need help

NEED HELP?

Find CCDC programs to help assist in advocating for you or someone you know with a disability.

LEARN MORE
ACTION ALERT

ACTION ALERT

Keep up to date with disability rights activities you care about. Choose a few topics or sign up for all of them!

LEARN MORE
issues

ISSUES

Find the most common issues people with disabilities face and how CCDC can help.

LEARN MORE

Category: Sound Off! Blog

The Sound Off! blog is a place for CCDC members to share their experience of living with a disability from the perspective of a disability rights activist.  Express opinions on disability issues or other issues that relate to disability.  Share their feelings about the issues of the day.

Individuals may seek to obtain a Disability parking placard to avoid paying for parking

Everyone that works in the realm of disabled parking knows that we have a problem…there are too many placards out there –7 for each legitimate user at latest estimate.  People often assume that the abuse is due to everyone wanting the “good spaces” that are close to the building. That may be a desirable feature, but a much more desirable feature is that in some jurisdictions, people with a placard or disability plates do not need to pay for parking.   As parking becomes more expensive and harder to find, the temptation to use a disability placard inappropriately grows.

 

Why is disabled parking free?   It stems from the fact that often governments and parking lot owners do not make the payment system accessible to all.  To be accessible it must be something that one can reach even if one uses a wheelchair or is of short stature. It also has to be accessible to someone without use of fingers or hands.  Lowered meters with phone payment options are available in other cities but Colorado has not widely adopted this requirement. The ideal situation would be accessible meters so people with disabilities can park where everyone else parks and pay like anyone else.  Equality means doing what everyone else does….even paying for parking. However, until the method of payment is accessible, payment cannot be required.

 

Only a small subset of people that require accessible parking actually have a problem using a meter.  People that use wheelchairs and are unable to stand at all cannot use a meter. People with no hand use or finger coordination cannot use most meters.  People of short stature cannot reach meters. Most others with disabilities can use meters. Anyone who simply cannot walk a long distance, people that use wheelchairs but can stand, and people with one good hand can all use a meter.

 

HB 18-1285 Remuneration-Exempt Disability Parking Placard was an attempt to create a second specialized placard to distinguish  individuals who truly cannot use a meter so only those individuals would be eligible for free parking in accessible spaces. Others would still be able to park close, use the wide spaces, etc., but would be expected to pay in metered zones.

 

Individuals will be qualified for the new placard for the following reasons

  • Fine motor control in both hands
  • Ability to reach a height of 48 inches from the ground due to a lack of strength for mobility in the individuals finger hand or upper extremity or
  • Ability to reach or access a parking meter due to the use of a wheelchair or other ambulatory device

Unfortunately this definition excludes one group of people unable to reach a meter.  CCDC lobbied for a modification of the 3rd qualifier above to read “Ability to reach or access a parking meter due to disability”.  However our proposed amendment to make the bill accomplish the goal was rejected.

 

This law is permissive meaning that local governments are free to enact it or not.  CCDC believes that it would be discriminatory to give free parking to only some people that cannot reach a meter based not on function but on whether or not they use a wheelchair.  Some people that use wheelchairs can stand. Some people have wheelchairs that elevate their seats. On the other hand others walk but due to small size are not able to reach a meter or pay slots.   Because the Americans’ with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments to avoid discrimination, even though this is a state law, local governments could be at risk for litigation if they implement the law as written.  The ADA is a federal law and federal law supersedes state law.

 

We do not know at this time if any municipalities are planning to use this new provision.  Below are some frequently asked questions about the law:

 

When will the Law go into effect?    January 1st 2019

 

Will the new law cover the entire State?    Yes, each municipality will decide whether or not they will change their rules to match the new law.

 

How can I get a new placard?     You do not need a new placard, but an additional placard.  There is no application for this additional placard at this time.   Information on obtaining and renewing a placard or plate is here.

That is likely the same place the new applications will be when they are ready.

 

What are the rules about disabled parking?   The state has a brochure outlining the rules.

 

If you have strong feelings about whether or not your local government should implement this law reach out to your city council or county commission.   CCDC believes the idea is right but that it must apply to ALL disability types that cannot reach or use a meter. As a cross-disability organization we cannot support leaving out one disability type.   We also believe there should be an “other” category to account for some condition that no one has thought of that might not fit on any list. The exemption from payment should be based on disability related function-the inability to use meters or pay structures.

 

CCDC also has concerns about education and outreach to the disability community.  The bill was silent on this matter and we are concerned that if this is implemented in a community the people that are used to free parking would not know that they need to get a new placard.   There must be adequate outreach to affected individuals with adequate time for them to obtain the secondary placard. We are also concerned about how people that use plates and do not use (and cannot use) placards will be accommodated in this process.   

 

CCDC agrees that there is a problem with abuse, and believes that the free parking is a major culprit of the abuse.   CCDC would rather see enforcement of pay structures including but not limited to meters that are simply accessible to all drivers and that allows all drivers to take responsibility for payment.

2018 Ballot Guide

Election season is here and at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) we have one message.   VOTE AS IF YOU LIFE DEPENDS ON IT….BECAUSE IT DOES.   CCDC does not endorse or oppose any candidate.

