June 28, 2019
VOR Weekly News Update 
VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
VOR promises to empower you to make and protect quality of life choices for individuals with developmental disabilities

VOR Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the
Supreme Court's Decision in Olmstead
June 22 was the 20th Anniversary of the Olmstead Decision, a milestone in disability rights and in the protection of our most vulnerable citizens.

VOR's Becky Japko has produced a short, 3-minute video, illustrating key provisions in the Court's decision.

VOR's 2019
The materials that we shared with Congress, and the state reports presented at the conference are available for download on our website

For pictures from the conference and our visits to Capitol Hill,
please visit our Facebook page: /vor

Videos of our three speakers' presentations coming soon!
National News:
Last week, we reported on the House of Representatives passing the renewal of Money Follows the Person, sending it on to the Senate.

VOR has long objected to the way this bill has been, and will continue to be, used to shutter long-term congregate care facilities and limit choice in residential care.

Below is the 'mainstream' perspective on the program's renewal. VOR disagrees with this assessment, but we share it with our readers nonetheless.


House Votes To Renew Program Helping People Leave Institutions
By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, June 25, 2019

Following years of uncertainty, federal lawmakers are working to renew a popular Medicaid program that moves people with disabilities from institutions into the community.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 371 to 46 last week to extend the so-called Money Follows the Person program for four and a half years.

The federal program offers states money to cover employment supports, housing and other services so that individuals with disabilities can transition from nursing homes and other institutional facilities to homes in the community.

Trump Signs Law Improving Disaster Planning For Those With Disabilities
By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, June 26, 2019
The federal government will be required to do more to consider the needs of people with disabilities when hurricanes, fires and other disasters strike under a new law signed by President Donald Trump.

The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act, which was signed by the president this week, calls for the creation of a national advisory committee specifically focused on disaster planning for those with disabilities.

Comprised of government officials, health care professionals and people with disabilities, the committee will be tasked with reviewing federal policies and making recommendations to ensure
that the needs of people with disabilities are properly factored in disaster planning.

“No American should ever feel like they might be left behind or forgotten when disaster strikes,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who proposed the advisory panel and who has a disability himself. “By including people with disabilities as advisors during disaster planning and policy development, this bill ensures that the unique needs of this vulnerable community will be included.”

International News:
Ireland: 'It's Life or Death': Man Pleads for Residential Care for Brother with Special Needs
By Denise O'Donoghue, Breaking News Ireland, June 26, 2019
A man who is a full-time carer for his younger brother has made an emotional appeal for a place in residential care for his sibling.

Colin Grassick, 22, has Prader Willi Syndrome and autism.

Prader Willi Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes the affected person to become constantly hungry, which often leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Conor, 26, has been his brother's sole carer since their mother, Ann, passed away last year.
Conor said the HSE promised a place for Colin in residential care after Ann passed away from cancer but this has yet to happen due to funding issues.

"It's turned out that we need a plan and come up with a figure of €240,000 plus what Colin is getting," Conor told RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline.
"We were promised and told that it would be up by January 2019 and I'm stuck still with Colin at home. The problem is funding.

"We were promised all year [that Colin would get a place in residential care in] January, then I was promised April, then I was promised June and last Friday I received an email that it was funding that's the problem and that the funding that Colin has isn't enough. We need more money now."

Colin has gained seven stone since Ann died, is self-harming due to anxiety, and wants to go into residential care as he feels he needs care and routine.

"The care at the moment is not ideal. It's not working, The carers aren't equipped for Colin's special needs.

State News:
California - Costco Shooting is Worst Nightmare for Families of Developmentally Disabled Children
By Laura Newberry, Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2019
Anytime there’s a shooting in the news, dread floods Lillian Vasquez.

“Please,” she thinks, “let the victim not be someone with autism.”

Vasquez, whose 25-year-old son is moderately autistic, was dismayed to learn Sunday that a young man with a cognitive disability was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a Costco in Corona, half an hour from her home.

The man who was killed, Kenneth French, pushed the officer while waiting in a line for samples, according to his family’s lawyer and the LAPD. An attorney for the officer says he was briefly knocked out after the attack.

“I fear people are going to be afraid of people with autism when things like this happen,” said Vasquez, vice president of the Autism Society Inland Empire.

While developmentally disabled people are no more likely to act aggressively than the general population, advocates say, dealing with public meltdowns and socially inappropriate behavior is a
constant reality for many caregivers. And for the most part, they’re well-versed in how to ease the anxiety that triggers such flare-ups.

But the Costco shooting underscores the need for greater understanding of disability among law enforcement and society at large, according to advocates.

“If you see someone acting in a way that seems bizarre or doesn’t make sense to you, try to step back and view it from a different lens,” said Donna Norum, chief programs officer of day services for OPARC, a nonprofit that helps disabled people function in the world. “There may be more to this story than you realize.”

