trying to assist individuals who have moved to the State without family supports or adequate housing."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal,through November 14. Feedback can be submitted by:
Email: DHSHCBS@ND.GOV
Phone: (800)-755-2604 or (701)-328-4602
Fax: (701)-328-4875
Mail: ND DHS Medical Services Division, 600 E Boulevard Ave Dept. 325, Bismarck, ND 58505-0250

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.North Dakotahas proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

North Dakotais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

It is important that the state hears directly from you about what you or your loved one with autism needs to live as independently as possible. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Over 570 Employees with Disabilities Settle Discrimination Class Action Against the Social Security Administration - PRNewswire

BALTIMORE, Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has preliminarily approved a class-wide settlement on behalf of a class of over 570 current and former SSA employees with disabilities. The Settlement Agreement provides for...


November 6, 2014

Explorers Club Extends Free Membership To Active Duty Military Personnel And Disabled Veterans - PRNewswire
NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Explorers Club, with members and chapters worldwide, today announced a special program extending free membership to active duty military personnel and those disabled while in active service. In making the announcement, Alan Nichols,...

Innotrac Employees & Clients Support Usher 2020 Foundation - PRNewswire

ATLANTA, Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Innotrac employees and its clients, joined together to raise funds for the Usher 2020 Foundation. The 2nd Annual SmartHub Silent Auction features products from several of Innotrac's retail clients.  Employees have an opportunity to bid on...



United Spinal's VetsFirst Program Honors Our Nation's Military in Recognition of Veterans Day - PRNewswire

NEW YORK, Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association's VetsFirst program thanks all generations of America's veterans for serving us proudly by helping them transition back to their families and communities. Veterans Day is just one day to honor the courageous...



EyeComTec Explains how Medical Eye-Tracker may Bring Alternative Computer Vision and Assistive Technology to the Forefront of Technology - PRNewswire

GENEVA, November 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- This spring EyeComTec (LAZgroup SA) published the original assistive technology complex for those suffering from some form of partial or full paralysis. The eye-tracking based solution helps people with significantly impaired mobility to...



New Program - Magnolia Paws for Compassion - Raises Awareness of the Benefits of Animal Assistance for People With Seizure Disorders - PRNewswire

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Eisai Inc. today announced the launch of Magnolia™ Paws for Compassion™, a new program created to raise awareness of the beneficial impact that animals can have on people living with epilepsy and seizure...



Exceptional Minds Autism Vocational School Learns from Pros at Stargate Studios - PRNewswire

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif., Nov. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Experience is the best teacher. That was among the many lessons learned Monday at the Exceptional Minds vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum, where the pros from Stargate Studios held a seminar on greenscreen...



At Long Last, Athlete With Down Syndrome To Compete - DisabiltyScoop
A man with Down syndrome who sued after allegedly being denied the opportunity to participate in the sport he loves due to his disability is finally getting a chance.

SC To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 4

November 06, 2014

South Carolina ischanging its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect Residential, Day, and Adult Day Health Care centers, and other settings.

"The Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) rule creates a more outcome-oriented definition of home and community-based settings," according to Healthy Connections, the state's Medciaid agency. "It does not just look at location, geography or physical characteristics. It looks at how a person spends their day, where they spend their day and with whom they spend their day. The purpose of the HCBS rule is to enable people to receive services in their home and community, keeping them out of institutions."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can contribute to the state's draft plan,summarized HERE, at a series of public meetings scheduled statewide through December 4. Visit the "Events" page HERE for the full schedule.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.South Carolinahas proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

South Carolinais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

It is important that the state hears directly from you about what you or your loved one with autism needs to live as independently as possible. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Louisiana To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 17

November 06, 2014

Louisianahas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

"The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that individualsreceive Medicaid HCBS in settings that are integrated and support full access to the greater community," according to the state Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD), which developed the plan."This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive and integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources, and receive services in the community, to the same degree as individuals who do not receive HCBS.

"The regulations also aim to ensure that individuals have free choice of where they live and who provides services to them, as well as ensuring that individual rights are not restricted," according to OCDD.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal, summarized HERE, through December 17.Feedback can be submitted by email to: ocdd-hcbs@la.gov.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Louisiana has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Louisianais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

It is important that the state hears directly from you about what you or your loved one with autism needs to live as independently as possible. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Georgia To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through December 5

November 06, 2014

Georgia has proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

"The new rules define settings that are not community-like and cannot be used to provide federally funded home and community based services," according to the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH), which prepared the state's plan. "The purpose of these rules is to ensure that people live in the community and who receive home and community-based waiver services have opportunities to access their community and receive services in the most integrated settings.

"This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive settings, engage in community life, control personal resources and participate in the community just as people who live in the community and do not receive home and community-based services do," DCH continued. "The new rules stress the importance of ensuring that people choose service settings from options and are able to exercise rights and optimize independence."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal, summarized HERE,through December 5.

DCH has scheduled five Town Hall meetings Nov. 13-20; in addition, feedback can be submitted by email to HCBSTransition@dch.ga.gov. The schedule for the Town Halls is HERE.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Georgia has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Georgiais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

It is important that the state hears directly from you about what you or your loved one with autism needs to live as independently as possible.CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

NPR's Shankar Vedantam to Speak at AUCD2014 - AUCD
Shankar Vedantam is a science correspondent for NPR. The focus of his reporting is on human behavior and the social sciences, and how research in those fields can get listeners to think about the news in unusual and interesting ways. Before joining NPR in 2011, Vedantam spent 10 years as a reporter at The Washington Post. From 2007 to 2009, he was also a columnist, and wrote the Department of Human Behavior column for the Post. Vedantam writes an occasional column for Slate called "Hidden Brain."
November 5, 2014

Social Security Administration and Class Action Counsel Announce Major Settlement of Class Action on Behalf of Employees with Targeted Disabilities - PRNewswire

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly a decade after Ronald Jantz, a deaf employee of the Social Security Administration, filed a class action claim against his employer alleging discrimination in promotions of employees with disabilities, the parties today jointly announce...



Training Volunteers to Help Children in Malawi - AUCD
Dr. Amy Hewitt from the Institute on Community Integration UCEDD and LEND at the University of Minnesota recently completed a visit to Africa where she participated in a collaborative training project with Mikala Mukongolwa of the Baulini Project and Dr. Jason Paltzer, Director of the Kingdom Workers Lutheran Health Alliance. The team made stops in Lusaka, Zambia, and Blantyre, Malawi, working with volunteers and families.

