Statement from Julie Reiskin, ED, CCDC
This week we expect to hear about Medicaid and other state government service cuts. We want everyone to be aware that when news breaks about cuts and changes, often rumors and misinformation become rampant throughout the web and social media. That is why we wanted to let you know ahead of time what we think may be coming and where you can go to trust what you read.
Due to the pandemic, the state is currently showing a budget shortfall of over $3 billion. The Joint Budget Committee and the Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB) are releasing options for the state regarding necessary cuts in services. Most likely, they will release different scenarios-or tiers of reductions.
CCDC will do everything in our power to fight any cut that affects life or liberty. Additionally, we will not allow our community to be disproportionately pushed even deeper into poverty. But, along with everyone else, we will need to accept some changes. We have asked the Medicaid agency to continue to include us in the ongoing discussions, and those in leadership have assured us that we will.
When the memos and documents come out, we will summarize, explain the impact for our community, and, when appropriate, provide commentary regarding the support of these ideas. We must approach this horrible financial situation as a community through leadership and with an equity lens. We have always been the ones to show how to make necessary cuts work. Why? Because we know where there is waste and what is essential.
As soon as available, we will publish this information on our COVID-19 web pages and include them in the update alerts. We ask for your continued feedback to ensure we have a complete understanding of the community needs.
We have multiple ways for you to let us know your thoughts:
Let’s talk about what is going on. (Remember, all our chats and virtual events have closed captioning.)
We also have an ask of you. Please, refrain from engaging in social media campaigns until we know the details of the solid proposals. Remember, some memos will outline possible cuts that may not be up for consideration. Instead, this is one way an agency can tell the legislators about all the possible options. Always check with us before getting too worried.
We are not saying everything will be great, and it won’t be. We are just saying, let’s show our usual community leadership as we respond to this latest problem.
Julie Reiskin and the Staff of CCDC
A letter to the membership from Julie Reiskin, ED.
We wanted to let you know we are watching the budget process carefully and urge calm and attention as the process plays out. There are some very scary cuts proposed, but until we know the state revenue forecast next week and learn if the federal government is going to help, we do not know the true extent of the problem. We also do not know if the legislature will use the emergency provision in the taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) that allows them to impose a tax to help us as a state. They would need 2/3 of the legislature to agree to do this and can do it in various ways that could result in a little more revenue or a lot more revenue.
Even if they can increase the taxes and we get help from the federal government, we will still have to take SOME cuts, but they will not be as devastating as they will be if neither thing happens. We cannot cut our way out of this, but we cannot expect to be exempt from cuts either. So far, for the most part, budgets for our programs are not being cut; they are just not getting increases.
We have people listening to the Budget Committee always, and we are impressed with how thoughtful they are being. They are working very hard at doing the best they can. We urge people to ask us if you have concerns. There is some wrong information going out and some confusing information as the media and others try to digest all of the news coming out rapidly.
An example of wrong information: In the Colorado Sun yesterday, it said that the $1.5 million was cut from a nursing home transition program. No cuts like this have happened. Instead, the projected reduction is for another program with “transition” in its name, which has not started yet.
An example of confusing information: The JBC decided not to run the bill for the Rural Interpreting Services Project or RISP. The funding for the program will still happen; it just won’t be put into the law this year. Because the legislature only has so much time, RISP can continue as a pilot for one more year without causing harm. Some people might read where they removed this bill and think that meant they removed the program.
So we ask for your calm and to check with us before you spread anything on social media that alarms people. We are working in coalition with others to look at the budget issues as a whole. We will immediately sound the alarm bill if we see concrete proposals that affect the life or liberty of people with disabilities. We are deeply saddened and angry about many cuts, but understand the legislature has few choices given our state financial situation. We are in regular communication with the Polis/Primavera administration, state agencies, and the JBC members, so unless the revenue forecast next week is even worse than expected, there should not be any unforeseen cuts coming. We are working hard to increase revenue rather than have to cut benefits.
Please see and share our website on disability-specific issues related to COVID 19 in Colorado.
