Sheryle’s service is will be on Thursday, October 24th at 3:00 PM at Newcomer Funeral Home
CCDC is saddened to announce the passing of disability rights all-star Sheryle Hutter. Sheryle was a CCDC staff member until last year, before that she was a Board Member, and dedicated volunteer advocate. Among her many significant accomplishments was the development of our current advocacy training program. Her efforts made it a professional level class, eligible for continuing education units from the University of Denver. Sheryle developed the curriculum in partnership with the University College at DU and created enough evidence-based curricula with a robust evaluation to qualify it for a college-level class.
Sheryle was born on September 26, 1944 and died October 13, 2019. She was married to the love of her life Don Hutter on January 27, 1962. They renewed their vows this past January. She leaves behind two sons, Don Jr, and Ron Hutter. Ron works as the CCDC event assistant and is on the Arc of Aurora Board of Directors. He followed in his mother’s advocacy footsteps, something that made Sheryle very proud. Sheryle is also survived by all five siblings: Vicki Shultz, Pam Farnoik, Tommy Collins, Scott Collins and Brent Collins. She leaves behind many nieces and nephews, colleagues, friends and admirers.
Sheryle’s professional history began when she owned and operated a square dance shop, then had an interior design business and finally became a grants manager for the Cherry Creek School district where she worked for more than 30 years. Sheryle poured her significant talents into several organizations as a volunteer. She was involved with Special Olympics for more than 30 years. She started the program in the Cherry Creek District and there are now over 10,000 athletes participating across the state. Her son Ron is an athlete and coach with Special Olympics. Sheryle was a leader in the all-volunteer organization PADCO (Parents of Adults with Disabilities of Colorado). PADCO takes strong unapologetic advocacy positions. Sheryle and founder Dr. Denver Fox uncovered fraud in the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) system that was later verified by government auditors. She found a glaring error in legislation missed by several professional lobbyists that took needed services away from hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and she forced a correction to maintain needed services.
Sheryle was involved in many capacities with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. She joined as a volunteer in the late 90’s, later she served on the Board of Directors and acted as Treasurer for several years. After her retirement from the Cherry Creek School district, she threw herself into advocacy, lobbying on behalf of CCDC, and creating the advocacy training program that is in place today. Sheryle was also involved in local Arapahoe County and City of Aurora politics. Sheryle has mentored and encouraged many people with disabilities and parents of people with disabilities. Sheryle had a strong sense of disability pride, and that is evident in the work of her son Ron. Sheryle was passionate about improving the quality and accessibility of health care, enforcement of the American’s Disabilities Act, and ethical and transparent behavior of nonprofits that are funded to support people with disabilities.
Sheryle has received several awards for her work in the disability community including the Dan Davidson Award given by the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council and the Lucile Weiss Memorial Award for Education from CCDC. Sheryle will be dearly missed. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that people honor Sheryle by voting, becoming active and involved with your community and doing something to improve health care and access for people with disabilities and/or senior citizens in your communities.
By: Jaclyn Allen
DENVER — It is a terrible choice: either give up on work or lose the health care needed to live. For a small group of Coloradans, it is a choice that looms large as they approach the age of 65.
“I really want to keep working. I enjoy it,” said Curtis Wolff, who became a quadriplegic seven years ago, after surviving the West Nile Virus. “I am still able to do a lot of things. I am a trainer for a contractor for the State of Colorado.”
But certain health care expenses aren’t covered by insurance, including wheelchairs and personal care. Fortunately, Colorado has a Medicaid buy-in program for working adults with disabilities,which allows Wolff to keep making and saving money and still get Medicaid benefits.
But there is one major problem: the program ends when people turn 65 years old.
“This program is only good until age 65, and I can’t even retire until 67 in the first place,” said Wolff, who said that even after that, Medicare will not cover long-term care expenses and other benefits that Medicaid does.
If he wants to keep receiving Medicaid after he turns 65, he has to get rid of all assets over $2,000.
“Really, after working hard you whole life you basically have to lose everything in order to just survive. It’s just not fair,” he said.
