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Month: February 2019

Colorado Medical Exemption Program Updates

There are now two programs in CO one for Xcel consumers which provides relief on summer pricing; and the Black Hills program which is year-round reduced rate.   

The Chronic Care Collaborative is the administrator that processes the applications and confirms usage with Xcel or Black Hills to qualify a residential customer.  Sabrina is the staff person who can assist your staff or constituents. She can be reached at 303-993-5056. Or sabrina.padilla@ccc-co.org

What follows is the updated links with the application and information for 2019.  Feel free to post this on your website or include in newsletters with your constituents, members or participants. 

Xcel customers

https://www.xcelenergy.com/billing_and_payment/understanding_your_bill/energy_assistance_options/colorado_medical_exemption_program

The direct link to the info sheet PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe-responsive/Billing%20&%20Payment/Energy%20Assistance/CO-medical-exemption-program-info-sheet.pdf

Direct link to the application PDF: https://www.xcelenergy.com/staticfiles/xe/Corporate/CO%20Medical%20Excemption%20Program%20App.pdf

Black Hills 

https://www.blackhillsenergy.com/products-services-programs/colorado-medical-exemption-program

Chronic Care Collaborative web page

https://www.chroniccarecollaborative.org/cmep/

Disability Community Loses one of our Rock Stars

The disability community lost one of it’s fiercest advocates on 2/24/19.  Carrie Ann Lucas, a disability rights attorney who pioneered representation for parents with disabilities, died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death.  She was 47 years old.

Carrie Ann Lucas is known around the state and the country for her strong advocacy.   

Carrie Ann grew up in Windsor, Colorado and had several careers including being a teacher, ordained minister and legal assistant before becoming an attorney.  Carrie graduated from Whitworth College in 1994, traveled and taught in Saipan, and then returned to the states to attend the Iliff School of Theology. She received a Master’s of Divinity with Justice and Peace Concentration from Iliff in 1999, but during her time there, became increasingly involved in disability advocacy.  After she graduated, she started working as an advocate and later legal assistant for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, investigating, preparing, and monitoring disability rights cases and providing informal advocacy on a wide range of topics.  While there, she was granted a full scholarship as a Chancellor’s Scholar at the University of Denver School of Law.

Following her graduation from law school in 2005, she was awarded a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship to create a program to combat discrimination that impacts parenting for parents with disabilities.  This program, initially started within the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, spun off to be Disabled Parents Rights, one of the only organizations in the country devoted to this issue.  She also became a national expert and trainer on the rights of parents with disabilities and, through her legal advocacy, secured decisions upholding and promoting those rights here in Colorado.  Most recently she was recruited by the Colorado Office of Respondent Parents Counsel to help set up a program to train other lawyers around the state to replicate the sort of impact she was making.  

In addition to these professional activities, Ms. Lucas was an advocate with the disability rights groups ADAPT and Not Dead Yet, speaking, teaching, writing, testifying, and protesting on disability justice and the rights of people with disabilities to healthcare and respect.  She was also a talented photographer and cook. Carrie Ann was an activist at heart. She graduated from EMERGE, ran for Windsor City Council in 2017, and was planning on additional political activity.  She was chair of Colorado Democrats with Disabilities for the past several years. She was a member of the ADAPT group that protested in Cory Gardner’s office and got arrested to help save the Affordable Care Act in 2017, particularly Medicaid.    She served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.   She was active with Not Dead Yet and fought hard against physician assisted suicide and the notion that life with a disability is not worth living.  She demonstrated every day how amazing life with a disability can be. She was given the Intersectionality Award from The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center in 2016.  She was a leader in passing HB 18-1104 which changed Colorado law to make sure that disability was no longer a reason to remove a child from a parental home. There is much, much more.

Carrie became a lawyer to practice family law after lived experience of discrimination against parents with disabilities firsthand.   In 1998 fostered and later adopted her oldest daughter, Heather Lucas. Heather has significant developmental disabilities and was languishing in another state.   She fostered and was preparing to adopt a second child, but that was disrupted due to prejudice against parents with disabilities. Where most people might be upset and feel helpless, Carrie Ann was furious and went to law school to represent parents with disabilities.    

Carrie adopted three more children over the years, Adrianne Lucas, Azisa Lucas and Anthony Lucas.   All of her accomplishments centered on her dedication to her children and her role as a mother. All of her children have significant disabilities and Carrie Ann always made sure that they were not only educated and included in their communities, but that they were loved, respected, and supported in their individual hopes and dreams.    

Carrie had a severe neuromuscular disease, a rare form of muscular dystrophy.  She relied on a power wheelchair, and had used a ventilator for years. However, her death was premature and caused by inappropriate and brutal cost containment procedures of an insurance company.  Because Carrie Ann worked for the state, she had use state insurance which was primary ahead of her Medicare and Medicaid. In January of 2018 she got a cold which turned into a trach and lung infection.  Her insurance company UnitedHealthcare, refused to pay for the one specific inhaled antibiotic that she really needed. She had to take a less effective drug and had a bad reaction to that drug. This created a cascade of problems, loss of function (including her speech).  United Healthcare’s attempt to save $2,000 cost over $1 million in health care costs over the past year. This includes numerous hospitalizations, always involving the Intensive Care Unit which is par for the course for ventilator users.