Covid-19 and People with Disabilities
Julie Reiskin, Executive Director
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition stands with the Black Lives Matters movement to bear witness to the pain of centuries of racial oppression, inequity and white supremacy intensified by recent brutal actions including but not limited to the murder of George Floyd, the flaunting of white privilege by Amy Cooper, and the recent executions of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. (continue reading)
Dear CCDC Members: I have long admired the work of the National Federation of the Blind. I have been at a loss for words and thinking about what to say that is meaningful in light of all that is going on. I still have not found the right words, but the message from the president of NFB is important and I think this is relevant for all disability groups. (continue reading)
Starting this week, Denver is transitioning from the stay-at-home order to the safer-at-home phase. Although residents are no longer ordered to stay at home, we are strongly encouraged to do so whenever possible. However, those considered at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are asked to continue following stay-at-home recommendations, only leaving home for medical care and essential activities. (continue reading)
CCDC has signed on to this letter with other coalition partners. As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to climb in Colorado prisons, several organizations called on Governor Polis today to assert his executive authority and clemency powers to protect the most vulnerable people in prisons before it’s too late. (continue reading)
A letter to the membership from Julie Reiskin, ED. urging calm while we watch the budget process carefully as the process plays out. (continue reading)
CCDC has completed our first review of the budget documents. This is each agency’s projection of what cuts need to be made, and if these are not sufficient what deeper cuts would look like. When reviewing the documents it was clear care was taken to avoid undue consequences to “vulnerable populations”. While we do not like many of these, with a few small exceptions, we can accept them. (continue reading)
Letter from Julie Reiskin to the membership: This week we expect to hear about Medicaid and other state government service cuts. We want everyone to be aware that when news breaks about cuts and changes, often rumors and misinformation become rampant throughout the web and social media. That is why we wanted to let you know ahead of time what we think may be coming and where you can go to trust what you read. (continue reading)
CCDC’s letter to Governor Jarid Polis urging Critical Care Triage guidelines for the state of Colorado. (continue reading)
CCDC’s letter crafted by our Executive Director and several partner organizations to Governor Polis regarding the Survival of People with Disabilities during COVID-19 Pandemic. (continue reading) (Español)
From Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: To ensure better outcomes for our community during this unprecedented time, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is being proactive, compassionate, and conscious in our response to COVID-19.
CCDC members have asked to hear from us about COVID 19 or the Coronavirus, and what it means for people with disabilities in Colorado. This memo will attempt to explain what we know to date. Please be assured that CCDC staff continue working (some from home and all of us safely), advocating, and ensuring the response efforts do not forget people with disabilities.
CCDC has signed on to this letter with other coalition partners
May 8, 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Vanessa Michel, Director of Communications, Office: 720-402-3112
Deanna Hirsch, Media Strategist, Office: 720-402-3122
DENVER – As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to climb in Colorado prisons, several organizations called on Governor Polis today to assert his executive authority and clemency powers to protect the most vulnerable people in prisons before it’s too late. In a letter sent to the Governor, the organizations cited new data proving that his actions to date are insufficient to protect the lives of elderly and medically compromised people in prisons, correctional staff and the community at large.
“It is clear that the [Governor’s] Executive Order was insufficient to address the crisis and that further action is needed now, before more deaths come. We urge you to exercise your substantial power to safely release as many incarcerated people as possible, most particularly incarcerated people who, due to their age and/or medical conditions, are at serious risk of sickness or death from COVID-19. Without your actions, widespread illness, hospitalizations and deaths are inevitable.”
The letter goes on to say that while Colorado’s COVID-19 curve may be flattening for those who are free, the public health crisis is reaching a fever pitch for people who are incarcerated. Testing at the Sterling Correctional Facility, now the site of the state’s 2nd largest COVID-19 outbreak, has confirmed that at least 278 people there — 266 incarcerated people and 12 staff members — have tested positive for the virus, many of whom are asymptomatic. At four other U.S. state prisons, 96% of the nearly 3,300 people who tested positive also showed no symptoms for the virus, further illustrating that simply isolating those who seem sick from those who appear well is not enough to halt the spread. At least one man died from contracting COVID-19 at Sterling — he was 86-years-old.
The ACLU and eight criminal justice and indigent defense organizations sent a letter to the Governor on March 17 urging him to take decisive action to depopulate prisons and jails. The Governor later issued an Executive Order, which granted Colorado Department of Corrections Director Dean Williams the broad authority to consider releasing more than 7,000 people. But that order has been ineffective. More than a month after the Governor’s executive order was issued, the CDOC has only released around 200 people, with over 16,000 remaining behind bars and prisons still at over 90% capacity. So far, at least 25 CDOC staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and 57 are on leave related to possible symptoms or exposure. These numbers, like those at other facilities around the country, are almost certainly a dramatic undercount of the number of infected staff members statewide.
Today’s letter makes specific recommendations for actions by Governor Polis that would substantially and safely reduce the prison population. In following these recommendations, Polis would join the ranks of Governors from a dozen states who have worked to release thousands of incarcerated people on an emergency basis to mitigate disaster, including New York, Kentucky and Maryland. In Colorado, the numbers prove that left to its own devices, the CDOC has not effectively and substantially reduced the prison population and the Governor must intervene.
“Colorado just abolished the death penalty. We cannot keep elderly and medically vulnerable Coloradans incarcerated in prisons that are likely to become their death traps.”
