"Enhancing the effectiveness of disability activism by organizing and empowering individuals, families, groups, and organizations!"
Empowerment! Opportunity! Justice!
Need this newsletter in an alternative format? Please let us know!
Points of contact:
Kosloski, 860-635-0695 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jayne Kleinman, 203-631-4800 or email@example.com
For archived Bulletins go to www.ct-dac.org
In This Issue
News from the Collaborative
Charter Oak Update & DD Council Forum
Info on Winter Heating Assistance
People First Meetings & two Autism Workshops
DNEC Book Club and North Star Meeting
MDA Support Groups, Sensory Issues Workshop, and YLF 2008
Transportation News, Nursing Home Diversion Project, & Changes to HUSKY
0-3 Program Evaluation & Ever Hear of CABHN?
National News - News on ADA Restoration Act, Presidential Candidates and Health Care, Funding Nixed for Life Span Respite, MS Scholarship News, "Compassionate Allowances" and Social Security, Medicare Alert, and Employment News
News from the Collaborative
The Disability Advocacy Collaborative has made a number of important decisions over the last three months that will propel it into the New Year and beyond:
· The organization has incorporated as a private, non-profit advocacy group and is applying for federal 501(c)3 tax exempt status
· The Steering Committee has become a Board of Directors
· Transportation has been identified as a 2008 legislative priority
· The second Disability Convention and Expo will be held next fall, prior to the Presidential election
· The organization will continue to support the seven Regional Advocacy Networks that have been established over the last two years
The Collaborative is greatly indebted to the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities for three years of financial support, and to the A.J. Pappanikou Center for the tremendous in-kind support it has provided over the last three years, and will continue to provide throughout 2008.
Special thanks and appreciation is extended to former staffer Jayne Kleinman, who continues to serve the Collaborative as a volunteer, and to Larry Robinson, whose term as a VISTA Volunteer has ended, but who continues as a volunteer working with the Regional Networks that he helped organize in western Connecticut.
Disability Advocacy Collaborative Regional Contacts
To get involved with one of the Collaborative's Regional Advocacy Networks, contact the following:
Northwest -- contact: Bill Knight (firstname.lastname@example.org) - meetings are held at the Litchfield Arc - next meeting: January 9 at 10:30 am Southwest -contact: Carol Kana (email@example.com) - meetings are held at the Norwalk Police Department Danbury Area - contact Dale Brown (WeCAHR) - meetings are held at Ability Beyond Disability in Bethel
North Central -- contact: Candace Low (firstname.lastname@example.org) - meetings are held at 151 New Park Avenue in Hartford - next meeting: January 28 at 10 am Waterbury Area -contact: Mike Valuckas (email@example.com) - contact Mike for information about next meeting Northeast Area - contact: Carolyn Newcombe (firstname.lastname@example.org) - meetings are held at the Mansfield Senior Center - next meeting: January 16 at 6 pm
Update on Charter Oak Plan
Last December Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed a new Charter Oak Health Insurance Plan to address what many call the toughest challenge in health care nationally-bringing health care coverage to uninsured adults. The intent of the new plan is to develop a private-public partnership offering health insurance at an affordable group rate.
In response to inadequacies in the plan as has evolved to date, a coalition has been formed under the leadership of Sheldon Toubman, an attorney at New Haven Legal Assistance. The coalition has discovered the following serious deficiencies in the Governor's plan:
· lack of inclusion of consumer mandates and external appeals procedures
· high co-pays for almost all services
· unreasonably low annual maximum coverage for durable medical equipment ($2000) and prescription medications ($2500)
· lack of public input
· lack of any monitoring once plans are in operation
A public informational hearing was held on December 5 and many concerns were raised by advocates and consumers. The co-chairs of the legislature's Human Services and Appropriations Committees are expected to raise their own concerns about the plan to DSS Commissioner Michael Starkowski. Advocates are hoping they will also ask the Commissioner to delay issuing the RFP - which will determine the insurance companies that will implement the Governor's plan - until these concerns are addressed.