Indiana To End Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Public reaction sought through November

November 05, 2014

Indiana has proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

"The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that individuals receive Medicaid HCBS in settings that are integrated in and support full access to the greater community," according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), which developed the state plan. "This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive and integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources and receive services in the community to the same degree as individuals who do not receive HCBS."

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposalthrough December 1. Feedback can be submitted by email toHCBSrulecomments@fssa.in.gov; in addition,six "listening sessions" have been scheduled around the state from November 7 through 18.Tobetter understand the state's response to the federal Medicaid directive,FSSA has created a webpage HERE.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid. Indiana has proposed revising its Medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Iowa is now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders May Be Underreported - DisabiltyScoop
There may be many more children than previously thought with developmental disabilities resulting from alcohol exposure during pregnancy, researchers say.

Mom Accused Of Throwing Son With Autism Off Bridge - DisabiltyScoop
A woman who appears to have written online about the stress of taking care of her son with autism and ailing husband is suspected of throwing her 6-year-old boy to his death from a bridge.
November 4, 2014

National Funders Collaborate To Support Groundbreaking Work In Disability And Employment - PRNewswire
NEW YORK, Nov. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Autism Speaks, Kessler Foundation, May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, New York Collaborates for Autism and Poses Family Foundation, have collectively committed almost $7.5 million to support groundbreaking work in disability and...

Harper Government invests in new online financial planning initiative for Canadians with disabilities - PRNewswire
VANCOUVER, Nov. 4, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development) announced an investment through the Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component (SDPP-D) of $427,626 to the Plan Institute for Citizenship and Disability...

Popular Mental Health and Parenting Reality Series Heading To Israel - PRNewswire

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Nov. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Lynette Louise aka THE BRAIN BROAD is a renowned international mental health and parenting specialist who travels the globe to work one-on-one with struggling families. In their homes she always effectively guides and teaches behavior...



CareerCast Identifies Eight Best Jobs for Candidates With Disabilities - PRNewswire

CARLSBAD, Calif., Nov. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Since the "Final Rule" of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act took effect this year, many more hiring companies are actively seeking out candidates with disabilities. In a new report, CareerCast identifies some of the best careers for job...



Autism Surge Creating Special Education Teacher Shortages - DisabiltyScoop
Schools have long had trouble finding special education teachers, but administrators say the task is becoming increasingly difficult as more children are diagnosed with autism.

Family Wants To Reframe Down Syndrome Diagnosis - DisabiltyScoop
Disappointed by the way they learned that their newborn son had Down syndrome, a Minnesota couple is working to improve the experience for other families.

Justice Department Monitoring Disability Access At Polls - DisabiltyScoop
Federal officials are fanning out across the country on Election Day to ensure that voters -- including those with disabilities -- don't encounter barriers to casting their ballots.
November 3, 2014

A Place for Mom® & VeteranAid.org Reveal Top Three Myths Regarding Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension - PRNewswire

SEATTLE, Nov. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A Place for Mom, Inc. (APFM), North America's largest senior living referral service and VeteranAid.org, a nonprofit organization providing information and resources to veterans and their families, are joining together this Veterans Day to dispel...



NY State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico blocking criminal investigation of Governor Cuomo, reports The Jonathan Carey Foundation - PRNewswire
ALBANY, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  This release is issued by The Jonathan Carey Foundation: Following the recent AP News story titled "Cuomo's Office Tightly Controls Public Records" which reveals a culture of secrecy and...

AUCD2014 Has Gone Mobile! - AUCD
Check out the 2014 AUCD App Guide for a detailed overview of how to download the app and how to access everything in it. See you in 4 days! Schedule, Maps, Twitter and ore on your mobile device - completely free.

Iowa To Change Medicaid Waiver Services That 'Isolate' Individuals - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

State responds to new federal regulations

November 03, 2014

Iowahas proposed changing its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities, and other settings.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal, which was developed by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), through November 30. Feedback can be submitted by email to HCBSsettings@dhs.state.ia.us.

To better understsand the state's response to the federal Medicaid directive, DHS has created a webpage HERE that includes this PRESENTATION.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid. Iowa has proposed revising its medicaid program to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Iowa is now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

Report: Changes Fail To Curb Restraint, Seclusion - DisabiltyScoop
Despite many states making policy updates in recent years, a new analysis suggests that students with disabilities continue to experience high rates of restraint and seclusion at school.
October 31, 2014

Trial Of Marijuana-Based Drug Offers Hope - DisabiltyScoop
For children experiencing dozens or even hundreds of seizures a day, an experimental drug derived from marijuana could make all the difference.

Lawmakers Urge Feds To Listen To Autism Self-Advocates - DisabiltyScoop
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The Nursing Home Complaint Center Urges Family Members of a Victim of Sepsis That Developed in a Nursing Home Anywhere in Texas to Call the Law Firm of Hotze Runkle - PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Nursing Home Complaint Center is urging the family members of a loved one who developed sepsis in a nursing home anywhere in the state of Texas to immediately call the Hotze Runkle law firm in Austin at 877-919-0830 for their unsurpassed...



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October 30, 2014

Delta Gives Back to Veterans, Service Members and their Families with Matching SkyMiles Offer - PRNewswire

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Idaho Finds 'Gaps' In Medicaid Waivers, Seeks Public Input - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Review finds need for improvement in access to services

October 29, 2014

Idahohas found itsMedicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services comes up short in complyingwithnew federal guidelinesand is inviting public reaction. The state Department of Health and Welfare examined Idaho's 352 residential assisted living facilities and 2,212 certified family homes and found gaps in their compliance with the new federal rules which prohibit services that "isolate" residents from the general community or fail to provide the same level of access.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the review through November 2. Feedback can be submitted by:

E-mail:
HCBSSettings@dhw.idaho.gov

Written comments sent to:
HCBS
Division of Medicaid, Attn. Transition Plan
PO Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0009

FAX:
(208) 332-7286 (please include: Attention HCBS)

Calling toll free to leave a voicemail message:
1 (855) 249-5024

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid.Idaho has reviewedhow its Medicaid program complies with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Idahois now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs. (These rules do not apply to intermediate care facility or other Medicaid services – these rules apply only to Medicaid HCBS programs, including HCBS waivers.)