The signatories of the letter are the: Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Physician’s for Criminal Justice Reform, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Center for Health Progress, Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel, Black Lives Matters 5280, Colorado Lawyers Committee, Office of Alternate Defense Counsel, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Civil Rights Education & Enforcement Center, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Working Families Party, Lawyers Civil Rights Coalition, Second Chance Center, Colorado Freedom Fund, Criminal Justice Act Panel Standing Committee and ACLU of Colorado.
ACLU Website regarding Governor Called on to Stop COVID-19 From Becoming a Death Sentence for People in Prisons
The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.View this press release on our website at: https://aclu-co.org/
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Director of Communications
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
303 E 17th Ave., Denver, CO 80203
(720) 402-3112 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Text of the letter sent to the Federal leaders
April 10, 2020
The Chanda Plan Foundation was created when founder, Chanda Hinton’s life was saved by integrative therapies. On her deathbed, at a scant 59 lbs. she was desperate to try anything. Through integrative therapies, Chanda regained her health and felt more alive than she ever had since that life-changing day when she became a quadriplegic. Why in 10 years had integrative therapies not been recommended? Why wasn’t anybody talking about the benefits?
These questions and Chanda’s life-saving outcome fueled the start of the foundation and the mission of improving the quality of life for persons with physical disabilities through direct services and systemic change to access integrative therapies. Listen to Chanda explain the ground-breaking work they are doing!
The Chanda Center for Health: A look at integrated Healthcare
April 23, 2020
Webinar Panelists: Matthew Wynia, MD, MPH Director, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Julie Reiskin, LCSW, Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, Govind Persad, JD, PhD, University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Moderator: Daniel Goldberg, JD, PhD, Center for Bioethics and Humanities.
This event was made possible by the CU Center for Bioethics and Humanities Holocaust Genocide and Bioethics Program which is funded by the William S. Silvers, MD Endowment Fund, the Rose Community Foundation, and JEWISHcolorado.
Crisis Triage and People with Disabilities: Historical Lessons for a Time of Covid
April 4, 2020
Kristen Castor grew up with a disability, and she will tell you if she wasn’t able to do absolutely everything by herself without assistance, she wasn’t going to get anywhere. Well, Kristen has gone many places – from being bussed to a “flat” school, graduating high school, attending college, travel in Europe, and then joining the peace corps, her life experiences are truly amazing. Listen to Kristen share the birth of the civil rights movement in Colorado from someone who was there.
Disability Power in Colorado since 1975 with Kristen Castor
Link to HCPF Colorado’s LTSS Assessment and Support Plan
April 17, 2020
Learn from Susan Niner, former Deputy Director at the Colorado Division of Housing while she discusses low-income housing options, the impact COVID-19 on housing options, as well as reasonable accommodations.
Housing Webinar with Susan Niner
Listen to Brenda Mosby’s talk about her journey through Vocational Rehabilitation as she went from an unemployed newly blind individual to her Master’s degree as a vocational rehab counselor – all through the local DVR. Learn how you can benefit too.
How to Get the Most Out of DVR Part 1
How to Get the Most Out of DVR Part 2
Join Louise Vaughn, Director of HR for Arc Thrift, talk about interviewing and people with disabilities: what are the parts of an interview, how do you handle needing to ask for an accommodation, how do you interview people with disabilities, and so much more. The Arc employs more than 350 people with disabilities – come and learn from the expert.
Interview Tools for People with Disabilities
CCDC Probate Lawyer, Chris Brock talks about the critical documents you need to ensure your medical choices are adhered to. He explains what they are, which are important, and how you can put them in place.
Wills and Advanced Directives
The City is planning a sweep of all the encampments from 20th to 23rd, from Welton to Curtis – there are about 300 people without housing living at these encampments. We are in a State of Emergency with a deadly pandemic spreading across our nation… And THIS is how our Mayor treats people living on our streets who can’t afford his mile-high rent.
The Mayor’s Office LIED: On March 24th the Mayor’s office replied to an email stating it was “correct” that the city “would not be displacing people or their property” during this state of emergency. We are still in a state of emergency with a pandemic spreading across our City. The Mayor’s office lied straight out. How are people on the streets supposed to trust our government when they are lied to like this?
You Can’t “Stay at Home” when Your Tent is Being Swept: The sweep is scheduled for April 30th. The stay-at-home order has just been extended to May 8th. How are people living in tents at these encampments supposed to “stay at home” when the closest thing they have to a home, their tent, is being evicted from public space with nowhere to go?
CDC guidance says Sweeps should NOT take place UNLESS INDIVIDUAL HOUSING is AVAILABLE for all at the encampment: The CDC guidance clearly states the following,
“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.” https://www.cdc.gov/
Where are the 300 housing units for residents of these encampments???
As of yesterday, there were 95 tents in the area planned to be swept. There are between 1 and 5 people staying in each tent, meaning there are about 300 people living outside in this area. In order to follow CDC guidance, stay-at-home orders, and care about human beings, individual housing (i.e. vacant apartments or hotel rooms) must be provided to every person in these encampments before they can be swept. Either housing needs to be given for all 300 people or the sweep needs to be called off.
