April 18, 2017
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update


I hope you had a fabulous long weekend.  

Another week, another editorial.  I look at MassHealth for Working Disabled Adults and ask if it is time to view the program as a disability tax.  

We have several internet stories for you.  There is  information on an internship opportunity, the Center for Living and Working is seeking a CEO and as usual, our calendar section is packed.

As always  happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial: The Massachusetts Disability Tax and 100% Death Tax

Most people with severe disabilities are forced to rely on Medicaid and Medicare for their health insurance.  This reliance on government health insurance is due to the limits of our quasi-free market health insurance system, which seeks to control cost to limit premiums.

When the Commonhealth for Working Disabled Adults Program was created 30 years ago, it was revolutionary.  No other state in the country had a program allowing people with disabilities to work and purchase Medicaid as their insurance policy.  It removed one of the major hurdles to employment for people with disabilities.  But now, when viewed from a civil rights perspective or a social model of disabilities, the program seems downright punitive.

Commonhealth premiums are assessed on a sliding scale, based on family income.  The premiums go as high as ten percent of family income.  Yes, that is family income.  So if your spouse works, their income is taxed as a premium, even if they are not covered by the insurance.  Additionally, the individual covered by this program must still purchase insurance offered by their employer.  Those premiums are not used as a credit or deduction in calculating Masshealth premiums.  In fact, I have known people paying for their work health insurance, Medicare and Commonhealth.  

Basically, I see Commonhealth as a disability tax.  It is assessed on you because the insurance market does not offer insurance that meets your Long Term Support Services needs.

Now, comes the real kick in the pants.  If you are over the age of 55 and you are nearing the conclusion of your illustrious career, maybe socked away a little for your future or are getting ready to send your children to college.  Oh, no!..... if you stop working to qualify for Medicaid, you must spend down all of your assets and income to qualify.  Basically, you are forced into poverty.

Let me add the ultimate indignity.  For years we have heard right wing rich people, with assets, cry rivers over the inheritance tax as a death tax.  The "death tax" inheritance tax only applies to assets over $5.45 million for singles or $10.9 million for married couples.  If you are a person who uses Medicaid, your death tax is 100%.  That's right.  If you are over 55 and are on Medicaid and you pass away, the Commonwealth can and will attach your estate for every dime it has spent on you.  Even though you have been paying premiums. 

Can you imagine the outcry is Joe Middleclass were to die of cancer, and Blue Cross showed up at probate court and asked for all the money they had spent to cover his care.   This is a lot of food for thought.

Remember, people are on Commonhealth because they have no alternative.  I ask, Is there an alternative which fits within a civil rights paradigm?  Yes, there is.  Tune in next week.  Until then, if you see the Governor ask him about the disability tax and the 100% death tax.

John Winske
Net News: Blind Marathoner Uses Augmentative Reality Technology

Erich Manser, a marathoner from Littleton, ran the Boston Marathon using a technology where a guide, many miles away in Ohio, could give him direction by viewing through a camera on Manser's glasses.  This type of technology is called augmentative reality.  It blends information over the real world background, as opposed to virtual reality or computer games which create a new reality.  You can read a Boston.com article on Erich and the technology here.
Net News:  Group Homes Prioritizing Profits Over Safety, Investigation Finds

DisabilityScoop.com ran this article about how some for profit entities may be placing profits ahead of safety in operating community based services.  It was reprinted from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  You can read about it here
Community News: One Care Members Turning 65 Can Remain on One Care  

Dear Stakeholders,

We are pleased to announce that CommonHealth members enrolled in One Care when they turn 65 may stay enrolled in One Care (if they continue to meet other One Care and MassHealth eligibility requirements). This option had previously only been available to members in MassHealth Standard.

What steps do One Care members who turn 65 need to take in order to stay enrolled in One Care?

One Care members turning 65 will need to complete an Application for Health Coverage for Seniors and People Needing Long-Term-Care Services (MassHealth form SACA-2) prior to their 65th birthday and submit it to MassHealth to determine if they are still eligible for MassHealth Standard or CommonHealth. MassHealth will mail a copy of the SACA-2 to all One Care members approximately 60 days prior to their 65th birthday. The SACA-2 can also be accessed online at: www.mass.gov.

Once MassHealth reviews the One Care member's SACA-2, we will notify the One Care member whether they are still eligible for MassHealth Standard or CommonHealth. If the member remains eligible, they will not have to take any further action and will stay enrolled in their One Care plan.

What if I still have questions?

If you have any other questions about this process, you can:
  • Call the MassHealth Customer Service Center: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at (phone) 1-800-841-2900 or (TTY) 1-800-497-4648; or
  • Contact SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone): SHINE counselors can work with you and your caregivers to help you understand your options. They are trained to help people who have Medicare and MassHealth and will provide impartial information about your health insurance options. SHINE counselors are available Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. A counselor can work with you in person, by phone, or through e-mail.
To schedule an appointment with a SHINE counselor, call (phone) 1-800-243-4636 or (TTY) 1-800-439-2370.