 

We say NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US…EVER!  In order to participate we must exercise our right and responsibility to vote.  Democracy is not a spectator sport and only works when we participate.  We have no excuse not to vote.  Our ballots come in the mail.  If we want to go to a vote center we can, there are accessible voting booths at the voting center.   If we need help understanding or filling out our ballots we can get that help from your local voting center, a friend you trust, or an advocate (including CCDC staff).

 

This guide will do the following:

  • Go over the major races and suggest things to think about as you make your choices about which candidate has most earned your vote.
  • Discuss your rights as a citizen with disabilities, including talking about who can vote (including many people with a criminal background and all people that have guardians).
  • Go over the ballot issues that have any relevance to people with disabilities.

MAJOR RACES:

We are voting for a new Governor.  The Democratic candidate is Jared Polis  and the Republican Candidate is Walker Stapleton .    Both are currently holding other elected positions.  Jared Polis is a congressman for the second congressional district and Walker Stapleton is our state Treasurer.    CCDC has given both candidates our expectations for a new Governor

 

The Governor gets to decide who runs every state agency including Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, Labor and Employment, etc.  If there are changes to the federal Medicaid program a Governor might be able to decide if we accept a block grant for Medicaid—something CCDC strongly opposes.   How much a Governor supports Medicaid is important to us.

Governors also are able to appoint people to boards and commissions including rule making bodies like the Medical Services Board, the Human Services Board, etc.  We want a Governor that will listen to us about appointments and will appoint knowledgeable advocates who have direct experience with the various systems.  We want people appointed that are connected with the community that will seek out diverse opinions and make an effort to listen to our community.

 

The Governor is the CEO of the state and sets the tone with state agencies.   The Governor decides if state agencies are there to support people with disabilities to full participants in the state, or treat us as if we are errant children, in need of protection, punitive measures to keep us compliant, or both.   A Governor can choose to keep an open door to hear us if we have problems with state agencies or can assume that longtime agency staff always know best and stonewall any efforts we make raise issues.

 

We will also vote for Congressional Candidates in all 7 congressional districts.   Here  are the CCDC requests of our Congressional Delegation.   Research candidates directly—do not just rely on 30 second TV commercials.

 

We also get to elect a new Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General.  All of these positions are important.  You can read more about these races here!

 

Many people will get to elect a Colorado Legislator —all seats are up for re-election but some areas do not have two candidates.   Many Colorado Senate seats are up as well, and in some tight districts a few votes might determine control of the Senate.  Never doubt that your vote counts.  You should be able to have a personal conversation with anyone running in your district.  To find out who is running look here.  Reach out to candidates in your district and ask them about their disability platform.  Ask if they will support Medicaid, and expand programs that allow us to control our lives such as Consumer Directed Attendant Supports.  We want consumer/participant direction for all Long Term Services and Supports.  Ask if they will support Medicaid Buy-In allowing us to work and get out of poverty. Many of the issues outlined on our Gubernatorial paper are relevant to a Representative or Senator.  Most important, ask them to make a commitment that if someone asks them to run a bill that will affect people with disabilities that they will ask the person if people from the disability community have been involved with the bill.  If the answer is no then please do not support the bill unless or until they have fully involved our community.   Real and Meaningful engagement of people with disabilities at all levels of government must be a priority.

VOTING RIGHTS:

People with disabilities have the right to vote, the right to accessibility and the right to vote in private.  Disability Law Colorado is the lead organization that protects these rights.   If you have a concern about access to your ballot, or if someone says you are not allowed to vote, please contact Jennifer Levin at jlevin@disabilitylawco.org or 303-722-0300.   Their website has complete information on our voting rights.

BALLOT INITIATIVES:

As always there are a lot of ballot initiatives.

  • AMENDMENTS ARE CHANGES TO THE CONSTITUTION. If they are lettered they were referred by the legislature.  If they are numbered they were placed on the ballot by the citizen petition process.
  • PROPOSITIONS CHANGE STATE LAWS:

Below are the ones where there are possible effects on disability and where appropriate, the CCDC position.  These are statewide ballot initiatives.  There are local initiatives all over the state, such as a measure in Denver to fund mental health treatment.  CCDC does not take positions on local issues but encourage you to listen to all sides, read the proposal, talk to people you trust and vote.  Here are the statewide ballot initiatives that have a disability component or are about overall governance:

 

Amendment V:  Lower the age from 25 to 21 for someone to be a state legislator or senator.   CCDC has no position on this issue.

 

Amendments Y and Z:  Both of these amendments change how go about redistricting to make the process less partisan.  Y is for congressional (federal level) redistricting and Z for (state level) legislators.   There will be a process to select commissioners using specific criteria and there will be an equal number of commissioners from each major political party and independent/unaffiliated weapons.  When the census is taken and the population changes we get more or fewer congressional seats (probably more).  This requires the congressional districts be redrawn.  This is a very political process because the parties each want to use the district boundaries for their advantage.  The same process has to happen at the state level.  In the past partisan processes have caused districts to be drawn based on race keeping people of color in certain areas which reduces the power of the minority vote.   The same thing can happen with lower-income communities—keeping everyone living in poverty in one area to dilute the power of the low-income vote.   It is in the interest of everyone to have fair elections and to have districts be created using non-partisan, objective criteria.  CCDC SUPPORTS THESE AMENDMENTS.