Josh Winkler with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) said federal lawmakers probably assumed people could get on Medicare at 65 or that many with disabilities would not live past that age.
“As set up right now, the system is broken,” said Winkler, who said a bill drafted at the federal level to change the 65 age limit has gone nowhere. “I know several people who have worked for 20 plus years with their disabilities, and their plan is to die before they turn 65 because they don’t have a plan at 65.”
CCDC is looking for a state solution, allowing people to keep working, keep their assets and keep buying in to Medicaid if they have already been part of the buy-in.
Nearly 9,000 people take part in the Medicaid buy-in for working adults with disabilities, but Winkler said that probably only a few dozen Coloradans would need the age limit extended beyond 65.
Winkler and Wolff believe it could save the State money in the long term, and CCDC is working on drafting legislation at the state level and finding a lawmaker to sponsor it.
“Something needs to change,” said Wolff, who is about to turn 63 and just hopes the change happens in time for him. “I might have to go to a nursing home and that would be the worst-case scenario and I really don’t want that to happen.”
Original Article by Denver 7 TheDenverChannel.com
by Haven Rohnert
After a decade of being a stay at home parent, when I was 19 to 29, my children’s mother and I parted ways. It was the first time I had to survive on my own, with complicated medical conditions, hundreds of miles away from close friends and family.
I got on a hospital’s program for people with low incomes, which provided me the minimum medical treatment to survive. When I secured SSI, during these rough times, I received Medicaid which gave me better coverage, to combat my disabilities.
I stopped having the type of seizures which caused me to wake up in the hospital many times. I still had 3 to 5 partial seizures a week, so I and my neurologist discussed surgery as an option.
I had my first surgery and that stopped every type of seizure, for over a year. After I started having symptoms that felt like a seizure could come on but never did, we discussed having a second surgery. I had the second surgery. In about a week, I will have a hospital stay to see if it’s safe to start tapering off one medication at a time. We started tapering of one medicine approximately 7 months ago, but I had reactions which may be seizures or possibly just withdrawal symptoms. Being monitored in the hospital will let doctors and I know what causes the reactions.
Through all this, Medicaid has been by my side and has kept me safe and provided treatment that I couldn’t afford with other insurance. Medicaid has also been great for preventative treatment that has allowed me to raise my kids and work safely for over 11 years. With Medicaid’s 1619 B program, which allows people with disabilities to keep their insurance, after surpassing the income limit, if a person cannot work without the coverage, I was able to work my way off all other government benefits. I am happy to pay for my insurance now, through the Medicaid buy-in program. Medicaid is a lifesaver and a door opener.
**All Blogs reflect the opinions/experiences of people with disabilities or family members of people with disabilities. They do not reflect CCDC’s official position on any portion of Medicaid services.
CCDC wants to thank the ACLU of Colorado for your groundbreaking (and heart breaking) expose. We are proud to partner with this great organization and with CREEC who is also doing this work and look forward to working with anyone interested to assure that immigrants and asylum seekers with disabilities are treated fairly and humanely.
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Rachel Pryor-Lease <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 10:52 AM
Subject: Investigative report on immigration detention released today
To: Julie Reiskin <email@example.com>
Today marks the release of our investigative report about the GEO immigration detention facility in Aurora: Cashing in on Cruelty: Stories of Death, Abuse and Neglect at the GEO Immigration Detention Facility in Aurora.
The report is based on a nine-month ACLU of Colorado investigation, which included a lawsuit against ICE under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for records about Mr. Samimi’s death and interviews with dozens of victims of mistreatment. The investigation revealed numerous stories of medical incompetence, dental neglect, inadequate mental healthcare, lack of accommodations for detainees with disabilities, as well as substandard care that contributed to the suffering and death of Kamyar Samimi, a Lawful Permanent Resident for more than 40 years.
Cashing in on Cruelty provides a set of recommendations to improve state and local policy, including increased oversight and accountability of ACDF, divesting from investments in private detention operators like GEO, funding for legal counsel and bond money for detainees and limiting local cooperation with ICE. The policy brief enumerates ways that Colorado cities, counties and the state should respond to the expansion of private immigration detention centers to improve conditions of confinement and reduce the number of people who end up separated from their families and communities or worse — dead.