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?
October 29, 2014

Pentagon Delays Proposed Rate Cuts For ABA - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

New program would have cut ABA provider rates in half

October 09, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (October 9, 2014) --The Department of Defense has announced it will delay a planned cut in what it pays providers through TRICARE to deliver applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment to military kids with autism.

The new demonstration program allows coverage of BCBA/BCBA-D direct services and the tiered-service delivery model, which includes BCaBAs and Behavior Technicians, by consolidating existing programs under one uniform benefit for all TRICARE beneficiaries with autism.

The cut in reimbursement was among a series of changes included in TRICARE's new consolidated ABA benefit for beneficiaries that is scheduled to take effect October 20.

In a statement, a Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed thatTRICARE will delay any ABA reimbursement rate changes until April 20, 2015.

"The Department understands the concerns caused by the rate change," the DoD said. "In order to address these concerns, the Department has commissioned an independent review of the Demonstration."

Autism Speaks responded to the announcement as a positive sign.

"We are encouraged to see the DoD respond to the concerns of families and providers and look forward to working with the Department to ensure the final policies meet the needs of families, align with best practices, and provides for timely and affordable services," said Karen Driscoll, Autism Speaks' associate director for federal government affairs & military relations.


CT Launches Post-Newtown Overhaul Of Behavioral Health Care - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Autism-specific steps included in plan announced by Governor

October 10, 2014

(October 10, 2014) -- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has announced a comprensive overhaul of the state's emergency and lonterm behavioral health care system, includingfour steps specific to upgrading treatment for children with autism. The reforms were required by legislation enacted after the 2012 mass shooting tragedy inNewtown.

“No child in mental health crisis should have to wait days to get access to the treatment they need," Malloy said. "That is why I am announcing a series of strategies that...can be implemented immediately."

The Connecticut plan calls for short-term improvements toemergency care services which, in line with national trends, have experienced increasing admissions of youths with acute behavioral health issues and delays in discharges. Malloy's plan calls for immediate increases in emergencycare capacity with specific accommodations for the autism community.

The longer term changes were developed bythe state Department of Children and Families (DCF) as required under Public Act 13-178, legislation enacted following the Newtown tragedy.

In a review of emergency care services required by children in HUSKY, the state's Medicaid program, nearly half the children with autism enrolled in the programneededto visit anemergency roomover an 18-month period. Nearly half of those visits were because of behavioral, rather than medical, reasons, versus just 7 percent for the overall HUSKY population.

In response, four steps were outlined specific to the autism community:

  • Connecticut will implement the federal government's July 7 directive to provide medically necessary treatment through its Medicaid program forchildren with autism up to age 21. An outline of services is expected October 22.
  • The state will invest up to $1 million to create up tothreeteams of specially trained practitioners to address the unique needs of children with autismreceiving care in Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and other settings to recommend a successful out-placement.The transition plans may includeevidence-based interventionscovered byprivate insurance or Medicaid,work with children in hospitals orin their homes who are at risk for hospitalization.
  • An in-home care program will be created todivert children with autism aged13-21from inpatient and other residential settings.A $300,000 pilot program will serve 10 children with severely challenging behaviors. "This in-home support pilot will assist adolescents who have autism and who are exhibiting severely challenging behaviors to remain in the community and live successfully at home with their families."
  • Threespecialized inpatient hospital beds will be providedfor individuals experiencing the most acute and complex autismand co-occurring psychiatric disorders. A small number ofindividualsrequire hospitalization because of intense behavior challenges, but Connecticut has been ill-equipped to handle them.

DCF estimates that 156,000Connecticut children may have behavioral health symptoms that would benefit from treatment.

"Families experience a number of barriers to treatment including a highly fragmented system in which access varies according to such factors as insurance status, involvement in child welfare or juvenile justice, race and ethnicity, language, and geographic location," the Department concluded. "In addition, the array of services lacks sufficient inclusion of supports for all children and families that promote nurturing relationships and environments that foster social, emotional, and behavioral wellness. A comprehensive plan is required to guide the efforts of multiple stakeholders in developing a children's behavioral health system that builds on existing strengths and addresses the many challenges that exist."

The Governor's immediate action plan is HERE.

The DCF longterm plan is HERE.


JOIN UCP IN CELEBRATING WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY DAY - UPC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org JOIN UCP IN CELEBRATING WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY DAY  Share your ideas and help to change the world for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2013) – Do you …
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The Arc and UCP React to Offensive Language to People with Disabilities in The Wolf of Wall Street - UPC
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UCP HOLDS FIRST INTERNATIONAL DESIGN-ATHON - UPC
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UCP ANNOUNCES 2014 AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE - UPC
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UCP RELEASES ANNUAL REPORT ON STATES SERVING AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES - UPC
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Join the Conversation: I'm In To Hire Day - AUCD
I'M IN TO HIRE is purposed to promote the business benefits for hiring people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities* (IDD) and motivate employers across the globe to create a more inclusive workplace. Show your support by resharing any post from @ImInToHire. Thank you for supporting our campaign and weighing in on social media.

AUCD 2014: New Plenary Speakers Confirmed - AUCD
AUCD is pleased to welcome several amazing plenary speakers to our 2014 Conference! Don't miss out on these engaging speakers, register today!

AUCD Welcomes Shannon Haworth as the new senior specialist for the LEND team at AUCD - AUCD
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AUCD 2014: Dont Miss Out on Early Bird Registration - AUCD
Register by October 10th and be entered to win a free conference main registration fee! Two winners will be randomly drawn and notified on October 11th. Reserve your space today for the highly anticipated AUCD Conference.

AUCD 2014 Hotel Room Block is Full! - AUCD
AUCD's block of hotel rooms at the Renaissance is full and they are not able to give us more rooms at our negotiated group rate. Please go to the Hotel link to see a list of hotels within walking distance to the Renaissance that might have space.

2014 Trainee Travel Scholarships - AUCD
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AUCD Welcomes Leon Barnett as Program Specialist for the OSEP Promise TA Center - AUCD
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AUCD Welcomes Jessica Finkel as Program Assistant - AUCD
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Special Issue of Medical Care Highlights Health Disparities at the Intersection of Disability, Race and Ethnicity - AUCD
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AUCD Statement on today's Senate Hearing on Overcoming Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities - AUCD
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President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities Holds 2014 Meeting - AUCD
The President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities held their 2014 meeting September 3-5. The committee how has significantly more members with intellectual disabilities and strong representation from the AUCD network.