 

Amendment A:  Removes language in the Colorado constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for someone convicted of a crime.  Because many people in jails and prisons are people with disabilities, and because we are a social justice organization, CCDC SUPPORTS THIS AMENDMENT.  It is outrageous that slavery of any form is still allowed under any circumstances.

 

Amendment 73:  Funding for public schools which increases funding for K-12 education through an income tax increase for people with incomes over $150,000 and setting a property tax assessment at 7% for residential properties and 24% for non-residential properties.  This is reduction of current property taxes. The measure also encourages the legislature to change the school funding formula.  The measure does require the Colorado Department of Education to review how the funds are spent and identify best practices.  The legislature should review the funding formula ten years after implementation and make modifications if necessary.   CCDC agrees that schools must be well funded.  CCDC is not an expert in educational financing measures or taxes and therefore is not taking a position on this bill.  For a liberal analysis check out the Bell Policy Center and for a conservative analysis check out the Independence Institute.

 

Amendment 74 requires a state or local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of his or her property.  CCDC has no position on this proposal.

 

Amendment 75 allows candidates to accept 5 times the current campaign contribution limits if any candidate in the race loans or gives his or her campaign more than $1 million.  The purpose is to level the playing field between a candidate with personal wealth and his or her opponent.   CCDC has no position on this proposal.  CCDC generally has concern about the influence of money in politics.

 

Proposition 109 changes Colorado statutes to require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund 66  highway projects and directs the state to pay back the bonds without raising taxes.  It also limits how much interest can be paid back and sets a timeline of 20 years for repayment.  CCDC STRONGLY OPPOSES THIS PROPOSAL.  Our two primary reasons for opposition are:

  • This only funds highway projects with nothing for transit or other modes of transportation. This hurts people with disabilities, many of whom rely on public transportation.
  • Given the limited amount of discretionary funds available to the Colorado Legislature, if taxes cannot be raised the only way to repay the money will be to cut existing programs. Medicaid or other programs important to our community could be cut to repay this debt.

 

Proposition 110 authorizes a slight increase in sales and use tax from 2.9% to 3.52% for transportation projects for 20 years and allows the state to borrow up to 6 billion for transportation projects to be paid back over 20 years.  The funding would be allocated as follows

45% to the state

40% to local governments

15% to multimodal transportation projects

CCDC STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL because the funds will also fix the highways, which are deteriorating but will not leave out transit projects.  Local governments can prioritize their needs as transportation needs vary widely around the state.  This funding will not be taken out of another source, such as Medicaid or education.   This is a sustainable and inclusive solution that will enable our state to meet our diverse transportation needs to have safe and usable roads and to continue to expand transit options.

 

Proposition 111 reduces the cost of a payday loan to 36 annual percentage rate and expands what is considered to be a deceptive trade practices for payday lending.  Payday loans are usually small loans with hefty repayment fees that do not require a credit check.  They are popular with low wage workers and people on fixed incomes.  People can get in trouble because the fees are so high and most people that use these loans are low-income and did not have the money in the first place and end up in perpetual debt.  36% is still a very high interest rate.   Opponents say that this could cause the payday loan industry to stop doing business in Colorado.    CCDC SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL.  If an industry is going to leave the state because they cannot make money with a 36% interest rate that means that they are currently getting much more.  If companies need more than 36% interest leave the state that is OK.  It would be a better use of our collective time and energy to focus on fair lending practices, reduce income inequality, increase wages, and reduce the cost of housing and health care so that people are not struggling so desperately.

 

Proposition 112 requires that new oil and gas developments are at least 2500 feet away occupied structures like homes or businesses, water sources and areas designated as “vulnerable”.  CCDC has no position on this proposal.

 

In closing, please remember to vote.  Vote your ballot as soon as it comes so you do not forget.  If you experience barriers call Disability Law Colorado.  You can also call CCDC with questions or concerns.  If you want to help do phone banking to get others to vote please reach out to Dawn Howard at dhoward@ccdconline.org or 303-839-1775.

ACLU of Colorado to Honor Chuck Plunkett, Dave Krieger, Alex Landau, Amy Robertson and Tim Fox as 2018 Civil Rights Award Recipients

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado is proud to announce that Chuck Plunkett, Dave Krieger, Alex Landau, Amy Robertson and Tim Fox will receive our 2018 Civil Rights Awards, which will be presented at the Bill of Rights Dinner on Thursday, September 27th at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Denver.

 

Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are co-executive directors of the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), a nationwide civil rights organization based in Denver. Over the last several years, they have settled class actions with the cities of Denver, Seattle, and Portland, as well as the Colorado and Montana Departments of Corrections, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and the Pepsi Center. The total dollar value of settlements CREEC has negotiated on behalf of their clients is more than $500 million. Last year, CREEC established a new project, investigating immigration detention facilities for violations of the Constitution and federal law.

 

Robertson and Fox will receive the Carle Whitehead Memorial award, recognizing lifetime commitment to protecting and extending civil rights and civil liberties.