The Disability Advocacy Collaborative has joined the coalition, and urges any concerned citizen to contact Sheldon to stay informed on progress made to address the issues noted above; he can be reached at email@example.com .
DD Council Seeking Public Input
The Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities is seeking input on new Council initiatives for 2008. Comments will help shape the Council's legislative agenda and determine how to use its funds. The public forum will be held at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at the Institute of Technology and Business Development, a division of Central Connecticut State University, located at 185 Main Street in New Britain.
The Council is already committed to supporting the following 2008 legislative agenda and initiatives, but is nevertheless seeking additional public comment:
· Legislation, Regulations and State Plans:
Strengthening controls on using aversives and restraints, especially for children with disabilities Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and inclusive education Emergency preparedness
"Able Lives" with Connecticut Public Broadcasting - $45,000 "Kids As Self Advocates" with the Office of Protection & Advocacy - $32,400 "Life Threatening Public Policy" workshops with the Social Role Valorization Implementation Project - $36,725 "Interactive Robots Symposium and Competition" with Trinity College - $8,500 "Youth Activists" with the Disability Resource Network - $10,000
The Council is also interested in hearing about additional, new 2008 initiatives in such areas as transportation, employment, housing, personal assistants, and grassroots leadership, particularly initiatives that foster self advocate and parent leadership or that require legislative initiatives. The public is welcome to propose other priorities. The Council will use this input to determine new 2008 initiatives.
Inclement Weather: This meeting is cancelled if schools are closed in New Britain. If schools are only delayed in New Britain, this meeting will be held. Snow Date: January 15, 2008.
The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program and the Contingency Heating Assistance Program (administered by the state Department of Social Services and coordinated by regional Community Action Agencies in cooperation with municipal and other non-profit human service agencies) is presently accepting applications for the 2007-2008 winter energy season. These programs are designed to help offset the winter heating costs of eligible households. The goal is to assist eligible Connecticut residents in maximizing potential energy assistance options so that their health is not jeopardized by the inability to meet heating needs.
For referral to an application site near you, please call 2-1-1 (Infoline). If you need a home visit or would like to mail-in the application, inform the worker of your needs when you call to schedule an appointment.
- If you cannot afford the amount the utility company asks you to pay each month, ask for a referral to a social service agency working with the utility that can evaluate you for a lower monthly payment.
- If you heat with electricity from CL&P or UI, or gas from Yankee Gas, SCG or CNG, contact the company and apply for the "forgiveness program." Back bills are forgiven in exchange for making regular, agreed upon payments.
- Protect yourself from a winter shut off by applying for "hardship" status from your electric and gas companies. If your utility service was turned off and you qualify for "hardship" status, the utility company must turn your gas heat service or electricity back on and keep it on through May1. Note that if you are a gas heating customer and your service was on last winter because you were in a "hardship" status, the utility can require you to pay up to $100 to get service turned back on.
- Food Stamp Recipients should ask your DSS worker if the "standard utility allowance" was used; it often results in the household receiving additional food stamp benefits.
- You may be able to get weatherization assistance to help reduce your bills. You can find free conservation assistance at www.CTSavesEnergy.com - click on "for your home" and then click on "low income" and your utility company's name. CL&P Customers can also contact INFOLINE at 211 or CL&P's WRAP program at1-800-388-9727. UI customers can contact UI at 1-203-499-2648 and ask for weatherization assistance. Gas and municipal utilities also have assistance available and can be called directly.
- The Soldiers, Sailors and Marine Fund provides emergency assistance, including help with utility and energy bills, for honorably discharged veterans who served during specific time periods. Spouses and dependent children can also get assistance.
Reminder: As noted in last month's Bulletin there is currently a moratorium on utility service shut-offs for those residents below 150 percent of the federal poverty level from November 1 through April 15.