Happy Preparedness Month! - AUCD
Celebrate by ensuring you and your family are prepared for an emergency. CDC has focused on children's preparedness for the past week. Learn some of the ways children's needs are unique in an emergency and how your family can prepare.

Former Deputy Secretary of Labor, LinkedIn VP, Business Leader to Contribute to UCP's Mission - UPC
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Far too often, students with disabilities end up on a path to prison when their behavioral and emotional issues are not well addressed at school, experts say.

Special Olympics and Nielsen Announce Strategic Alliance - PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Special Olympics today announced a strategic alliance with Nielsen to uncover and illustrate the purchasing power of people with intellectual disabilities (ID). As part of the strategic alliance, Nielsen will help measure and...



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Course Focuses On Interior Design For Those On The Spectrum - DisabiltyScoop
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Maryland Overhauling Community Pathways Medicaid Waiver Plan - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Response to federal directive prohibiting settings that 'isolate' individuals with disabilities

October 28, 2014

Maryland is surveying the disability community as part of an overhaul of Community Pathways, its Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services, in order to comply with a federal directive that prohibits services that "isolate" participants from the general community.The new rules will affect group homes and "alternative living units,"as well as home-based services for children and adults.

Seperate surveys have been set up for individuals with autism and their caregivers, residential providers, and case managers and support planners. Survey responses are due Friday, October 31.

To take the survey, go to:

Participants/Caregivers, or
Case Managers/Support Planners, or
Residential Providers

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) expects to draft a plan by early January then conduct town hall meetings and a 30-day public comment period.The plan will then be revised in response to public feedback and submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in March.

What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Community Pathways. Maryland will proposerevisions to the waiver programto comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Maryland isrequired to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver, residential provider or case managerto affect how these changes take place.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. In an attempt to simplify the process, maryland created the three surveys. In addition,CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

California Proposes Changes To Medicaid Waiver Program - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Group homes, other facilities can no longer 'isolate' developmentally disabled from society

October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 -- Californiahas proposed changingits Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services in order to complywith afederal directive that prohibits services that"isolate" participants from the general community, and is inviting public reaction. The new rules will affect group homes, adult residential facilities, congregate living health facilities,and other settings.

Individuals with autism and their caregivers who receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the new proposal, which was developed by the California Department of Health Care Services,through November 26. Feedback can be submitted by email to STP@dhcs.ca.gov.

  • A stakeholder call is scheduled for December 2 from0am – 12pm. The call-in number is: 888-829-8671; Participant passcode: 7335142
What's the issue?

Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medi-Cal.California has proposed revisingMedi-Cal to comply with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

What can you do about it?

Californiais now required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs.

Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

What do the new rules mean?

The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

Not sure what to say?

Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

  • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
  • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

  • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
  • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?
October 27, 2014

Tours help visitors with special needs experience The Royal - PRNewswire

WindReach Farm leads guided tours at Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Nov. 7-16 TORONTO, Oct. 27, 2014 /CNW/ - Hundreds of people living with disabilities or special needs will be able to experience all the excitement The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair offers next month, thanks to its...



Beamz Interactive, Inc. Launches Beamz Therapy Bundle - PRNewswire

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Beamz Interactive, Inc. (OTCQB: BZIC), a leading developer of state-of-the-art interactive music products, today launched its Beamz Therapy Bundle which features the newly published Beamz Therapy Guide, created in partnership with the...



Study: Group Approach May Help Parents Of Kids With Autism - DisabiltyScoop
With group training sessions, researchers say parents can learn to successfully incorporate autism therapy techniques into their everyday interactions with their children.

Defense Department Working to Hire More People with Disabilities - AUCD
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is taking steps to become a model employer of people with disabilities. Its new director of disability programs, Randy Cooper, is leading a department-wide effort to hire more people with disabilities, including troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
October 25, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Announces Disability Employment Outreach Day - PRNewswire

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today announced a Disability Employment Outreach Day event scheduled for Oct. 31 in Harrisburg and declared October as Pennsylvania Disability Employment Awareness Month. The event will provide...



Kroger named Employer of the Year by Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities - PRNewswire

CINCINNATI, Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) was named Employer of the Year by the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities for significantly contributing to employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Kroger was nominated for this...



Tools for Meeting Life's Challenges offers free informational seminar for families of children with cerebral palsy or catastrophic physical disabilities - PRNewswire

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tools for Meeting Life's Challenges (Tools MLC), today announced that it will host a free seminar on Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 8:30 am to 12:45 pm at the Sheet Metal Workers Local #19 Union Hall at 1301 South Columbus Blvd. in...



Healthy Eating Eluding Many With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
People with disabilities are falling far short when it comes to consuming recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients, researchers say.

Study Finds Link Between Air Toxics, Autism - DisabiltyScoop
A new study has found links between autism and exposure to higher levels of certain air toxics during pregnancy and the first two years of life.

Autism Speaks Reports On Efforts To Improve New TRICARE Plan - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Attempt to revise Autism Demonstration Program

October 24, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (October 24, 2014) --Autism Speaks, military families and other service and advocacy organizations met last week with TRICARE and Department of Defense (DoD) representatives to address questions and concerns regarding coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) under TRICARE's new Autism Care Demonstration (ACD).A copy of TRICARE meeting handouts is included HERE.

The following summary of the TRICARE meeting is to help inform the community of issues discussed.Confirmation with your regional contractor is strongly recommended before making any decisions affecting your operations or a beneficiary's treatment plan.If you are not receiving a timely or complete response to your policy questions from the regional contractor, please email us at Militaryfamilies@autismspeaks.org.