Read the report and learn more, including actions to take and know your rights information at: https://www.allarewelcomeco.org/.
As a reminder, we are having an informal breakfast this Friday, September 20th from 8:30-10am to hear from the staff that worked on the report, as well as learn more about our next steps. Please let me know if you would like to join us.
Thank you for your support, so that we can continue to do this critical work.
Director of Philanthropy
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 350
Denver, CO 80203-1256
Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself
Sign up for e-alerts and support our work at www.aclu-co.org
P.S. Please join us at our annual Bill of Rights Dinner on Thursday, September 26th at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Denver. For tickets and more information, visit: https://aclu-co.org/events/bill-of-rights-dinner/.
By Jeanie Benfield assisted by Jo Booms
I value my Medicaid and realize I’d be in an institution without it. But it’s not enough to create a system to serve people with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and then let it run amok because society doesn’t value the people the system was set up to serve. I am now lucky enough to have services through excellent agencies – but for most of my life, I didn’t. Most people don’t have any idea how bad it is in the IDD system. The problems are due to massive problems in oversight plus the system’s refusal to pay direct care workers a skilled-job wage. The wage problem makes it so that people with IDD often have no choice but to receive services from the very people they should most be protected from. When we do come across outstanding direct care workers, we value them – but the system as a whole does not. I have an assistant, Jo. Jo has worked with me for 21 years in various capacities (paid and unpaid). I have a severe speech impairment due to my disability. Jo is one of only a few people who can interpret for me on the level I need. The system pays her $12/hour to do this. I can trust her with my life, and the system pays her $12/hour.
It is difficult to find great direct care workers who will stay in this field; they’re not paid a living wage and the system makes the job hellishly stressful. The lack of quality direct care workers has a horrible effect on quality of life for people with IDD. You’d think that overseeing agencies would know about these problems – but they don’t, because what the agencies oversee is largely paperwork. If the paperwork’s ok, the overseeing agencies think that means the clients have great lives. What the system doesn’t understand is that what doesn’t make it onto paper doesn’t get reflected in the statistics. Abusive direct care workers aren’t going to write on an Incident Report (IR) that the reason Client A hit Client B is because the direct care worker was rude and insulting to Client A. This is a true story; I’m Client B. Client A is a sweet person whom I love dearly. She asked the worker if she could go trick-or-treating. The worker could have politely and respectfully explained that Client A is too old to go trick-or treating and then said something like, “You’re always so good at helping give out candy when trick-or-treaters come to the door. I was really hoping you could help me out with that”, or the staff could have reminded Client A that she always has a great time at the ARC Halloween party and that she receives many compliments on her costumes. There are any number of ways the worker could have redirected Client A appropriately. But instead, the worker chose to speak to her scathingly. Disabilities don’t prevent people from having feelings. When Client A gets upset, she flails her hands like a toddler. I happened to be in the way. It wasn’t intended as a hit, and didn’t hurt or leave a mark. But the staff counted it as a hit, wrote an IR, and tried to pressure me into calling the police and pressing charges because “Client A needs to know there are consequences when she hits”. I was like, ‘What the hell???’ I refused. The staff got mad, but oh well. I’m not about to press charges against another client because of something a worker did wrong. I told the residential director what really happened, so Client A ended up not being in trouble over it. But when there’s no one to witness or report or when there’s no one who cares enough to take witnesses seriously, clients get in trouble, daily, for crap that staff pull. Many clients are on behavioral programs to address, repress, and extinguish their understandable reactions to being treated like crap by the direct care workers who are supposed to be providing them with quality care. Many of these same clients are on psychotropic meds to make them acquiesce to workers treating them inappropriately on a daily basis.
It’s not right, but officials don’t want to hear about the problems. When clients, family members, and guardians try to tell state-level officials about problems in the IDD system, the state dismisses our testimony as “anecdotes”. We are not anecdotes. We are human beings who, through the blessing of Medicaid, are trying to experience the inalienable rights granted to us by our country’s constitution. Medicaid is a huge step forward in our quest for equality. But existence of the program alone isn’t enough; it must deliver services in ways that uphold the dignity of the human beings it serves.