 

“Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are vigilant, tireless fighters for justice,” said ACLU of Colorado Executive Director Nathan Woodliff-Stanley. “By establishing and growing CREEC into a powerful civil rights watchdog, they have fought for the rights of thousands of people who were victimized by unequal and discriminatory policies and practices. We are honored to recognize their immense impact.” 

 

Chuck Plunkett and Dave Krieger will receive the Larry Tajiri media award in recognition of their principled defense of objective journalism and editorial independence. Plunkett was the editorial page editor at the Denver Post from July 2016 to May 2018. Krieger was the editorial page editor at the Boulder Daily Camera until April 2018, when he was fired for self-publishing a column criticizing Alden Global Capital, the corporate hedge fund that owns both the Denver Post and the Daily Camera, for making deep staffing and budget cuts to the respective newsrooms. After learning that Krieger was fired, Plunkett resigned his position at the Denver Post in protest. 

 

“The work of ACLU of Colorado, and much broader, the functioning of our democracy, relies on a strong, independent press to expose corruption and hold those in power accountable for their actions,” said ACLU of Colorado Director of Communications and Advocacy John Krieger (no relation to Dave). “We are proud to honor Chuck Plunkett and Dave Krieger, who were willing to speak out and sacrifice their livelihoods to protect the independence and integrity of their profession.” 

 

In recognition of his achievements as an activist, organizer, and educator, Alex Landau will receive the Ralph Carr Award. Landau was the victim of extreme police brutality at the hands of Denver police officers in 2009. Driven by that experience, Landau has worked to build a movement for racial justice in Denver and around Colorado. In his role as community outreach coordinator for the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, he has taught Know Your Rights trainings, led community-based advocacy campaigns, and mobilized voters. He is currently working to expand access to the ballot for pretrial detainees in Denver area jails. 

 

“Alex Landau is an activist, coalition-builder, teacher, role model, and change-maker,” said Woodliff-Stanley. “He took a horrific event that nearly ended his life and used it as fuel to build a movement for racial justice and equality. We are proud to honor his past, present, and future contributions to civil rights and civil liberties.” 

 

The 2018 Bill of Rights Dinner will feature a keynote presentation from Lorella Praeli, ACLU’s Deputy National Political Director and Director of Immigration Policy and Campaigns. Praeli’s presentation will focus on the ACLU’s nationwide effort to combat the Trump Administration’s destructive immigration policies, reunite families that were cruelly separated by the administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, and encourage lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform and legislation to protect DREAMers. 

 

For more information about the event, purchasing tickets, or becoming a sponsor, please visit the event page or contact Rachel Pryor-Lease at 720-402-3105 or rpryor-lease@aclu-co.org.

Original Post: https://aclu-co.org/aclu-of-colorado-to-honor-chuck-plunkett-dave-krieger-alex-landau-amy-robertson-and-tim-fox-as-2018-civil-rights-award-recipients/

###

CCDC is thrilled that Amy Robertson and Tim Fox are being honored by such a cool organization as ACLU. 

Why We Want MEDICAID for all Not MEDICARE for all –Part II

By Julie Reiskin

October 23, 2017

 

To remind readers, Part I of this blog post from early October began with my statement that I was recently in a discussion with someone about health care policy.  When I shared that CCDC does not support Medicare for All, and that we did not support Amendment 69 during the recent fall elections, there was shocked silence.  “Aren’t you the people always protesting and carrying on about health care?”   Yes-we are.

What follows are several more reasons not mentioned in Part I of this essay that compel CCDC to advocate for “Medicaid for All” as the way to go in health care reform ahead:

 

Medicaid has multiple requirements for public involvement. 

There is a federally mandated advisory council that requires client involvement.   In Colorado, just about every program has a robust public committee that complements other ways for the public to be actively involved.  If one was so inclined, one could go to meetings about Medicaid policy with the state every day of the week.  Nothing happens in Medicaid without an opportunity for public involvement.   This may sound tedious unless your life is altered by how rules are made or enforced.  This level of involvement is impossible on a national level.

As we all know, having lobbyists in DC opining on issues does not translate into understanding of how a policy affects the people.   We are slowly learning about some of the very negative effects of the recently passed 21st Century Cures Act which imposes national mandates on states to impose on Medicaid clients and providers.  The motivation may have been good, but the outcomes are bad.  Working things out on a state level in terms of day to day management of programs works much better than trying to write rules or policies on a federal level for every single issue.    Medicaid currently has national standards; those are clearly met.  The details are often left to the states.  If the states follow the rules, the states are not hassled.  If they fail to follow the rules, they have to answer for that.   Medicare, on the other hand, has no such accountability.   There is no workable process to solve a problem with Medicare in terms of how it works on a day to day issue.

 

There are other differences.

Medicare in some areas does pay better than Medicaid, but if there were more money in Medicaid, rates could be raised.  Over the past ten years, states have worked hard to get Medicaid rates at least close to the Medicare rate.  Most providers accept Medicare, not all take Medicaid—again, if the population on Medicaid increased and rates were increased a bit, that would change.   Some providers that do not take Medicaid have outdated information.  Many years ago, it was true that Medicaid would take forever to pay for services rendered.   That has not been the case for more than a decade.  Medicaid is now one the fastest payers.