  • Reimbursement rate cuts to services delivered by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) have been put on hold for 180 days. The DoD has contracted with the RAND Corporation to conduct an independent study to assess ABA reimbursement rates.The Contractor shall continue to process claims at the prior reimbursement rates of $125 for services delivered by a BCBA and $75 for one-on-one ABA delivered by a BCaBA.A copy of TRICARE's letter to the regional contractors can be found HERE.
  • TRICARE confirmed that BCBA delivered services can be combined with the tiered service delivery model provided one BCBA is designated for treatment plan oversight. We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • The issue of one BCBA per case was raised, and TRICARE representatives confirmed that this meant that one BCBA must be responsible for care coordination and oversight of the patient's treatment plan.TRICARE further explained that this was “a billing issue” and “the ACD does not limit a team approach to ABA or preclude consultation with or assistance by other BCBAs.”We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • BCaBAs may perform supervision duties, but must also work under the supervision of a BCBA.When asked how BCaBA supervision services were to be billed, TRICARE explained that the BCaBA supervision must be billed by the BCBA.We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • Concern was raised that the new Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification requirement may result in treatment delays.A one-year delay of this requirement was proposed by attendees.TRICARE agreed to re-examine its RBT timeline and the additional requirements it places on technicians over and above the RBT requirements.
  • There was discussion regarding the discharge criteria and the two-year clinical review included in the ACD policies; concerns were raised that other outpatient services do not have discharge criteria mandated in policy.The disparity between TRICARE's discharge criteria and the BACB guidelines was also discussed.TRICARE assured attendees that this language was not intended to discharge patients from care and that such decisions should be made at the clinician level with patients and parents.TRICARE agreed to reconsider the discharge language and the necessity of a two-year clinical review.
  • Concerns about the minimum age eligibility of 18 months were raised.TRICARE agreed to re-examine this requirement.
  • TRICARE confirmed that the monthly five percent supervision rule applied to time the behavior technician spends with each ABA recipient.
  • There was discussion emphasizing the importance of ensuring referring physicians receive a copy of the ABA treatment plan and progress report each six months.
  • There was discussion about expanding the pool of ABA providers to include licensed clinical psychologists as long as ABA was in the scope of their practice.TRICARE agreed to reconsider including licensed clinical psychologists as authorized ABA providers.
  • Concerns were raised that not all cost shares under the ACD accrue to the family catastrophic cap, resulting in significant out-of-pocket costs for non-active duty family members and effectively barring access to recommended treatment services. TRICARE and DoD personnel agreed to re-examine the ACD cost shares and catastrophic cap concerns, but it was unclear what the timetable for that would be.
  • Because of time, the group was not able to discuss concerns regarding limitations on treatment domains, but the handouts TRICARE provided for the meeting include assurances that, "The ACD interprets the medically identified ASD treatment domains as behavior, communication, and social skills broadly to include the array of targets identified by the BCBA during the development of the ABA treatment plan.The ACD does not limit ABA treatment plan targets developed by the BCBA but rather leaves treatment plan targets to the professional judgment of the BCBAThe change in terminology is intended to map care and treatment to medically defined requirements – not to limit the scope of care that can be provided.”
  • Autism Speaks will continue to work for positive policy improvements to ensure all beneficiaries with autism have access to affordable and timely services in a manner consistent with best practices. As policy develops, we will work to keep the community informed.


    Texas Conducts Review Of Medicaid Waiver Programs - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    Public asked to weigh in on compliance with new federal rules

    October 24, 2014

    October 24, 2014 -- Texas has assessed howits Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services complies with a new federal directivethat prohibits the states from "isolating" participants from the general community and is inviting public reaction.

    Individuals with autism and their caregiverswho receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the review, which was conducted by the Texas Department ofAging and Disability Services, through November 12.Feedback can be submitted by email toPDO@dads.state.tx.us.

    What's the issue?

    Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid. Texas has reviewed howits Medicaid program complies with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

    What can you do about it?

    Texas isnow required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

    The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs. (These rules do not apply to intermediate care facility or other Medicaid services – these rules apply only to Medicaid HCBS programs, including HCBS waivers.)

    Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

    What do the new rules mean?

    The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

    However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

    CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

    What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

    During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

    Not sure what to say?

    Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

    If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

    • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
    • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

    If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

    • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
    • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

    NY Overhauling Medicaid Waiver Program, Moving To Managed Care - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    'People First Waiver' would replace current fee-for-service system

    October 23, 2014

    NEW YORK (October 24, 2014) -- New York State has developed a new "People First Waiver"program that would dramatically alter howMedicaid waiver programs are funded and operated has scheduled hearings across the state on October 27 to solicit public comment.

    Developed by the stateOffice for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the new programs, once finalized,will replace New York's current Medicaid waiver program with new plans that cover home health and institutional care, and one that covers home- and community-based services (HCBS).

    People First would transitionNew York out of its current fee-for-service program to a managed care model which, based on experience in other states,could significantly impact the quality and level of services provided to the state's disabled community.

    In addition, the HCBS services must incorporate a federal directive that Medicaid funding cannot be used to pay for settings that "isolate" people with developmental disabilities from society at large.

    "This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive and integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources, and receive services in the community, to the same degree as individuals who do not receive HCBS," according to OPWDD.

    The issue gained urgency starting a year ago whenthe U.S. Department of Justice through an enforcement action forced Rhode Island toclose itsMedicaid-funded sheltered worskhop program because the participants were kept isolated from the community at large.

    "The Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Services will reflect OPWDD's mission and vision and will project our 5-year plan for implementing the transformational agenda around supporting people with developmental disabilities to enjoy meaningful relationships, experience personal health and growth, live in the home of their choice and fully participate in their communities," according to OPWDD.

    OPWDD has scheduled a live video conference at eight locations around the state withActing Commissioner Kerry Delaney for October 27 from 1 pm to 5 pm. The agency is urgingself-advocates, parents as well as other family members, non-profit providers, professionals, advocates, and other interested parties to participate.

    For thoseunable to attend, written testimony can be submitted to:

    Ray Pierce, OPWDD, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, NY 12229, or
    via e-mail at raymond.l.pierce@opwdd.ny.gov.

