Information about my law practice concentrating on advocacy for people with disabilities, seniors and their families. Get to know me not only as a lawyer, but my personal interests, passions and family activities.
Republicans on the House budget committee Thursday approved a measure
that says if long-term care for those with developmental disabilities
is kept out of KanCare, then they won't get funding to reduce a waiting
list for services.
The proposal by state Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, flies in the face
of the pleas of hundreds of advocates, parents and those with
developmental disabilities who traveled to the Statehouse one day
They urged Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators to exclude long-term
care services for those with developmental disabilities from KanCare,
which is Brownback's revamped Medicaid system administered by private
They said long-term care, such as daily help with preparing meals or
job coaching, does not fit in the KanCare model, and shouldn't be
overseen by for-profit managed care organizations.
Last week, I wrote about
concerns raised by members of the Consortium for Citizens with
Disabilities and many others about a series recently aired on This
American Life, All Things Considered, and National Public Radio stations
across the U.S. ("Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America").
Eight former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration (SSA) have since released an open letter
in support of the Social Security disability programs. The former
Commissioners also raised concerns with how the series characterized the
"We are deeply concerned that the series 'Unfit for Work'
failed to tell the whole story and perpetuated dangerous myths about the
Social Security disability programs and the people helped by this vital
system. We fear that listeners may come away with an incorrect
impression of the program--as opposed to an understanding of the program
actually based on facts.
"As former Commissioners of the agency, we could not sit on the
sidelines and witness this one perspective on the disability programs
threaten to pull the rug out from under millions of people with severe
Those who live and work with people with disabilities tell a common
tale: As funding has dwindled, the need has increased. People with Down
syndrome, for instance, are living longer than they used to. And as more
people are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, they come out of
school needing help with working, socializing and living independently.
The plea for local funding is also motivated in part by a fundamental
shift in how the state treats residents with disabilities. Under a
series of court agreements in the past two years, state officials agreed
to move people with disabilities from institutional to community-based
housing. That puts greater pressure on local service providers to help
new residents learn to live with their new freedom.
In response, 14 Illinois counties have created tax-supported
development disability boards, as the McHenry referendum proposal's
backers seek to do. The McHenry County Board agreed to place the
proposal on the ballot in response to requests by advocates for the
A similar effort in Kane County was turned down by a County Board
panel. Instead, advocates there are trying to land a spot on the ballot
next year through a petition initiative that requires 18,000 signatures.
aside his rock stardom to focus on global poverty at a Ted talk in
California yesterday, where he joked that he was giving up his "usual
tricks" to focus instead on "evidence-based activism," the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Forget the rock opera, forget the bombast, my usual tricks," said the U2 singer. "The only thing singing today will be the facts. I have truly embraced my inner nerd. Exit the rock star. Enter the evidence activist. The 'factivist.'"
While he's optimistic for the future, he said there's not as much time as there seems. "We
can't get this done until we accept that we can get this done. Inertia
is how we screw this up. Momentum is how we bend the arc of history down
towards zero," he said, joking that 2030 is "only three Rolling Stones farewell concerts away."
"We're going to win because we don't understand politics," Bono said.
"We're going to win because we don't play their dirty games. We're going
to win because we don’t have an agenda. We're going to win because the
tears that comes from our eyes actually come from our hearts. We're
going to win because we have dreams. We're going to win because we are
willing to stand up for our dreams."
Despite a heavy lobbying effort, the Obama administration declined to
include autism therapy in final rules this week defining what must be
covered by insurers under health care reform.
Many states have established mandates in recent years requiring at
least some health insurance plans to include coverage of behavior
therapy to treat autism. But with the passage of the 2010 health care
reform law, advocates were hopeful that a nationwide standard would be
Under the federal law, most health insurance plans will be required
to cover 10 so-called “essential health benefits” starting next year,
one of which is “mental health and substance use disorder services,
including behavioral health treatment.”
Autism advocates urged regulators to include a requirement that
applied behavioral analysis, or ABA therapy, be covered in rules
governing what exactly qualified as a “behavioral health treatment,” but
a final rule issued this week makes no mention of the treatment.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and state health officials on Wednesday
outlined some of the final steps in a three-year effort to create a
health benefit exchange in Maryland as part of the federal health care
Brown, who has been working on health care legislation for Gov.
Martin O’Malley’s administration, testified on a bill to create a
funding source to pay for the state’s health benefit exchange. The
exchange is a new insurance market that will offer residents a choice of
private health plans. The measure would pay for it by using money from
an existing 2 percent tax on insurance plans that are state regulated.
Health policy researchers at the University of
California, San Francisco, who set out to examine conflict of interest
policies for the 47 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia with
Medicaid Preferred Drug List committees, found that many have no policy,
and in the states that do, rules vary widely.
take home message is that there is no such thing as typical. There is
no such thing as a uniformed process," said Lisa Bero, the study's lead
For Medicaid, the federal-
and state-funded insurance program for poor Americans, decisions to pay
for drugs are left up to a state committee that's made up of doctors,
pharmacists and other healthcare professionals.
U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the
federal part of the insurance program, requires that two members of
those committees be free of conflicts of interest, but the agency does
not define what constitutes a conflict.