 

Finally, and this is very important, Medicaid cannot just take away benefits.

To take away a benefit from everyone, there would have to be a legislative bill which would give people a way to be part of the process, and hopefully a solution.  To take away a benefit from an individual requires a notice, and the right of the beneficiary to have a hearing before a neutral judge. Whoever wants to take the benefit away has to prove that something changed.   One of our big concerns with Amendment 69 was that a board could vote away our benefits if funds were tight.   The board did not have any requirement to have input from the disability community – despite how deeply many of our lives depend on these services.

The Nevada legislature passed a bill that would allow Medicaid for all people in Nevada; those not poor would pay a premium.  Sadly, this was vetoed by the Governor of Nevada.  In Colorado, adults with disabilities have this option—we can buy into Medicaid but only if we have a job and are under 65.   If we lose our job and do not get another one in ten days, our Medicaid disappears.  Even though no one retires at age 65 anymore—this program stops at 65.   Other than those two gaping problems, the Medicaid Buy-In Program works well.  For many people with disabilities buying insurance is useless because we need what Medicaid offers, not what insurance offers.  While we may use doctors, need labs, and need hospitals, we really need LTSS and medical equipment.   Non-disabled people would not need LTSS but they could buy into the regular Medicaid package.

While this is not a national program, and a state-by-state approach carries some dangers of people with greatest needs moving to states with the best benefits, it is a much more appropriate solution than Medicare for all.   Medicare for all sounds good because Medicare does not have the stigma of Medicaid.   However, many advocates of Medicare for All are using this term out of a place of ignorance based on privilege.   Medicare for all will NOT solve our nations’ health care problems.   With a proper federally mandated floor regarding covered benefits, Medicaid for all is the best of all worlds.  Guarantee of health care with state control and allowing states to make reasonable rules and provide the benefits that best work for their populations.   People with disabilities have always been the canaries in the mine of health care.  The people promoting Medicare for All really need to listen to us—or at least, roll a mile on our wheels.

Why We Want MEDICAID for all Not MEDICARE for all –Part I

By Julie Reiskin
October 11, 2017

Recently I was in a discussion with someone about health care policy, and there was shocked silence when I shared that CCDC does not support Medicare for All, and that we did not support Amendment 69 during the recent fall elections. “Aren’t you the people always protesting and carrying on about health care?” Yes-we are. “Aren’t you the ones that are most damaged by pre-existing condition exclusions, lifetime caps, etc., problems that a Medicare for All would solve?” Yes and No. We are most damaged by regressive policies such as pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps—but NO-Medicare for All will not solve the problem.

Medicare is a great program -for basic health care like going to a doctor, getting a blood test, etc. We also absolutely want everyone, disabled or not, to have health care they need. However, Medicare only works today if you are healthy and have either Medicaid to go with it, lots of money, or can afford an excellent supplement. Moreover, Medicare has the most regressive policies that trickle down in a horrible way, making most health insurance unusable for people with disabilities. To top it off, Medicare does not cover what people with significant disabilities need most—which is long-term services and supports.

During our endless national health care debate during 2017, I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs “I don’t need insurance, I need Medicaid.” Since screaming at the top of my lungs only serves to irritate my family or my staff (depending on where I am while screaming), I tweeted it a few times.

Why Medicaid for All instead?

Why Medicaid? Isn’t that the program for poor people—the horrible program that has no good doctors, where you have to wait forever to get anything done? Isn’t that a program with endless red tape?

No program is perfect, and we work closely every day with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing or HCPF (pronounced hicpuff) to make it better. However, for our community Medicaid is the best program, and we want it for everyone. Allowing anyone to buy into Medicaid on a sliding scale rate would make the problems with Medicaid go away. Medicaid has a better benefit package, less red-tape, greater efficiency and much better policies than Medicare. At least in Colorado, this is the case. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership so the federal government sets some of the rules but states have flexibility. When a change is needed for any reason, including a change in medical technology, a change in known best medical practices, or the realization that a rule is making things worse not better, a change happens at the state level. With Medicare, a change requires an act of Congress—and we all know smoothly and effectively the U.S. Congress is working these days. Making a change at a state level usually requires bipartisan support at some level, public input and comment, showing budget neutrality, and going through a process. Change is not immediate but it is possible.

A few other differences:

1) Medicare covers 80% of medical benefits. If you are poor enough to have Medicaid, then Medicaid covers the other 20%. If you are rich enough to afford a good supplemental, then that pays the other 20%. Other people are stuck either with an insurance company that will (maybe) pay the 20% but will restrict what doctor and hospital you can use (along with numerous other impossible rules). Or these other people hope for the best and pay the 20% themselves. As long as one is healthy and has a reasonable income, this works. As soon as one is sick, it does not work. 20% of a lot is still a lot.