People First Meetings
Jean Bowen, Advisor for People First of Connecticut, has reported on the winter and spring meeting schedule for People First. The Board meetings are held at The Arc of Southington from 6 - 8 pm, and the State meetings are in different locations throughout the state from 7 - 9 pm:
January 24 Board of Directors - planning on issues for year 2008 February 28 State meeting March 27 Committee meetings April 24 State meeting May 22 Board of Directors June 26 State meeting
For more information contact Jean at advozealot @aol.com.
The Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center (ASRC) and the Division of Autism Spectrum Services within the Department of Developmental Services, have announced a series of workshops to be held at the ASRC offices, 101 North Plains Industrial Road Harvest Park, 1A in Wallingford. The series is for young adults and older adults on the autism spectrum.
The workshops dates, times, and presenters are as follows:
■ HOW TO STAY SAFE
Presenter: Dennis Debbaudt
Date: February 8, 2008
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
■ SEXUALITY TRAINING
Presenter: Lisa Mitchell -
Cody Center, NY
Date: March 22, 2008
Time: 9:30am - 12:30am
■ SELF ADVOCACY TRAINING
(2 Part Training)
Presenter: Zosia Zaks
Author, Life & Love
Dates: January 12, 2008 & March 8th
Time: 9:30am - 12:30am
There is limited space for each of the workshops so register early! For more information, call ASRC at 203-265-7717 or visit www.ct-asrc.org.
Behavior Strategies for Individuals with Autism
The Autism Project of the Kennedy Center in Trumbull will present a two-part workshop on behavior strategies for working with individuals with autism on January 24 and February 7 at the Kennedy Center, 39 Lindeman Drive in Trumbull. Both workshops will run from 6 - 9 pm.
Presentations will be made by Stacy Hultgren, Autism Project Manager at the Kennedy Center, and Nicole Rivera, M. Ed., the Center's Senior Behaviorist & Autism Specialist.
There is no fee for parents or caregivers. For more information, or to register, call (203) 332-
4535 or go to the Kennedy Center's web site: www.thekennedycenterinc.org.
Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities Forum
A forum on non-verbal learning disabilities will be held on
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Norwalk City Hall - 125 East Ave, Room A333 in Norwalk. For map and
directions go to: http://tinyurl.com/2vcb4t. A presentation will be made by Scott Bezsylko, Executive Director, Winston Preparatory Schools,
Norwalk, CT and New York City, NY.
The forum is co-sponsored by NorwalkSEEKS.org and CACLD (CT Association for Children & Adults w/Learning Disabilities). For more information or to RSVP,
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (203) 846-2501.
The Keep the Promise Coalition has a new newsletter and a new Coordinator. Cheri Bragg came on board the mental disability advocacy group as Coordinator in October and eagerly assumed her new responsibilities. Cheri formerly worked at the Genesis "We Can" clubhouse in Manchester. Jan Van Tassel, Esq., Executive Director of CLRP, is one Co-Chair of KTP and Sheila Amdur of NAMI-CT is the other.
The purpose of the Coalition is to "advocate for the 'Blue Ribbon Solutions' needed to maintain and expand the critical mental health services for adults and children in Connecticut" and to "build the bridge to support, respect, and recovery".
The Coalition meets from 10 am - 12 pm on the third Wednesday of the month in the Region 2 Conference Room in Shew Hall at CVH in Middletown. The next meeting will be on January 16 and anyone interested in mental health issues is invited to attend.
To sign up to get KTP e-mail alerts as well as their newsletter send a request to email@example.com.
DNEC Sponsors Book Club
The Disabilities Network of Eastern Connecticut has announced their sponsorship of a Book Club discussion of "One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest". The event will be held on Monday, January 7 from 6 - 7:30 pm in the Community Room of the Otis Public Library in Norwich. To participate call Carrie at 860-823-1898.