What exactly happened at Costco on June 14 is unclear. Surveillance video hasn’t been released, and the incident is still under investigation.

Kentucky - Former Somerset Caregiver Pleads Guilty to Abusing, Neglecting Adult
By Kate Smith, WYKY-FM, June 26, 2019
Attorney General Andy Beshear and his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse today announced the guilty plea of a Pulaski County woman on one count of knowingly abusing or neglecting an adult, a Class C felony.­­

Ashley Grimes, 23, of Somerset, pleaded guilty in Pulaski Circuit Court June 20, acknowledging the abuse of a resident at the CAKY Somerset in Pulaski County, where she worked as a direct care professional. On July 28, 2018, Grimes sat on the victim while the victim was on the floor.
Grimes will be sentenced to a term of seven years with 30 days incarceration with the remainder to be probated. As part of her plea agreement, Grimes also agreed to be placed on the Kentucky Caregiver Misconduct Registry.

“I am proud of the investigators and prosecutors that secured justice in this case,” Beshear said. “Not only will the defendant serve jail time for her actions, she will be listed on our state’s caregiver misconduct registry.”
Grimes is scheduled to be sentenced July 18 in Pulaski Circuit Court.
This case was investigated by the Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office along with the Department for Community Based Services, Adult Protective Services. The case was prosecuted by Beshear’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse.

Over the past three years, the division’s work has contributed to more than 60 convictions related to Medicaid provider fraud or patient abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Texas - Lubbock State Supported Living Center Celebrates 50 Years of Service
From Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, HHS Executive Commissioner, June 26, 2019

The Lubbock State Supported Living Center is commemorating its 50 years of service on Friday with a daylong celebration for residents, staff and the community. Festivities include a parade, a ribbon cutting ceremony, tours of the center and a display of historical memorabilia that will be open to the public.

"I'm very proud of all the people who work to make the Lubbock SSLC such a positive, vibrant place our residents can call home," said Scott Schalchlin, HHSC Associate Commissioner for SSLCs. "From the front-line staff to the managers, from volunteers to families and friends, everyone comes together to enrich the lives of the people we serve, giving them the best opportunity to lead meaningful, independent lives."

"Congratulations to the Lubbock State Supported Living Center's 50th anniversary," said Sen. Charles Perry. "SSLCs provide a place for the most vulnerable populations to receive around the clock care. In many instances, they are the best setting for 24/7 care and oversight for individuals with high-level medical needs."

Lubbock SSLC opened its doors to the community on June 26, 1969. Sitting on 226 acres, the center serves the 54 counties of the state's South Plains and Panhandle regions. Today, its 800 employees provide services including 24-hour residential care, medical services and vocational training to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. More than 180 people call the center home.

South Carolina - Women Get Prison For Roles In $13M Behavior Therapy Fraud
By John Monk, The State via Disability Scoop, June 27, 2019

Two South Carolina women were ordered to federal prison this week for their roles in a federal health care fraud in a long-running illegal scheme where a company falsely billed government health insurance programs for some $13 million for supposed care for children with autism.Magistrate Judge Paige Gossett gave Angela Keith, 53, one year in prison, and Ann David Eldridge, 58, six months in prison. Both live in Sumter.

Had they not pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor charges of making false statements to federal health programs Medicaid and Tricare, the government could have tried them on felony fraud charges. If they had been convicted, each stood to receive a minimum sentence of about four years in prison.

Victims in the case included taxpayers, people who are forced to pay higher health care premiums because of fraud and children with autism who lost out on getting treatment when the perpetrators submitted bills for care they didn’t get, assistant U.S. Attorney DeWayne Pearson told the judge.

Their former company, the Early Autism Project, is one of the largest childhood autism providers in South Carolina. The defendants made illegal profits out of filing false claims for non-existent treatment of children with autism covered by Medicaid and Tricare, according to evidence in the case.

At the time of the illegal scheme, from about 2009 to 2016, the “culture and the climate of the Early Autism Project was such that everyone (who worked there) knew the billing practices were fraudulent,” Pearson told the judge. As part of the fraud, employees forged parents’ signatures saying they had received the therapy that the company was billing the government for, he said.

Medicaid Managed Care:
Iowa - Auditor: Medicaid Managed Care Companies Violated Contracts by Encouraging Nursing Homes for Quadriplegics
By Kimberly Marselas, McKnights Long-Term Care News, June 27, 2019

Two insurance companies that manage Medicaid in Iowa have breached their government contracts, according to the state’s auditor.

Rob Sand has referred two cases he is investigating to the state Department of Human Services, charging that two beneficiaries who are quadriplegic had their home care services reduced and were told to move into nursing homes.

At a press conference, Sand said the practices of Amerigroup Iowa and UnitedHealthcare could indicate “serious concerns” for the state’s broader Medicaid program.