2) Medicare is incredibly bureaucratic and complex. The country is divided in regions, and Medicare contracts out “coverage decisions” for various benefits to insurance companies. There are “local coverage criteria” that are very hard to find and they may vary by region in some cases. Medicare rarely pre-authorizes anything. Patients get services; providers are expected to provide care. Weeks or months later, Medicare will decide what portion of this they will pay and what portion the patient must pay. They often deny services because they do not meet some abstract and hidden criteria. Medicaid applicants and recipients, on the other hand, have a right to appeal ANY adverse action. Medicaid recipients can even file an appeal if the agency does not act on a request in a reasonable amount of time. While a Medicaid appeal process may be a bit intimidating, there are people to help and even if you cannot find help, the state office of administrative courts tries to be fair to unrepresented parties. A Medicare appeal process is completely impossible and not even granted for every form of denial. Medicaid has timelines for all sorts of decisions—Medicare has no such timelines.

3) Medicare has antiquated and discriminatory requirements. The worst one is the homebound rule. This applies to home health care and durable medical equipment. This rule basically says that Medicare only covers this service to the extent the beneficiary is homebound. This means the person rarely leaves their home (except for medical appointments) and it requires great difficulty to leave the home.

This is the rule that drives many people with disabilities who have worked and paid into Medicare into Medicaid. With medical technology today, very few people are truly homebound.

Without Medicaid, people with disabilities on Medicare are denied necessary services. They cannot get a wheelchair that works outdoors, because Medicare only covers the kind of wheelchair needed for use in the home. People then get indoor chairs, but use them everywhere and get hit by cars, have the chairs break constantly, etc., because the chairs are not made for real use. Similarly, people with only Medicare are often denied home health care and what they can get is very much in the medical model. To add insult to injury, Medicare sets the stage for insurance; most private insurance companies follow Medicare rules regarding the homebound requirement. It is common medical knowledge that people who stay at home all of the time are less healthy than those that have an active life. Moreover, it is discriminatory and adds to isolation and segregation of people with disabilities. Because Medicare is a federal program, the American’s with Disabilities Act does not apply. Fortunately, the Olmstead Decision in which the Supreme Court said that state and local government programs must work to avoid policies that cause isolation and segregation of people with disabilities because they understood that isolation and segregation ARE discrimination. The ADA requires state and local governments to modify policies, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination – hence, they may NOT impose homebound criteria.

4) Medicare has no long-term services and supports. They do not even pay for nursing homes after 100 days (not that we want nursing home care). There are no services such as personal care, homemaker, supported employment, residential support, transportation, home modification, etc. These services are essential for people with disabilities to function in the community at the highest level of independence. Medicaid is the ONLY “insurance” that provides these essential services. While each state is different, all states offer some long term services and supports. We would support a national requirement for a basic level of LTSS. Most states allow for at least some “participant direction” of services. In Colorado, this means that some clients are allowed to control who comes into our homes, touches our bodies, and has access to every detail of our lives. We are given a budget and must live within it. Within the budget, we can decide what our aides are paid, when they should come and what they should do. This is much preferred than having an agency make these decisions and try to get numerous people services usually desired at the same time. Medicare has no such flexibility (of course they do not have any personal care benefits either).

Additional differences between Medicaid and Medicare and why CCDC advocates for Medicaid for All as the discussion of health care reforms ensues in America in the months to come will be covered in Part II of this blog next week.

New Technology and Sidewalk Safety

Denver Public Works recently launched a one-year pilot permit program for dockless scooter and bike companies. CCDC enthusiastically supports new mobility options that provide safe, healthy, and convenient alternatives to driving. We also believe sidewalks are sacred spaces that should be preserved for people moving 5 mph or slower and remain free from obstructions that impede the movement of people with disabilities. We are advocating for Denver to change its policies to accommodate scooters where they belong – in bike lanes and other places where bicycles are allowed.

To help inform this policy change, if you experience a problem with scooters or other mobility devices on the sidewalk, please report it to the City. Examples include: device left in pathway; struck by device; or having to make a defensive move to avoid being hit. Report an incident to docklessmobility@denvergov.org.

 

HAPPY ADA DAY to all of you!

28 years ago today the ADA was signed into law….and we have seen changes that only dreamed at one point.  When the ADA was passed into law Estrella Rowe, the daughter of Lucinda Rowe, was not even born.   Please enjoy this guest blog written in honor of the anniversary by the parent of someone who continues to benefit from this incredible law that we must still protect.
CCDC is happy that a new generation of leaders, like Lucinda Rowe, are involved.   Lucinda took our advocacy class, got involved as a volunteer and is now a temporary employee.   Thank you, Lucinda, for writing this guest blog!  We welcome others to submit pieces for this Sound Off Blog.

Happy Independence Day !!


ADA Day

Written by Lucinda Rowe
July 26, 2018

ADA Day is significant to my family but most of all to my daughter. Estrella was born prematurely weighing one pound. She was diagnosed with severe Cerebral Palsy at a month old. Continue reading “HAPPY ADA DAY to all of you!”

INDEPENDENCE DAY!

I could not agree more with every one of the sentiments and laments described in so many of the posts and on social media pertaining to the subject of Independence Day I have read from yesterday based on all of our collective current experiences  These same experiences have led to the following: I have literally cried. I have literally laughed out loud (not easy for a quadriplegic). I have believed that the unbelievable wasn’t happening when it has and continues to do so.