To quote from the announcement of this event: "Ken Kesey may well be the 'Great American Novelist'. From LSD to the PTA, Ken Kesey never stopped questioning authority. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey challenges our idea of 'insanity'. A startling look at life in an institution based on his actual experiences working in Menlo Park Veteran's Hospital, Kesey asks us to question our labels, and to think of mental illness in a different way. Come discuss this incredible book with us. Call if you need an accommodation."
North Star January Meeting
The North Star Parent Support Group for families of children with disabilities will welcome Shannon Knall at its next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, January 23 from 7 - 9 pm at the First Congregational Church, 137 Derby Avenue in Derby. The snow date is January 30. Shannon is Co-Chair of the "Autism Speaks Greater Hartford Walk Now for Autism", and a Mom to a son with autism. If you are interested in attending, RSVP by January 16 to 860-217-0440, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will also be a brief screening of the award-winning documentary "Autism Every Day", which will provide a glimpse of life with autism. Janet Haley, District Wide Autism Consultant for the Town of Simsbury, will also be presenting on the key components of an individualized educational program.
Questions? Call Cathy Adamczyk at North Star: 860-869-6021 or 203-735-6098 or email@example.com.
MDA Support Groups
The Connecticut Muscular Dystrophy Association holds support groups for individuals with ALS as well as general MD support groups that meet monthly. For more information contact Elissa Edson, Health Care Service Coordinator, at 860-633-4466 or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The national MDA web site is: www.mda.org/
Workshop on Sensory Issues
The Family Support Network of the South Central Region is proud to welcome the Talcott Center's presentation on "Building a Better Understanding of Sensory Integration Dysfunction". The event will be held on January 17 at 6:30 pm (6:00-6:30 pm for refreshments and networking). It will take place at the Italian-American Social Club, 40 Hamre Lane in Branford.
Interested parties should RSVP by January 14th to Tesha Imperati, South Central Regional Coordinator of the Family Support Network at 203-234-3983 (home office) or 203-710-3041 (cell) or e-mail her at email@example.com .
There's Still Time to Apply for YLF 2008!
Karen Halliday, Executive Director of the Connecticut Youth Leadership Program, has announced that applications are available now in Connecticut high schools for the 2008 Youth Leadership Forum. The deadline for students to apply is January 11.
The Forum, in its 10th year, will bring together forty high school students with disabilities from throughout Connecticut for a four-day training forum focusing on enhancing their leadership skills. YLF is open to current high school sophomores and juniors. It will be held July 21 - July 24, 2008 at the University of Connecticut, Storrs campus.
YLF delegates will explore personal leadership skills, define career goals and leave the forum with a very specific action plan that describes what they will do back in their local communities to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Students who are accepted to YLF will be required to attend follow-up sessions after the forum to implement their Community Action Plans.
It is the goal of the YLF planning committee to select students from all regions of Connecticut, who represent a wide range of disabilities and ethnic backgrounds. Copies of the application can be down loaded by logging on to the YLP website - www.ctylp.org . Completed application packets must be postmarked by January 11, 2008 and mailed to the address noted on the application.
Going Beyond the ADA in Connecticut
The Locally-Coordinated Public Transit-Human Service Transportation Plan (LOCHSTP) is now in their Phase 2 Service Initiative─"Going Beyond the ADA in Connecticut." The Connecticut Department of Transportation has conducted service planning efforts, similar to but more comprehensive than the effort used to design the package of services that are now being implemented under the Governor's Service Initiative. To accomplish this goal, Transit for Connecticut (TFC) has held five listening session around the state to collect thoughts from the public about how we can improve public transportation and how we can develop a larger base of support for bus services. Presently sessions are being held in each of the five regions to gather ideas raised in the listening sessions and to define the other unmet service needs and other gaps in service from other partners.