**All Blogs reflect the opinions/experiences of people with disabilities or family members of people with disabilities. They do not reflect CCDC’s official position on any portion of Medicaid services.”
by Jennifer Roberts
In 1985, when I was in Kindergarten, I was hospitalized for four days. After receiving a support poster from my classmates, a special teddy bear, and lots of finger pricks, I came home with a diagnosis of asthma. From that time forward I carried an inhaler, and I used it 8 times a day. Throughout childhood, my biggest challenge at school was timing attacks so that I could get to my inhaler in the office. If I was at recess, at specials, or in the field, taking these walks felt like an eternity. By the time I got there I was dizzy from lack of oxygen, barely able to move my legs, and struggling to tell the teacher that I needed help. These attacks also happened at home, and forgetting an inhaler, or bringing an empty inhaler, constituted an emergency.
At sixteen I was prescribed Azmacourt. It used an inhaled steroid to reduce the inflammation in my lungs, and it changed the game. For the first time in P.E., I could run-walk a quarter mile without getting out of breath. During most of my day I forgot that I used an inhaler.
In my 20’s a drug came out called Advair. It combines the inhaled steroid of Azmacourt, with a new medicine that relaxes my airways. It completely replaced my rescue inhaler except for emergencies. Advair is not cheap. The retail price for my current version is around $650, and I use one per month. Two years ago my doctors added a medication called Spiriva, with a similar price tag. I use two per month.
Asthma was the first of many health challenges, but I can’t step away from it. Planning for health insurance has been a necessity and a constant struggle. My father developed Leukemia my senior year of college. My mother’s plan covered him, but not me. I was punished at my first job review for taking more than two sick days a year. When I left I spent seven years of my life without any insurance, relying on the Colorado Indigent Care program. I returned to work full time in 2009, but even with my employer’s health plan it was cheaper to buy generic Advair from Canada.
The Affordable Care Act granted me medical care for the first time in 13 years. I am a member of the Cherokee Nation, and as a result I had low premiums, and $0 deductibles. The ACA was implemented right after I was seriously injured and it covered the full cost of several bone surgeries, in addition to covering the full cost of my prescriptions. This helped me keep my home and modest assets.
I lost ACA coverage when I was awarded SSDI. Everyone on SSDI is automatically placed on Medicare, and I was not allowed to have both. Medicare required me to pay back my ACA premium on my taxes, and I retroactively lost cost sharing. With Medicare I was also going to have to pay more than $6,000 for my inhalers. That is about a third of my income. I did not want to go on Medicaid because before my accident I went through the Dave Ramsey financial plan. I did not want to give up my emergency fund because it makes me feel safe and gives me stability.
CCDC helped me apply for the Medicaid Buy-in program. The Medicaid Buy-in was created through the Affordable Care Act for working people with disabilities. It allows participants to have Medicaid, but keep assets like a retirement plan and savings account. One key is that participants have to be paid to work, but there is no hourly minimum. It is similar in cost to my American Indian Health Plan, and is calculated based on my disability income and my employment income. So far I pay $90 a month for my premium, $0 co-pays for visits and $1.25-$3.75 for prescriptions.
Getting onto the Buy-in program was challenging. Coloradans applying for ACA coverage have to apply for Medicaid and be denied to qualify. Even though my case at Connect for Health was closed, it was messing up my Medicaid eligibility because I had been denied recently. CCDC helped me get past this. Once I was approved it was easy to use. I was already on Kaiser with Medicare so I just let them know I had Medicaid too. As soon as my next appointment I did not have to pay a co-pay and I was able to get my prescriptions. Medicaid is supposed to pay for my Medicare Part B premium but they aren’t, and I need to file an appeal. CCDC helps with these. The plan also covers dental at limited locations but I have not tried it.