Nevertheless, strangely, though, I want all of us People with Disabilities, [1] to know I woke up yesterday morning and this morning with a different thought in my head:

People with Disabilities struggle. We fight. People with Disabilities need the law changed. We change the law. People with Disabilities want to work. We get jobs. People with Disabilities want access to transportation. We access transportation. People with Disabilities want access to housing. We fight like hell to get housing. People with Disabilities don’t like who is in office. We teach politicians, work on campaigns, run for office, and most importantly, we vote. People with Disabilities’ independence is interfered with. We force you to give us the independence you have. Even we, People with Disabilities, have taken to whining. People with Disabilities, stop it!

Here is the question I pose: Are People with Disabilities in the United States of America more independent than we were 28 years ago? The answer to this question is an obvious and resounding, “YES!” Even so, it has been a very rocky ride. It remains a rocky ride. We have an enormous amount of work to do. People with Disabilities, let’s continue to do the work.  Nevertheless, it has paid off. So, keep doing it! (Compare the timeline to the struggle for civil rights of African Americans and people who are black for perspective; what do we have in common? We fight!)

When I broke my neck 32 years ago in the great state of South Carolina, I thought (as almost everyone did then and, still, the majority of people think now), it was over for me. Despite attitudes and barriers, I lived. Despite attitudes and barriers, I went to college. Despite attitudes and barriers, I got a law degree. Despite attitudes and barriers, I humbly submit CCDC and with the help of its Legal Program and all of the current and past cases  (and all of our many friends who have helped, both in the legal community, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, Disability Law Colorado, Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP, Advocacy Denver — to name just a few — and otherwise outside the legal community) have said, “Screw your attitude and your barriers and the Telethon you rode in.” [2] We will be independent. I did not know what a “disability rights” advocate was. And yet I was one. I did not know what the “disability community” was. And yet I became a part of it without even trying. I am and will remain independent! My life will not be restricted to the making the tile trivet the occupational therapist at Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital said was a good use of my time and helpful for my future endeavors.

Yesterday was not the day to spend time wallowing in lost challenges. Today and tomorrow are not the days to spend time being complacent. Today and tomorrow are not the days to say, “Enough is enough; we can’t do this anymore.” We have. We can. We will.

Independence Day is the time to relish the victories. They are many. Hopefully, you put some relish on your hot dog while you were thinking about it. I also think about all of those People with Disabilities who came before me and fought for their independence and mine. I thank you more than you’ll ever know.

CCDC will keep fighting for the independence of People with Disabilities. And so will you. You know it!

In Congress, July 4, 1776 [as amended by this author on July 4 and 5, 2018].

The unanimous Declaration of [People with Disabilities and] the [fifty] united States of America [and all of its unincorporated territories and other possessed lands], When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands [and efforts of all others who have created the need for us to fight for our independence] which have connected them with [those in government and all others who oppose our reality and very existence], a decent respect to the opinions of [hu]mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to [continue fighting like hell for their independence, they will do so].

Declaration of Independence, United States of America.

As People with Disabilities:

  • We declare we will receive all healthcare and attendant care we need.
  • We declare we will work with the supports we might need to do so.
  • We declare we will receive quality education.
  • We declare we will access and use public transportation equally.
  • We declare we will join you in all places of public accommodation on an equal level.
  • We declare we will enjoy all of the same public facilities on an equal level with all other people.
  • We declare we will be provided reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures as needed to ensure our equality.
  • We declare we will have communication that is as effective as communication provided to non-disabled people.
  • We declare we will live in our own homes.
  • We declare we will decide who our attendants are and how they meet our needs.
  • We declare no decision will ever be made about us without our input and involvement.
  • We declare we will represent ourselves and our inalienable rights will be represented in government.
  • We declare you will accept that we are people, entitled to the same inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just as you.
  • We declare we are and will be independent.

People with Disabilities: keep getting off of your asses (so to speak) and do what all People do. If you are prohibited from doing so, make it happen.  As our history demonstrates, we will not sit idly by. We will take action.

Don’t mess with us, because we are going to keep doing it. You have not, and you will not stop us. Stop trying. You won’t win. We are independent. We will stay that way. Fighting for our independence became necessary a long time ago. We have been and are impelled to do so. We will.

Kevin W. Williams, Legal Program Director. Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition,  July 5, 2018

 

[1] Please note that when CCDC talks about “People with “Disabilities,” we are talking about friends, family members, and all of our partners in very many ways who have experienced the same indignities and have rejected the same in the name of independence.

[2] We have also said, “Piss on your Pity!” Frankly. equality means People with Disabilities don’t want anything “trickling down” on us.

Statement on Immigration Actions

As a social justice organization, CCDC agrees with the statements made by our partner CCLP. CCDC is very concerned about all of the children and parents separated. When CCDC supported HB 18-1104 this year to help keep families with disabilities together, we did so out a belief that all families should be given support to stay together because that is the moral thing to do. We are particularly concerned about reports of children with disabilities that might need supports, medical care, or additional attention which they are unlikely to receive in a detention (or any) facility. We are also aware from the experience of children torn away from parents with disabilities due to prejudice that this creates lifelong trauma responses for these children.