    Video Conference Locations and Contact Information

    Rochester (Finger Lakes)
    620 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY 14620
    Room 25 Leaf
    Contact: Tracy Scott at (585) 241-5729, Tracy.L.Scott@opwdd.ny.gov

    Western New York:
    West Seneca
    1200 East and West Rd. West Seneca, NY 14224
    Building 16, Conference Room 1-153
    or
    Millersport
    2295 Millersport Highway
    Getzville, NY 14068
    Contact: Mary Beth Blodgett (716) 517-2151, Mary.Beth.Blodgett@opwdd.ny.gov

    Syracuse(Central NY)
    187 N. Concourse, N. Syracuse, NY 13212
    Northern Concourse, Regional Training Center
    Contact: Beverly Gibbs at (315) 473-6976, Beverly.Gibbs@opwdd.ny.gov

    Schenectady (Capital District)
    500 Balltown Road, Schenectady, NY 12304
    Building 3, Conference Room 2
    Contact: Karen Francisco at (518) 388-0431, Karen.Francisco@opwdd.ny.gov

    Plattsburg (Sunmount)
    159 Margaret Street, Suite 104, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
    Contact: Jill Hewson at (518) 561-8190, Jill.Hewson@opwdd.ny.gov

    Kingston(Taconic)
    521 Boices Lane, Kingston, NY 12401
    Contact: Amy Witkus (845) 382-1899 x104, Amy.Witkus@opwdd.ny.gov

    New York City (Metro New York)
    25 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004
    Conference Room 3100, 364, and 3102
    Or
    Bernard M. Fineson
    Hillside Complex, Bldg. 80, 80-45 Winchester Blvd., Queens Village, NY 11427
    Contact: Claudette Walker at (646) 766-3466, Claudette.Walker@opwdd.ny.gov

    Long Island
    415 A Oser Avenue, Hauppauge, NY 11788
    Multi-Purpose Conference Room
    Contact: Sheila Jones at: (631) 416-3842, Sheila.Jones@opwdd.ny.gov

    For general information about the Public Forums, please contact
    OPWDD's Strategic Planning Office:
    Phone: (518) 473-9697

    October 24, 2014

    Nonprofit Uses Digital Media to Personify Mission - PRNewswire
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Victory Living Programs has turned the microphone and video camera over to their most powerful advocates - the individuals they serve. In their newest promotional video entitled, "Independence Defined," Victory Living Programs...

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Helps Keep Special Olympics Athletes Healthy - PRNewswire

    CHICAGO, Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is proud to support Special Olympics Illinois with more than $75,000 in funding: A Community Partners Grant of $27,000 will help fund the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes...



    Gonzales Joins California State Independent Living Council as Legislative Specialist - PRNewswire

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The California State Independent Living Council (SILC) is pleased to announce Desi Gonzales, J.D., has been hired as SILC's Legislative Specialist. Gonzales will be responsible for implementing the State Plan for Independent Living,...


    October 23, 2014

    Two Families Sue Crotched Mountain Foundation, Staff For Child Abuse - PRNewswire
    CONCORD, N.H., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Two families of young, disabled children receiving educational services at the famed Crotched Mountain Foundation filed suit against the institution today in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, detailing a number of serious incidents of...

    Power Wheels Offer Lift For Kids With Special Needs - DisabiltyScoop
    With no commercially-available device allowing young children with physical disabilities to get around, modifications are being made to Power Wheels cars to offer a chance at independence.
    October 22, 2014

    Wheelchair basketball coaching legend Tim Frick becomes first Paralympic coach to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame - PRNewswire

    TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Wheelchair Basketball Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee congratulate legendary wheelchair basketball bench boss Tim Frick who today became the first Paralympic coach ever to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. The 2014 Induction...



    Carrington Charitable Foundation's 4th Annual Golf Classic Raises Over $1.4 Million for Wounded Heroes - PRNewswire

    ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Carrington Charitable Foundation (CCF) today announced that it raised over $1.4 million for wounded Heroes and their families at its 4th Annual Golf Classic event on October 6th, 2014. Held at The Resort at Pelican Hill in...



    Staying Above the Rising Waters: How Your Own Personal Emergency Preparation Can Save Your Life - PRNewswire
    SHORT HILLS, N.J., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This article is by Nate Herpich on behalf of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center (PRC). The PRC is a national resource which provides a road map of complimentary services and programs to empower...

    NYC Nursing Home, Gold Crest Care Center, Spotlights the Differences Between Hospice and Palliative Care Services for Chronic or Terminal Illnesses - PRNewswire

    BRONX, N.Y., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Gold Crest Care Center, a leading nursing home in NYC, explains the differences in hospice and palliative care services and spotlights the center's hospice and palliative care service options. For more information, or to speak with a...



    AVACEN Medical Announces FDA Clearance of First Medical Device with Internal Game Mode - PRNewswire

    SAN DIEGO, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- AVACEN Medical announced today that its AVACEN 100 Class II medical device received 510 (k) OTC clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This clearance allows the AVACEN 100 to be marketed over the Internet for: the temporary relief of...



    Professional Diversity Network To Host Career Fair In Chicago - PRNewswire

    CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Professional Diversity Network, Inc. (Nasdaq:IPDN) announced it will host a Professional & Technology Diversity Career Fair in Chicago for diverse professionals including women, veterans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic...



    SSI Payments To Increase - DisabiltyScoop
    Monthly Social Security payments -- including those for Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries -- will go up next year.

    Accomplished Cross-Sector Leader Named UCP Chair - UPC
    Effective October 1, United Cerebral Palsy’s Board of Trustees welcomed new members and several new officers to help lead the national nonprofit organization for people with disabilities and their families. UCP has more than 80 affiliates in the U.S. and internationally. Gloria …
    Read More
    October 21, 2014

    Labor Secretary: Shift Away From Subminimum Wage An ‘Example' - DisabiltyScoop
    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is hoping that states will follow the federal government's lead in moving away from paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

    Family Wants Apology For Duct-Taped Son - DisabiltyScoop
    A teen with autism who was found duct-taped to a goalpost earlier this month has faced backlash over the incident, but his family says they don't want to see criminal charges in the case.

    AUCD Welcomes New Staff - AUCD
    AUCD is pleased to welcome several new and talented staff to our Central Office team!AUCD is pleased to welcome several new and talented staff to our Central Office! We are excited about the expertise they bring and the contributions we are confident they'll make in working for the network and people with disabilities.

    Three-time Paralympian Stephanie Dixon named Canada's Assistant Chef De Mission for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games - PRNewswire

    Note to media: Broadcast-quality B-roll is available at www.SendtoNews.com. High-resolution photos can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/lw544ow OTTAWA, Oct. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is pleased to announce that three-time Paralympic swimmer Stephanie...



    Feds Warn Schools On Bullying Of Kids With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
    In response to an increasing number of complaints, federal officials are reminding schools of their responsibilities to ensure that students with disabilities are not subjected to bullying.
    October 20, 2014

    Wounded Warriors Canada Announces 2015 Battlefield Bike Ride - PRNewswire

    Canadians will cycle nearly 600km from Vimy Ridge to Nijmegen in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Wounded Warriors Canada is proud to announce that they will host their second annual Battlefield Bike...