For more information and details please go to: www.ct.gov/dotinfo/lib/dotinfo/safety/coordplan.pdf
DSS Receives Nursing Home Diversion Modernization Grant
The Connecticut Department of Social Services and its State Unit on Aging, in partnership with the Area Agency on Aging of South Central CT and community providers, will operate "Choices at Home" with the goal of helping consumers who are at high risk of nursing home placement but not yet eligible for Medicaid to remain in their own homes. The objective of the grant is to provide consumers in the South Central Area with flexible service options utilizing a "Cash and Counseling Model" (C&C), utilizing funds from the Federal Caregiver and State Respite Care Programs. Additional goals include the development of a single entry point system, a process evaluation, and a model comprehensive performance measurement program.
A expected outcome of the grant is that change can be sustained beyond the grant period and incorporated into the state's overall system of long term care and rebalancing effort. Other expected products include an expanded long term care website, an assessment tool, a screening tool, training manuals, web-based training materials, an educational video and pod casts, evaluation results, and a cadre of trained staff, consumers, and providers.
The project period is from October 1, 2007 to March 31, 2009. For more information contact Margaret Gerundo- Murkette, 25 Sigourney Street, Hartford, CT 06106, 860-424-5322, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Husky Administrative Changes
The administration of HUSKY health care programs in Connecticut is undergoing major changes as the result of an order from Governor M. Jodi Rell earlier this month. The Governor's decision was prompted by the refusal of two of the managed care organizations to comply with "Freedom of Information Law" requirements that they disclose the rates that they pay to providers. The order terminates many of the managed care responsibilities for the four HUSKY health plans-Anthem, Health Net, Community Health Network, and WellCare. However, the Department of Social Services (DSS) will continue to contract with the managed care organizations to continue to carryout membership services and other administrative duties.
DSS itself will now be responsible for authorizations for coverage, payment levels for individual medical providers, and other functions related to determining the level of health care provided in the program. Eligibility rules and benefits remain unchanged. If you are a HUSKY participant and experience problems getting health care, contact Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 for assistance. More information on transition plans should be available by the end of December. Check the Legal Resource Center of Connecticut (LARCC) website (www.larcc.org) for more information.
Connecticut's "Birth to Three" Program Being Evaluated
The Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, in collaboration with Connecticut Voices for Children, is conducting an evaluation of the state's "Birth to Three System." The purpose of the evaluation is to develop an understanding of the service structure and the quality of services provided in order to identify the strengths of the system as well as areas in need of improvement.
The evaluation will occur in two phases.
- Phase One of the evaluation will include a review of the overall system that will result in a short report that will highlight areas of concern and success, identify specific challenges to administering the Birth to Three System, and list important questions for future research.
- Phase Two of the evaluation will provide an in-depth look at areas identified in Phase One as requiring further investigation, and will include the experiences of children and their families, as well as providers. A more detailed report will outline policy recommendations and a plan of action.
For more information, visit the Office of the Child Advocate's web site www.ct.gov/oca, which will be updated periodically.
Ever Heard of CABHN?
The Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs (CABHN) is a statewide network of over 3,000 organizations, including social service providers, advocates, religious organizations and individuals concerned about issues affecting people with low income. CABHN was formed in 1992 to support and promote advocacy on welfare-related issues. CABHN members represent a diverse range of expertise, interests, and experience and share a common goal of making welfare work for participants and taxpayers. They encourage the sharing of information and strategies to help advocates maximize their energy and resources.
CABHN services include community outreach and workshops for both staff and clients of social service programs throughout Connecticut, educational materials, and a free monthly newsletter─"CABHN Fever"─ which provides up-to-date information for providers, individuals, grassroots organizations and individuals on welfare-related issues. They also hold monthly meetings around the state featuring speakers on topics of interest, and updates on legislation, policies and programs. For more information, or to sign up to receive CABHN Fever, contact Jane McNichol 860-278-5688, ext 201, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
News from Justice for All
Monday, December 17, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce "and friends" were up to no good, faxing every Member of Congress with a message that the ADA
Restoration goes too far with civil rights - that it expands protections beyond what Congress ever intended and, in essence, that the ADA was only ever truly
intended for the "severely disabled." Their mischaracterizations of the legislation are not new, but the list of signatories
on this particular communication has grown to include numerous others (see below).