 

CCLP Big Logo
Colorado Center on Law & Policy’s Logo, it reads: Forging pathways from poverty
Picture of an immigrant family looking scared
Picture of an immigrant family looking scared

 

Statement on Immigration Actions

The Trump administration callously uses children as pawns in its war on immigrants. First in its repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and now with its policy of arresting everyone who crosses our southern border illegally, the administration cynically inflicts permanent damage on children, punts the solution to Congress and then obstructs every Congressional effort to respond.

These tactics must be called what they are: barbaric, inhumane and fundamentally racist.

President Trump’s executive order allowing children to remain with their parents does not change that assessment. More than 2,300 children have already been separated from their families, and their location and plans to reunite them have not been addressed.

The order appears only to allow children to remain with their parents for the first 20 days. It is unclear whether or when facilities to house families during this period will be available. A solution that addresses housing after the first 20 days is dependent on Congress or the courts — which is by no means a certain path — and the administration has no plans in the case of inaction by these other branches of government.

Even where these issues are resolved, children do not belong in cages; they should not be locked up in any fashion — with or without their parents. And parents fleeing violence and deprivation should not be prosecuted indiscriminately.

Claire Levy
Executive Director
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
Contact:
Bob Mook
Communications Director
Colorado Center on Law & Policy
bmook@cclponline.org
303-573-5669 ext. 311 (office)
303-862-1508 (cell)

Colorado Medicaid Agency Takes Money Away From Medicaid Clients & Denies Due Process Rights to Coloradans With Disabilities

On December 23, 2009, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (“CCDC”) filed a class action lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (“Department”) in the Denver District Court of Colorado requesting that the Court order the State to retract the cuts in the amounts Medicaid clients are entitled to receive to pay for in-home attendant until it is able to implement the cuts without violating the due process rights of Colorado residents with disabilities.  See attached complaint.

This lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed this week by the CCDC against the Department recently.  The other recent lawsuit, filed December 18, alleges the Department failed to insure payment for needed Medicaid services for an individual with multiple disabilities who needs additional in-home services after having a tracheotomy performed and being discharged from the hospital.

The present case alleges the Department is taking money away from Medicaid clients for needed services without giving them notice and an opportunity to appeal the decision in violation of longstanding Supreme Court rulings and federal law regarding due process rights under the United States Constitution.

Since the Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (“CDASS”) program was implemented in 2003, approximately 1,000 Colorado residents with disabilities have enjoyed the ability to manage their own in-home attendant care to assist with activities of daily living.  They are responsible for such administrative tasks as interviewing, hiring, training, supervising, and sometimes firing the attendants of their choosing.

In addition to giving people with disabilities control over their own attendant care, the CDASS program was implemented to save the State money by eliminating the payments to home health care agencies for the administrative tasks that many Medicaid clients are more than capable of performing themselves. The State, in conjunction with the Medicaid client, determines the allotted amount of Medicaid funds each CDASS client can use towards their in-home attendant care.

In September, 2009, according to the Department, due to State budget cuts, CDASS clients’ allocations were reduced by 1.5%.  However, many clients did not receive any notice of this reduction until six weeks later in mid-October, and some received no notice at all.  For some CDASS clients, any reduction they have available to pay for attendant services means they must forego those needed services. Clients were terrified to learn suddenly that they may have gone over budget paying their attendants.   County case workers can impose consequences on clients who over budget that can endanger a person’s independence within the CDASS program.  Over-budgeting can mean they are kicked off the program altogether.

In the first week of December, 2009, CDASS clients received another letter informing them that their allocations were once again being cut, this time by 1%.  Again, some clients received no notice of this change at all.  Those who did receive a letter became very concerned when looking at the numbers stated in the correspondence.  Although the letters stated they would see a 1% decrease, their new allocations reflected a much different scenario.  From what CCDC has learned so far, clients received reductions anywhere from 2.14% to 4.06% (and possibly more) with no explanation of the mathematic inaccuracies, except that some unknown amount of their funding was taken away to pay a new fiscal intermediary service the Department hired, starting December 1, 2009.  This company is Public Partnerships LLC Colorado (“PPL Colorado”).

Many clients are already using every last cent of their monthly allocations, carefully scheduling attendants down to the minute, while minding their responsibility to avoid going over their allocation budget.  It is nearly impossible for CDASS clients to effectively schedule their attendant care without any idea as to the financial limitations to which they are expected to adhere.

The additional, unexplained inconsistent reductions in allocations can only be explained as the payment to PPL Colorado  The Department told clients the change to the new company would have “no affect” on allocations.

The Due Process clause of the United States Constitution, federal and Colorado law require that Medicaid clients receive advanced notice and an explanation of their right to appeal these allocation reductions. By not doing so, the State is violating the due process rights of Colorado residents with disabilities.

CCDC is Colorado’s only statewide disability rights advocacy organization.  CCDC’s mission and purpose include preventing discrimination against people with disabilities, including the forced institutionalization of individuals with disabilities.      CCDC works to ensure that state agencies like the Department provide due process of law when depriving individuals with disabilities of benefits for needed services.  For more information about CCDC go to www.ccdconline.org.

###


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

A+ A-