Malinda A. Ellwood, JD
Health Programs Policy Analyst
Internship Opportunities: Help Me Build a Talent Pipeline


I wouldn't be in office today without having benefited from internships that opened the door to job opportunities and opened my eyes to public service. As someone who grew up with hardly any exposure to government and politics, I was lucky to land paid fellowships to start working for Mayor Menino in City Hall and for then-candidate Elizabeth Warren on her 2012 campaign, giving me hands-on experience and kindling a passion for public service.

Too often, government agencies and political campaigns can only offer unpaid internships, making it hard for young people from diverse backgrounds to get a foot in the door.

That's why I've carved out room in my office budget to offer paid summer experiences for Boston-area students to contribute their talents to my City Hall team. Could you help me spread the word and encourage anyone who might be interested to apply?

Our Undergraduate Diversity & Inclusion Internship seeks a talented undergrad who has contributed to campus or community diversity initiatives and/or demonstrated the ability to overcome adversity. Apply by submitting a resume and personal statement by next Friday.

Because of Boston residency requirements, students must be Boston residents during the term of the internship to receive the stipend. Thanks so much for helping me identify young people who will soon be our elected officials and public servants of tomorrow!

Michelle Wu
Employment Opportunities: CLW ED

Center for Living & Working, Inc., located in Worcester, Massachusetts, is seeking experienced mission-driven candidates to serve as Chief Executive Officer of this dynamic and growing consumer-driven agency. The CEO will lead and direct the overall operation of the agency's $3.0 million dollar budget, provide leadership on service provision and disability advocacy, and meet corporate financial goals. The qualified candidate must have proven communication, administration, fund-raising and organizational skills with 10 years of progressive management experience in a relevant non-profit organization. 

Passionate commitment and at least five years of experience in serving any or all of the following: persons with disabilities, disenfranchised groups, racially and ethnically diverse groups, persons with complex medical challenges, persons with behavioral disabilities, is desired. 

Bachelor's Degree or equivalent experience required. Applicants shall submit in electronic form a letter of introduction with salary requirements and resume to OPSearch@centerlw.org no later than April 21, 2017. Qualified individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
Calendar: MASS Meeting

When:  Thursday, April 20, 2017, 6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.

Where:  Beaverbrook Step, 85 Main Street 2nd Floor, Watertown, MA  02472

Join Mass Advocates Standing Strong for our monthly meeting.

Any questions please email us at keithmilleradvocate@gmail.com 
Calendar: Disability Wrongs, Disability Rights

When:  Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 1:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Where:  SEIU at  26 West Street, Boston, MA

There's a lot we can do as a unified voice to hold onto and build on the gains of the disability rights movement.
  • Get a quick update on BCIL advocacy campaigns
  • Learn how to tell your story in a way that legislators and officials will listen to
  • Consider next steps to protect Ride service, protect MassHealth, build the PCA program, and support affordable housing.
We welcome veterans of the cause. We'd love to see people attending for the first time.

Equal access is a civil right!

Please RSVP here! Light lunch will be provided. Let us know if you need accommodations.

Shaya French, sfrench@bostoncil.org, 617-338-6665
Calendar: Senior Medicare Patrol Seventh Statewide Conference  

Engaging Consumers to Prevent Healthcare Errors, Fraud and Abuse

When Friday, April 28, 2017, 8:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Where: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston,  600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA

To register or for more information go to www.masmp.org  or contact Caroline Cole at 978 946-1256 or at ccole@esmv.org.
Calendar:  Cocktail Reception DLC Honors

When:  Tuesday, May 2, 2017,  5:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.

Where:  Royal Sonesta Hotel, 40 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge, MA  02142

The Disability Law Center Honors

Frederick Wiseman
with the
Impact Award
Art that Changes Lives

50th Anniversary of Titicut Follies

Since 1967, Frederick Wiseman has directed 40 documentaries-dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human experience in a wide variety of contemporary social institutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGH SCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LA DANSE, BALLET, CENTRAL PARK, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, and CRAZY HORSE. He has directed a fiction film, THE LAST LETTER (2002). His films are distributed in theaters and broadcast on television in many countries.

For more information please visit  http://www.dlc-ma.org/fw/
Calendar: Boston Deaf and Hard of Hearing Assistive Technology Resource Fair

When: Wednesday May 3rd, 2017, 10:00 A.M. -2:00 P.M.

Where: Non Profit Center Community Room.
89 South Street, Boston, MA 02111

Vendors and advocates will be on hand to demonstrate and explain the latest devices and resources in the areas of Deafness & Hard of Hearing

This event is free and open to all!

Please RSVP and request accommodations by April 12. Contact Keri Chamberlain 617-226-2634 or kchamberlain@eastersealsma.org

MassMATCH is funded by the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and managed by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

MassMATCH Assistive Technology Regional Center-Boston operated by Easter Seals MA provides device demonstrations and loans of the latest equipment to the general public.
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