Carrie Ann had hoped to spend a lot of time in 2019 using her tragedy to work to fix our broken health care system.   Her blog www.disabilitypride.com provides more details.   For all intents and purposes a shero of our community was murdered in the name of cost containment.  This is why we MUST fight these measures with all we have. Insurance companies and government programs must not be allowed to deny people what they need.  Just last month she was having to ration her insulin for her type 1 diabetes because of the same insurance company and how impossible it is to work between private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid.  This is a great example of why people with disabilities should not be forced into insurance or health plans and why we need Medicaid as the primary health delivery system for this country.

In addition to her four children, Carrie Ann is survived by her sister Courtney Lucas, her parents Lee and Phil Lucas, her nephews Gavin and CJ Lucas, Gavin’s wife Kathleen and their daughter Emily.  She is also survived by her partner Dr. Kimberley Jackson, a CCDC Board member and activist in the disability community. She will be missed by a wide circle of friends and colleagues throughout the country.  

Why CCDC opposes the “Special Education Opportunity Scholarship”

HB19-1151

Special Education Opportunity Scholarship

The bill creates a Colorado Special Education Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide scholarships to parents of eligible students with multiple disabilities to use in purchasing services from an education provider or other educational services as selected by the parent.

Although this bill uses the word scholarship it is essentially a voucher program. Students cannot be enrolled in their public school and the student must be identified as having a multiple disability in order to be eligible for this money.  Students would be exempt from the compulsory attendance requirement by maintaining eligibility as a student enrolled in a private school or a nonpublic home based educational program. The scholarship or voucher would be used for an approved private school or an approved private online program. Parents could also use the money for materials and tutoring services, academic enrichment services and approved providers such as Speech and Language, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Behavioral Therapist, etc.  The amount the eligible student receives in scholarship is the amount of the statewide per pupil revenues plus the amount of per pupil special education funding. This scholarship would be administered by a scholarship facilitator and would be paid from the money deposited into the student’s account. The State Board would contract with a scholarship facilitator and they would be paid up to 10 percent of the amount of money the student receives in scholarship.

Students that opt out of public school education often will return to public schools with greater gaps in achievement. Finding qualified instructors or therapists for students with multiple disabilities can be challenging.  Parents and school districts need to work together in resolving their differences in order for students to receive appropriate instruction and services. Hopefully, districts will not see this scholarship program as a way for students with multiple disabilities to withdraw from public schools and be served at home or in private schools, when conflict arises.

The amount of money is estimated for a state average PPR of $8,450.45.

The Exceptional Children in Education Act (ECEA) funding is a part of that calculation. The preliminary/estimated Tier A ECEA funding is $1,250.oo per student and the average Tier B ECEA funding is $1,888.00 per student. The Scholarship Facilitator would take up to 10% of the total amount for administration and monitoring. If you look at the responsibilities of the Scholarship Facilitator and the amount they would get paid, I am not sure they would be fairly compensated by the 10% of the scholarship amount.  Parents would not have a lot of money to contract with approved providers, buy materials and supplies. Providing a private school education for a student with multiple disabilities would cost more than the scholarship will provide.

This bill would put a burden on families of students with multiple disabilities especially in families where both parents are working. Researching needs of students and  appropriate approved providers would be time consuming. Students who were homeschooled would miss out on the social aspect of going to school and learning to live in the community.  

Another area of concern would be transitioning students, 18 to 21 years of age from school to the community.  Public Schools have transition services in place and have built relationships in the community to assist students with employment and training.

BREAKING NEWS: Colorado becomes the second state to secure its entire Congressional Delegation as DIA Cosponsors in the 116th Congress!

ADAPT and Disability Rights Community Praise Colorado for Becoming the Second State to Have Entire Delegation as Cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act (S117/HR555)

Colorado has become the second state to have their entire Congressional delegation cosponsor the Disability Integration Act only 21 days since introduction of the bill on January 15, 2019.

The Disability Integration Act is a bill that affirms the right of people with disabilities and seniors to live in freedom, rather than be forced into unwanted institutionalization. It would require states and insurance providers who pay for institutional placement to also offer long term services and supports in the community.

“We know that it will take members of Congress from both side of the aisle to make DIA the law of the land,” said Dawn Russell, an organizer with Atlantis ADAPT in Denver, Colorado. “We want to thank every member of Colorado’s delegation for supporting the rights of disabled people to live in freedom, especially Senator Gardner who was the first Republican on the Senate bill.”

DIA has widespread support from over 730 organizations from across the nation. At the DIA introduction event, AARP announced their support for the bill, illustrating support from the aging community and the importance of seniors being able to age in their own homes instead of being forced into nursing facilities as they grow older.

“Individuals with disabilities should have the right to live in the setting that best fits their needs and allows them to live as independently as possible in their community” said Senator Gardner, the Republican lead in the US Senate. “After hearing first-hand from the ADAPT community in Colorado, I was proud to be the first Senate Republican to champion this critical legislation that will help ensure individuals living with disabilities are provided the flexibility to live how they choose.”

Colorado joins Vermont on the growing list of states that have their entire delegation as cosponsors of DIA. “We were thrilled that all of our members of Congress from Vermont were original cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act this session, and we are excited to see more states join us!” said Sarah Launderville, the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living. “I think this really demonstrates the importance of ensuring that disabled and elderly Americans can live in the community.”

ADAPT and the broader Disability Community have called upon the House of Representatives to pass DIA before July 26th of this year, which will also mark the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Short Link:
https://bit.ly/2SdlvRW

Full link:
https://adapt.org/press-release-adapt-and-disability-rights-community-praise-colorado-for-becoming-the-second-state-to-have-entire-delegation-as-cosponsors-of-the-disability-integration-act-s117-hr555/


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