    AUCD Announces 2014 Trainee Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
    AUCD is proud to sponsor 20 trainees with scholarships to the AUCD 2014 Conference. The trainees selected come from 17 centers, and represent both LENDs and UCEDDs in over 10 disciplines.

    WA State Orders ABA Covered, Past Denials Reconsidered - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    Order issued in wake of state Supreme Court ruling

    October 20, 2014

    October 20, 2014 -- Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has ordered the state's private insurers tostop enforcing blanket exclusions for medically necessary mental health coverage, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism,and to reconsider all claimsdating back to 2006 that were denied on the basis of a blanket exclusion.

    Kriedler's order was issued in the wake of the Washington Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that such blanket exclusions violate bothstate and federal mental health parity law. While Krielder's order does not specifically reference autism or ABA, it was the result of the Supreme Court's decision in O.S.T. v Regence, a class action suit dealingwith denials of ABA on the basis ofblanket exclusionsfor individuals diagnosed with autism.

    “The court ruled decisively on behalf of Washington consumers, and I intend to see that insurers doing business in our state follow through on this decision,” Kreidler said. “I expect the insurers to do a thorough review of all policyholders who may have current and past claims that may be impacted by this decision and to start the process immediately.”

    Kreidler's office was assailed last week in a Seattle Times editorial for having left enforcement of the mental health parity law to the courts, rather than taking action on its own.

    "He has been slow to stand up for the tens of thousands of families struggling to get necessary care for loved ones with mental illness," the Times wrote. "Astoundingly, his office has not taken a single enforcement action on the law, and a proposed rule to strengthen enforcement has languished in his office for two years."

    In his letter to insurers issued today, Kreidler directed that claims for medically necessary services could no longer be denied on the basis of blanket or categorical exclusions. If currentinsurance contracts do contain exclusions, then policyholders must be notified of the "correct coverage standard." Health plans to be issued in 2015 will be reviewed for compliance.

    In addition, insurers.were given until March 1, 2015 to identify all mental health claims dating back to 2006 that were denied on the basis of a blanket exclusion and to implement aprocess for allowing improperly denied claims to be re-evaluated.

    The provision reflects a proposed settlement between Regence Blue Shield in the state andfederal class action lawsuits in which the insurer would establisha $6 million fund to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses incurred by policyholders for improperlydenied claims.

    “With this settlement and the recent (state) Supreme Court decision, the standard for coverage in Washington state is clearly established,” said Eleanor Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, who represented the plaintiffs.

    Hamburger has reached settlementswith the state's three largest private insurers and the state employees health plan, and is representing employees suing Boeing for its denialof autism benefits. The federal class action suit against Regence coveredhealth plans regulated under federal ERISA laws and alleged violations of federal mental health parity law. All of the actions are based on denials of ABA coverage for children with autism.

    Mental health parity laws do not require mental health coverage; rather, they require health plans that do cover mental health benefits to cover those benefits at parity with physical health benefits.


    Affordable Housing Grant to Help 14 Disabled, Low-Income Citizens Achieve Homeownership - PRNewswire

    JACKSON, Miss., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In its continuing commitment to the community, BancorpSouth Bank has secured a $147,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to help the University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies in...



    In Siblings, Autism Signs Often Apparent At 18 Months - DisabiltyScoop
    About 20 percent of younger siblings of those with autism are on the spectrum too and they often show symptoms of the developmental disorder as young as 18 months, researchers say.
    October 17, 2014

    Sixty Low-Income Homeowners to Get Critical Home Repairs Thanks to Housing Grant - PRNewswire

    LEXINGTON, Miss., Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- BankPlus, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas), and Community Students Learning Center (CSLC) have teamed up to rehab 60 homes in the city of Lexington, Mississippi, and Leflore County. According to BankPlus...



    Minister Bergen Highlights Benefits of Registered Disability Savings Plan - PRNewswire
    Welcomes new RDSP Action Group in B.C. VANCOUVER, Oct. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), joined Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation of British Columbia, in marking Registered Disability Savings...

    Disney Urged To Include Characters With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
    Tens of thousands have signed a petition calling for Disney to include characters with Down syndrome in its animated films.

    Therapy Pig Wins Reprieve - DisabiltyScoop
    After a nearly yearlong battle, a family will get to keep a 65-pound pig in their home that they say offers support for their children with special needs.

    AUCD Announces 2014 Emerging Leader Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
    The Emerging Leader Scholarship Fund was established to support emerging leaders in the AUCD Network with an emphasis on self-advocates, family members and early career professionals. Recipients receive a travel scholarship and registration funds for the AUCD Conference in Washington, DC, where they gain valuable opportunities in networking, mentorship, and professional growth.

    'Historic' Settlement On Autism Benefits Reached In Washington State - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    Regence Blue Shield agrees to cover ABA, other treatments

    October 17, 2014

    (October 17, 2014) -- Regence Blue Shield, the largest Washington State health insurer, has agreed to settle a pair ofclass action lawsuits by covering medically necessary autism treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), and establishing a $6 million fund to reimburse policyholders for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of denied claims.

    Regence is the last of Washington State's three largest insurers to settle litigation brought under state and federal Mental Health Parity law over lack of coverage for autism treatment.

    “With this settlement and the recent (state) Supreme Court decision, the standard for coverage in Washington state is clearly established,” said Eleanor Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, who prepresented the plaintiffs.“All other Washington health insurers should change their policies now to ensure that children with developmental disabilities get the insurance coverage to which they are entitled.”

    Hamburger was referring to a unanimous decision reached last week by the Washington State Supreme Courtin aclass action lawsuit that found Regence's blanket exclusion of treatments on the basis of an autism diagnosis violated the state's 2005 Mental Health Parity Act. Within days, Regence agreed to settle a second class action suit proceding in U.S. District Court affecting its self-insured, or so-called ERISA, plans which are regulated under federal Mental Health Parity law.

    The settlement would cover both the state and federalactions and requires approval by both judges.

    The proposed settlement wouldrequire coveragefor medically necessary speech, occupational and physical therapies and ABA therapy to treat mental health conditions, including autism.Exclusions,age limits,monetary caps and visit limits would all be prohibited. A $6 million settlement fund would be established by Regence to reimburse policyholders whose previous claims for autism coverage were denied.

