April 24, 2017
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update


Good Morning.

To follow up last week's editorial, about changing the Masshealth for Working Disabled Adults, I propose a radical shift which would remove the disability tax  and bring about true equality.

We have a scholarship opportunity and several news stories for you.   Our calendar section remains jam packed.

As always  happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial: Re-Imagining MassHealth for Working Disabled Adults

In last week's editorial, I outlined how the MassHealth program for working disabled adults could be viewed as punitive when viewed through the lens of civil rights or the social model of disability.

Before I present my solution for reforming the program, I want to be crystal clear that the Commonhealth program for working disabled adults was absolutely revolutionary when it was developed three decades ago. It was groundbreaking.  It allowed people with severe disabilities to pursue competitive employment and not spend their lives mired in poverty.  But times have changed and our policies should adjust.

When this program was developed, it was viewed as an insurance program that  required you to carry your employers insurance even if it did not meet your needs. It was designed to "wrap around" the private insurance a member would receive from their employer,  since insurance from an employer would not cover things such as PCA's and most durable medical equipment.  As a result there were two premium rates, one for those for people whose employer did not offer insurance and a lower premium for those who had the "wrap around" coverage.  

We must begin by recognizing that Masshealth for Working Disabled Adults is necessary because of a failure of the insurance market.  We must also recognize that Masshealth will likely be their insurance for life.  

Under my proposal, when a person with a severe disability goes to work, they would keep their Masshealth.  The employer would send the insurance premiums, they would normally pay to the private insurer, to Masshealth.  The employee would pay the same premium that their fellow employee pays.  This money would also go to Masshealth.  

Additionally, the Commonwealth should also abandon the current practice of recovering the assets of people who participate in this program.  The rules allowing the states to recover assets were established to stop people from gaming the system.  (Families with homes and assets would transfer those assets to family members so they do not have to pay for nursing home costs.)  The individuals in this program are not gaming the system. The system is gaming them.  Because the assets recovery kicks in at 55 years of age, it means if they die at 54 their family can keep any nest egg they have saved. If they die a year later, the state seizes the assets.  This is ludicrous public policy.

These changes will not be easy to implement.  But it is the correct thing to do if we want people with disabilities to have true access to the American Dream and potentially break the bonds of poverty.

John Winske
Net News: Disabled Americans are Less Likely to Use Technology

According to a report published earlier this month by the Pew Research Center, Americans with disabilities are less likely than their non-disabled neighbors to have home broadband and other technology.

Net News: Access Denied 

Last summer the University of California, Berkeley, was notified by the Department of Justice that it need to make audio and video content online accessible to people with disabilities.   The University, in turn, decided to end public access to the more than 20,000 audio and video files rather than make them accessible.

Now, a group of scholars and organizations have published a public petition on insidehighered.com calling on the University to reverse their decision.  You can read more here.
Scholarship Opportunities: NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Thanks to a generous contribution from NBCUniversal, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to offer the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship.

In 2017 the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship will offer eight (8) scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who are interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry. Each recipient will receive $5,625 to help cover the cost of education at their current college or university.

Click this link: Apply for the 2017 NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

Applications due by June 19, 2017

This scholarship has been named in honor of Tony Coelho, a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Coelho was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. During his terms, Coelho authored the original ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 800,000 more people with severe disabilities were employed than when the ADA was first enacted, in large part thanks to the work of Coelho, his successors, and predecessors.

From 1994 to 2001, after being appointed by President Bill Clinton, Coelho served as Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. He also worked as the Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, Clinton appointed Coelho as the United States Commissioner General at the 1998 World Expo in Portugal. Clinton also appointed Coelho as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the Gore Presidential Campaign.

From June 2009 to June 2011, Coelho served as the Chairman of AAPD.

Scholarship Application Process

  • Any undergraduate or graduate student who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability.
  • Students must be interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry - all majors are welcome to apply.
  • While you do not need to be a US citizen to be eligible for this scholarship, you must currently be attending a college or university in the United States.

Please note: You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this scholarship will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. This scholarship is run specifically for students with disabilities by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Applicants chosen to receive an NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential employees.

Please contact scholarship@aapd.com or 202-521-4316 with any questions or concerns.
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.
Calendar: Boston Mayor's Commission on Disability Community Forum

When:  Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 2:00 P.M - 4:00 P.M.

Where:  Suffolk University Law School, Ground Floor 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108

Do you have concerns, questions, or comments on a disability issue?  We want to hear from you!
  • Provide input to the City of Boston's Annual Accessibility Agenda
  • Hear updates from Disability Commissioner Kristen McCosh
  • Meet members of the Boston Disability Commission Advisory Board
  • Make your concerns about accessibility known to City Officials
  • Network with Disability Community Friends over Free Food & Drinks
ASL and CART provided. This is a scent-free event.
To request an accommodation, contact us by May 1st at:
disability@boston.gov or call 617-635-3682 / 617-635-2541 TTY
For more information, visit boston.gov/disability.
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