“There’s a 267-page contract these (managed care organizations) signed with the state of Iowa,” Sand said, according to an article in The (Cedar Rapids ) Gazette. “I don’t care if a Democrat or Independent or a Republican, that contract is their obligation to the state, it’s their obligation to the people of Iowa. If they can’t do the bare minimum described in that contract, then they’re going to have problems.”

Kentucky - KY Insurer Cuts 29 Staffers
By Kelly Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, June 21, 2019

Passport Health Plan, a health insurance company controlled by healthcare providers in Louisville, Ky., has cut its staff by 29 ahead of plans to sell a majority stake to health plan administrator Evolent Health, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Passport is a nonprofit, community-based health plan that manages Medicaid services in Kentucky.
In May, the company announced it will sell 70 percent of its stake to Evolent for $70 million. Evolent said it will invest money into Passport, which is controlled by the University of Louisville and two affiliates, Norton Healthcare and the Louisville-Jefferson County Primary Care Association.

Passport spokesperson Ben Adkins told the Courier Journal the staff cuts are "a difficult but necessary step to reposition the organization for the long-term future."

Passport has been hurting financially amid state Medicaid payment cuts.

A Critique of the Proposed Disability Integration Act
By Jill Barker, mother of Danny and Ian Barker, The DD News Blog, June 27, 2019

The Disability Integration Act (DIA) of 2019 is a bill that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate ( S. 117) and in the U.S. House of Representatives ( H.R. 555) “to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and supports, and for other purposes.” Discrimination on the basis of disability is already prohibited under numerous laws, regulations, and court decisions going back to the 1970’s. It is the “other purposes” of the proposed law that can cause harm for many people with disabilities.

The DIA attempts to promote and impose an ideology of full inclusion on all people with disabilities. It envisions “full integration in the community” for everyone, regardless of their need for specialized treatment and care or their preferences for how and where services are delivered. Most people with disabilities may desire “full integration in the community”, but that desire does not assure that needed services and residential options will be available. For some, a fully integrated life in the community may not be possible or desirable, in light of the full range of need and the diversity of people with disabilities.

In the disability community, there are fierce debates over how and where people with disabilities should live and receive services. The DIA does not reflect my perspective and that of many others who have family members with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Missing from the debate so far are people with disabilities and their families who rely on and benefit from the programs, services, and residential options that this bill would eventually eliminate.

The advocacy groups that worked on this legislation are ideologically opposed to institutions and all other congregate residential or work settings, regardless of the needs or preferences of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Let me introduce you to my sons, Danny and Ian
VOR Bill Watch:

VOR Members met with legislators and aides in their offices on Capitol Hill earlier this month, to present their objections to the Disability Integration Act , and the attempts to eliminate facility based work centers and 14(c) wage certificates in The Raise the Wage Act and The Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. We also asked our legislators to support The Autism CARES act and The HEADs UP Act.

Currently, despite the aggressive and confrontational tactics employed by ADAPT, (who co-authored the bill) the Disablity Integration Act appears to be stalled in committee. VOR encourages its members to speak out ( politely ) to legislators to voice your objections to this bill. As a result, ADAPT has increased their harassment of legislators who stand up against their goal of closing congregate care facilities.

Meanwhile, attempts to eliminate 14(c) and facility based work opportunites continue. The recent public forum from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), saw hundreds of impassioned letters from families of individuals who enjoy these opportunities, and who would be ineligible for competitive integrated employment if the work centers were shut down.

Support for the Autism CARES Act continues to increase. We hope that legisltors sigining on to this bill will understand the need for support for ALL people with intellectiual disabilities.

Click on blue link to view information about the bill


H.R. 1058 & S. 427 - The Autism CARES Act - To reauthorize certain provisions of the Public Health Service Act relating to autism, and for other purposes

H.R. 2417 - The HEADs UP Act - To amend the Public Health Service Act to expand and improve health care services by health centers and the National Health Service Corps for individuals with a developmental disability as a Medically Underserved Population (MUP).


H.R. 555 & S. 117 - The Disability Integration Act - This bill has written into it the goal of eliminating "institutional care". In addition to the inherent bias against ICF's and people with severe and profound I/DD, the bill is prohibitively costly and there are not enough Direct Support Professionals to meet the provisions of this act.

H.R. 873 & S. 260 - The Transformation To Competitive Employment Act - This bill has declared the goal of eliminating Sheltered Workshops and 14(c) Wage Certificates, under the mantle of everyone with a disability is capable of competitive integrated employment.

H.R. 582 & S. 150 - The Raise the Wage Act - This bill is aimed at raising the minimum wage, but it also has provisions to eliminate 14 (c) wage certificates over the next six years and to immediately stop the issuing of any new certificates. VOR believes the issue of employment options for individuals with intellectual disabilities should not be buried in a bill for raising the federal minimum wage. Both issues deserve clean, stand-alone bills.
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