    "...This proposed Settlement Agreement – now buttressed by the Washington State Supreme Court – fundamentally changes the insurance landscape for all Regence's Washington insureds with developmental disabilities and autism,"according to a motion filed by Hamburger before the state and federal judges hearing the cases. "If approved, the Agreement would expand and align Regence's coverage obligations with the two other large carriers in Washington (Premera and Group Health), resulting in a historic, market-wide expansion of access to medically necessary therapies in Washington State for individuals with developmental disabilities."

    Once the two judges issue their preliminary approval, final hearingswill be scheduled in each court and a notice will be sent to all class members about the settlement, the final hearings, and the process for submitting claims for reimbursement of out-of-pocket neurodevelopmental therapy costs.

    If the final settlement agreement is approved, Hamburger said sheestimates thatfunds from the $6 million settlement fund could be disbursed to affected families by April or May of 2015.

    In addition to the Regence, Premera Blue Cross and Group Health Cooperative actions, Hamburger has won a settlement with the Washington Health Care Authority requiring coverage for state employees and has filed an action against Boeing.

    October 16, 2014

    Nearly 1.7 Million Households Saved $340 Million In Tax Preparation Fees Thanks To MyFreeTaxes - PRNewswire

    ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Up until the final bell of the extended filing season, MyFreeTaxes — the nation's only free online tax preparation and filing initiative available to residents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia earning $58,000 or...



    Sub-Human Treatment of the Disabled by New York State Agencies - PRNewswire
    ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Jonathan Carey Foundation is exposing the ugly truths of what continues in NYS since Willowbrook. NYS Governor Cuomo's Justice Center is treating the disabled as sub-humans and is violating their Civil Rights by denying...

    Levo Tinnitus System Receives Health Canada License as a Class 2 Medical Device - PRNewswire

    PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Otoharmonics® Corporation, announces that it has received a Class 2 medical device license from Health Canada for the Levo® system, a personalized neuroscience-based sound therapy for use in the temporary relief of tinnitus...



    Court Challenge Launched Against the Elimination of Door-to-Door Delivery - PRNewswire

    OTTAWA, Oct. 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Representatives from seniors' groups and organizations for people with disabilities joined the Canadian Union of Postal Workers today to launch a major legal challenge to the attempt to end home mail delivery. "In Canada, people should count, not just the...



    AUCD Announces 2014 Emerging Leader Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
    The Emerging Leader Scholarship Fund was established to support emerging leaders in the AUCD Network with an emphasis on self-advocates, family members and early career professionals. Recipients receive a travel scholarship and registration funds for the AUCD Conference in Washington, DC, where they gain valuable opportunities in networking, mentorship, and professional growth.

    Autism Speaks' Lorri Unumb To Speak At TN Law School - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    Will address enacting insurance reform laws in conservative states

    October 16, 2014

    LEXINGTON, SC (October16, 2014) -- Lorri Unumb, Esq., vice president for state government affairs at Autism Speaks, will address the Belmont University School of Lawon "Legislating Autism Coverage: The Conservative Insurance Mandate" at a Law Review Symposium on Health CareFriday, October 17 in Nashville.

    Unumb won the fight for autism insurance reform in her native South Carolina in 2006 then went on with Autism Speaks to help manage the enactment of similar laws in 35 other states. Today, 75 percent of the nation's population is covered under state laws barring the insurance industry's practice of excludingany coverage for autism treatment.

    In addition to California, Texas and New York, Unumb helped manage the enactment of reform laws inArkansas, Louisiana,Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Alaska. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was persuaded to veto a bill sent to her by the Legislature which would have voided its state mandate.

    Tennessee is one of 13 states yet to enact autism insurance reform. Efforts will resume in 2015 with the Legislature to outlaw the insurance industry's exclusionary practices.

    Belmont's Annual Symposium will be held on Friday, October 17 at the Baskin Center, home of its College of Law. Unumbis scheduled to speak at9 am.


    Harvard Study Finds Psychiatrists Tough To Access - DisabiltyScoop
    Making an appointment with a psychiatrist is often an uphill battle no matter if you're insured or if you intend to pay out of pocket, a new study suggests.
    October 15, 2014

    Mobility Ventures to Showcase New Luxury MV-1 at Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association Annual Convention and Tradeshow 2014 - PRNewswire

    SOUTH BEND, Ind., Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mobility Ventures LLC, designer and manufacturer of the acclaimed MV-1—, the only American vehicle purpose-built and designed from the ground up in support of people who use wheelchairs—is pleased to announce its attendance...



    White House Honors Disability Employment Champions of Change - AUCD
    Ten people from across the country were honored as Disability Employment Champions of Change at the White House on October 14, 2014 for their efforts to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

    NY Care Facilities Rampant with Physical and Sexual Abuse - PRNewswire

    ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Jonathan Carey Foundation -- Governor Cuomo has ignored pleas for required direct reporting of abuse and neglect of the disabled to go immediately to 911. Instead Governor Cuomo continues to allow most witnessed and reported...



    AudioEye Announces New Advisory Board Members - PRNewswire

    TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- AudioEye®, Inc. (OTCQB: AEYE) ("AudioEye" or the "Company"), creator of the Audio Internet™ patented audio browsing and automated publishing technology platform, today announced that Joyce Bender, and Bernie Kossar have joined...



    Teens Charged In Ice Bucket Case - DisabiltyScoop
    Five teens have been charged with dumping a bucket containing urine and tobacco spit on a 15-year-old with autism who thought he was taking part in the "ice bucket challenge."
    October 14, 2014

    Wheelchair Ad Sparks Controversy In Divisive Governor's Race - DisabiltyScoop
    How and when it's appropriate to reference a candidate's disability are at issue in a closely-watched governor's race in one of the nation's largest states.

    Dr. Bryant-Claxton Named Executive Director of the Institute for Disabilities Studies (IDS) (MS UCEDD) - AUCD
    Dr. Beth Bryant-Claxton brings a wealth of experience as a clinical psychologist and administrator into her new role as executive director of The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies. Dr. Bryant-Claxton joined the Institute for Disabilities Studies (IDS), Mississippi's University Center for Excellence in Research, Education and Service (UCEDD), on Oct. 6.

    Dr. Joann Yuen Appointed Director of the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies - AUCD
    Dr. JoAnn Yuen will begin her role as director on January 1, 2015. She has been with the Center on Disability Studies (CDS) at the University of Hawaii since 1999 and has served as associate director since 2013. Yuen is the former chair of the COE Faculty Senate.
    Last updated : November 27, 2014 - 22:09:48
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