There are a few things we can all do over the holidays to show support of the ADA Restoration Act:
1) Visits & Calls during the Recess
Members of Congress will be at home during the Christmas recess. If possible, arrange for visits with members and their staff, and make sure the message from the disability community is heard loud and clear - the ADA is not protecting scores of people with disabilities from illegal discrimination because of narrow court interpretations of the law by the Supreme Court. People Congress clearly intended to cover under the ADA are now being told they aren't "disabled enough" to have civil rights!
2) Opinions / Editorials
Local op/ed pieces written by advocates that highlight real life stories of discrimination to show the need for restoration of the ADA would also powerfully impact Members of Congress while they're home.
3) Letters to the Opponents
Advocates can also write the signatories of this latest opposition letter, expressing disappointment for their opposition as well as their failure to contact people with disabilities - those most affected by the law - about why they feel restoration is necessary. After all, many of us are employers, too, and we embrace the ADA!
Read theletter of response from the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to the original letter of opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Visit theADA Restoration blog for background materials, the text of the legislation, and more information on the need for ADA Restoration.
If you are able to meet with Members or their staff over the holidays or to get any op/ed piece published, please notify AAPD at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share this information with national coalition members.
Opposed to The ADA Restoration Act:
Associated Builders & Contractors
Food Marketing Institute
HR Policy Association
International Foodservice Distributors Association
International Franchise Association
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Association of Manufacturers
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Federation of Independent Business
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation
National Roofing Contractors Association
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Society for Human Resource Management
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
What Candidates Say about Health Care and Our Future
Affordable, quality health care and long-term financial security are two issues that Americans care deeply about in the 2008 presidential election. AARP's "Divided We Fail" campaign has produced In Their Own Words, a guide that contains the candidates' own words on these important issues. The statements listed come from candidate websites, speeches, books and campaign literature and from candidate answers to questions at events around the country; statements are organized by the Divided We Fail platform principles. Prior to publication, each candidate was asked to review their statements to ensure accuracy. To view the guide, go to www.aarp.org/issues/dividedwefail/elections/the_candidates.html.
No Funding for Lifespan Respite in '08
The following description of what happened to respite funding in the recently passed federal budget is indicative of the hits many disability programs took in the recently passed federal budget. Reminder to all - 2008 is an election year!
"As you know, the original FY08 funding bill agreed to by both the House and Senate in November included $2 million for Lifespan Respite. This bill was vetoed by the President and the House failed to override the veto.
A new attempt was made to draft a bill the President would agree to sign and it came up for a vote this week. I am sorry to report, that despite our best efforts, funding for Lifespan Respite was not included in this final FY 08 Omnibus appropriations bill. The bill passed the House on Monday and the Senate late Tuesday night. There were no opportunities for amendments -- again despite our best efforts. The results are devastating for health, social service and education programs that have lost funding over the last six years. Most new programs lost funding and all programs sustained cuts of at least 1.74% across the board -- many suffered greater cuts -- in order to meet the President's budget request and avoid another veto. After going back to the House for a final vote, the President is expected to sign this bill as the Senate added funding for the war in Iraq as well."
Jill Kagan, MPH
Chair, National Respite Coalition
MS Scholarship Application Now Available
There is still time to apply for 2008 National MS Society scholarship. The application deadline is Monday, Jan. 15. Those eligible include:
· High school seniors who have a parent with MS who will be attending an accredited post secondary school for the first time
· High school seniors who have MS and will be attending an accredited post secondary school for the first time
· High School (or GED) graduates of any age who have MS and who will be attending an accredited post secondary school for the first time
· High School (or GED) graduates of any age who have a parent with MS and who will be attending an accredited post secondary school for the first time.
Go to: www.nationalmssociety.org/site/PageServer?pagename=HOM_SOCIETY_scholarship_faq for more information about eligibility requirements or click here to download an application.