The Medicaid Buy-in has some limitations. It does not cover seniors over 65. It does not cover people if they cannot work at all. It only covers people with a disability, and doesn’t cover things like the high cost of insulin if Diabetes is your only condition. People who don’t qualify can still lose their assets if they are injured like I was, or get really sick like my father. I am not sure what happens if you have periods where you have to miss a whole month of not working, like when you need surgery. But so far it is a good step. In the meantime I am also working with the Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care to expand this kind of care for everyone.
**All Blogs reflect the opinions/experiences of people with disabilities or family members of people with disabilities. They do not reflect CCDC’s official position on any portion of Medicaid services.”
September 20th 2019
10:30 AM– 12:00PM
Addiction Professionals Day
Tivoli Film Center
University of Colorado – Denver – College of Arts and Media
901 Larimer St. Denver, CO 80202
Special recognition of the legislative bill sponsors
Meet Colorado’s new Ombudsman for Behavioral Health Care Access
The Denver Reel Recovery Film Festival
Tivoli Film Center
Immediately following the
SAVE THE DATE!
AFR Colorado Hosts:
RALLY FOR RECOVERY
Denver Civic Center Park
It is the policy of the State of Colorado that all public meetings and events hosted by or permitted through a State agency are physically and programmatically accessible for all. These guidelines provide organizers with a brief overview of how to plan and stage accessible, inclusive events.
People with disabilities include those with physical, sensory, intellectual, perceptual, and mental health conditions and may require special accommodations to fully participate in public events. People who are older, pregnant, ill, or fatigued may also have accessibility needs. As accommodations may include items not described in these guidelines, organizers may need to do additional research.
STEP 1: PLAN FOR ACCESSIBILITY
STEP 2: CHOOSE AN ACCESSIBLE LOCATION
STEP 3: CREATE ACCESSIBLE ANNOUNCEMENTS
STEP 4: CREATE AN ACCESSIBLE EVENT SPACE
STEP 5 : ASK FOR HELP
CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION AND THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
For Immediate Release
President Trump’s Statement Blaming Gun Violence on People with Mental Health Conditions Is Outrageous, Says National Organization of Mental Health Advocates with “Lived Experience”
WASHINGTON (August 7, 2019)—The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR), which advocates to improve policies affecting individuals with mental health conditions nationwide, offers its sincere condolences to all those affected by the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton.
At the same time, the NCMHR is disgusted by President Trump’s recent statement in which he conflated perpetrators of violence and people with psychiatric diagnoses.
“As a national organization representing persons with mental health issues—many of whom are trauma survivors—the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery condemns President Trump’s statement blaming people with mental health conditions for gun violence,” said NCMHR co-founder and board president Daniel B. Fisher, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist with lived experience of a mental health condition.
“As the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and numerous studies have reported, people with mental health conditions are the wrong scapegoat after mass shootings,” Dr. Fisher continued. “Instead, frequently the shooter in these tragedies is an isolated, angry white male with an automatic weapon.
“But the President refuses to take responsibility for his central role in ginning up racism and anti-immigrant hatred in countless statements and at numerous rallies over a period of years.
“Economic and social oppression have alienated and disempowered people, putting the American Dream out of reach for many. We need a more economically and socially equitable society to address the roots of society’s anger. It is crucial that we hear, and respect, the voices of people angered by these economic factors, because so many feel unheard and unrespected.
“And we must immediately pass and implement effective gun control laws. When economist Richard Florida examined gun deaths and other social indicators, he found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn’t correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.
“After a mass shooting in 1996, Australia adopted tougher gun control laws—and this resulted in a huge decrease in gun violence.
“Unfortunately, many of our legislators feel obligated to the National Rifle Association. Republicans received nearly $6 million in the 2016 election cycle; Democrats received $106,000. President Trump received at least $21 million from the gun lobby. At the same time, 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun sales.
“We can do this. At long last, we just need to summon the political will.”
The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) works to ensure that people with psychiatric diagnoses have a major voice in the development and implementation of health care, mental health, and social policies at the state and national levels, empowering people to recover and lead full lives in the community.
CONTACT: Daniel Fisher, MD, PhD, NCMHR board president, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-642-4480