► Sample letters for both the Mayor and the City Council are on our website. Use this link.
Dear Governor Polis,
We have an emergency situation in Denver. People experiencing homelessness are camped near downtown Denver in part because they feel it is safer than living in a shelter with hundreds of others. For months, Mayor Hancock has refused to provide them with bathrooms or hand-washing facilities. This week, Denver Homeless Out Loud and Mutual Aid Denver came up with funding and placed four portable toilets and hand-washing stations near these encampments. On Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020, this same area was posted for a sizeable multi-block Sweep to take place on Thursday, April 30th, 2020. The Sweep could affect as many as 300 people.
The CDC guidance clearly states the following, “Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This action increases the potential for infectious disease spread.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html ) The planned Sweep directly violates CDC guidance to cities, and it will separate these neighbors from the toilets and hand-washing stations, which provide a minimum amount of safety for them.
We have heard nothing about the City providing an apartment or hotel/motel room to each of the people affected by the Sweep. According to CDC guidance, providing rooms must be done for our neighbors living on our streets so they, too, can shelter at home. Please use your influence or emergency regulatory authority to prevent this Sweep and any others in Denver or across the State until the pandemic is over unless individual housing – hotel/motel/apartments – is provided to the people surviving on the street before the Sweep. You must issue an Executive Order from the Governor’s Office prohibiting Sweeps until this pandemic is declared over.
Thank you for acting to stop the imminent Sweep in Denver and those of other homeless encampments across Colorado.
You may contact Terese Howard, DHOL, at (415) 517-5603 or email@example.com.
Dear Council Members,
The City is planning a sweep of all the encampments from 20th to 23rd, from Welton to Curtis, where approximately 300 people without housing live. On March 24th, the Mayor’s office replied to an email stating it was “correct that the city would not be displacing people or their property during this State of emergency.” We are still in a state of emergency with a pandemic spreading across our City. It appears the Mayor’s office lied straight out.
When the government lies like this, how are people on the streets supposed to trust their leaders?
The scheduled Sweep is for April 30th. The stay-at-home order has just been extended to May 8th. How are people living in tents at these encampments supposed to “stay at home” when the closest thing they have to a home, their tent, is being evicted from public space with nowhere to go?
The CDC guidance clearly states the following, ‘Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease Spread.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-Shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html)
So our question is this: Where are the individual housing units available for the 300 people living at these encampments?
As of yesterday, the Sweep area has 95 tents with between 1 and 5 people staying in each tent. This means there are about 300 people currently living in this area. To follow CDC guidance, stay-at-home orders, and care about human beings, we must provide private housing (i.e., vacant apartments or hotel rooms) to every person in these encampments. Either find housing accommodations for all 300 people or call off the Sweep.
To make housing available for those in the affected area, we need to get on the ball right away. We must identify the units, ensure the appropriateness of each person’s particular needs, and help transport their property to their new house.
In case you did not see our recent quick survey of 64 people who are homeless, found that 87% would choose a hotel room as a first option. Tent camping was the second-best option, and shelter was last. Residents of these encampments want housing!
Please help us ensure no Sweep occurs unless and until appropriate individual housing is available for all 300 people at these encampments. Contact the Mayor’s office and ask where the 300 housing units are for these residents.
Inform the Mayor’s office you do not support a Sweep of these residents unless the can offer real housing for all. If there are not 300 housing units ready for folks to move in, the Mayor must call off the Sweep immediately.
This deadline has passed. If you didn’t file for your dependant children, the stimulus amount of $500 will be available after you file your 2020 taxes.
From IRS.gov: “The IRS has already scheduled payments to taxpayers based on Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs (C&P) benefit payments will be scheduled shortly for payment in mid-May. However, the window has closed to use this tool for these recipients who have a child and don’t normally file a tax return. These recipients who do not receive a payment that includes up to $500 for any qualifying children can file a tax return next year to determine their payment based on 2020 and claim any additional amount they weren’t paid this year.”
We have also received multiple questions about dependant children over the age of 17 and parents claimed as dependents on their adult child’s taxes.
If you have questions about your stimulus payment, check one of these pages for information:
We were just informed there is a deadline of tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 am MST for anyone on specific benefit programs AND who also have dependent children.
Social Security recipients have until noon on Wednesday to file taxes or fill out this non-filer form: Non-Filers: Enter Payment Information. This unexpected deadline is a huge burden on parents with disabilities who are on SSDI and other Social Security recipients, including survivor beneficiaries such as windows and widowers with young children and retirement beneficiaries such as grandparents raising adopted children under the age of 17. The IRS Press Release explains another deadline is coming shortly for parents who receive SSI or VA benefits.