Social Security Holding Hearings on "Compassionate Allowances"
The term "compassionate allowances" refers to a strategy the Social Security Administration plans to use to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under Social Security's Listing of Impairments based on minimal objective medical information. According to a press release from SSA, compassionate allowances will let Social Security quickly target the most obviously disabled individuals for allowances based on objective medical documentation that can be obtained quickly. Many of these claims can be allowed based on confirmation of the diagnosis alone; for example, acute leukemia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and pancreatic cancer. In these cases, allowances can be made as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed or the other necessary objective medical evidence is obtained.
The first of four hearings with some of the nation's leading experts on rare diseases was held on December 4 and 5 in Washington, DC. Testimony from the hearing is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov. The experts presented testimony and shared their views about Social Security's efforts to identify and implement "compassionate allowances" for children and adults with rare diseases.
Alert to Medicare Beneficiaries!
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are continuing to encourage all Medicare beneficiaries to review their current health care coverage and ensure they are in a plan that will best meet their needs in 2008. Beneficiaries who wish to enroll for the first time or change their coverage for 2008 should do so as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition in the New Year. The annual open enrollment period began on Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 31, 2007. In addition, for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans only, beneficiaries can make one change in enrollment -- enrolling in a new plan, changing plans or canceling a plan -- between January 1 and March 31, 2008 (though beneficiaries cannot join or drop Medicare drug coverage during this time).
Before beneficiaries call the toll free Medicare number (1-800-633-4227, TTY: 1-877-486-2048) they should first review the following tips:
· Write down in advance any questions you want to ask along with information about your current health or prescription drug plan;
· Have your current medications in front of you;
· Have your Medicare card since you'll need your Medicare enrollment number to access the help line's information; and
· Avoid the help line's busiest days, Mondays and Tuesdays, and the peak call hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Medicare has more than 3,000 customer service operators available in eight toll-free call centers located across the United States who are prepared to provide help in English and Spanish.
National Job Board Dedicated to Including Employees with Disabilities
As many readers know, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is ten times greater than the national unemployment rate. In fact, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, about 30 million Americans between the ages of 16-64 have a disability, and only 18 million are currently employed. This leaves a 44.2% unemployment rate within the disability workforce, a strong contrast to the national unemployment rate of 4.7%.
A new national job board has been launched dedicated to including disabled employees in today's workforce. AccessibleEmployment.org is designed to provide employers with one central place to post employment positions and search resumes of qualified disabled candidates. In addition, the web site also allows potential job candidates to post their resumes for review by prospective employers who have made a commitment to include people with disabilities in their workforce. For more information go to: AccessibleEmployment.org or contact Michael Schneider at 973-868-1000.
Dept. of Labor and CVS Promote Alliance for Employment
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and CVS Caremark Corp. have established a two-year nationwide alliance to promote employment of people with disabilities. The effort will include technical assistance, training and education, outreach and communication. ODEP and CVS Caremark will share information, guidance and resources that will help to develop model programs for other employers, particularly in the retail and pharmacy services industries.
During the two years of the pact, CVS Caremark and the ODEP will jointly distribute training and education materials and information on disability employment practices to the company's human resources leaders, and will collaborate to identify technical-assistance resources for workplace accommodations. They also will disseminate information, via a variety of methods, to promote a national dialogue on disability employment issues. A plan of action is being developed by a joint implementation team comprising representatives of both organizations.
The federal Office of Disability Employment Policy is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Alliances with the ODEP are open to public-sector and private-sector organizations wishing to work with the agency to enhance their recruitment, hiring and advancement of people with disabilities. To learn more, visit www.dol.gov/odep.
This Bulletin is supported by a grant that the Disability Advocacy Collaborative has received from the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities. In addition, in-kind support is being provided by the UCONN Center on Disabilities, and Communitas, Inc. serves as the project's fiscal agent. To all three we extend our deep appreciation.