March 20, 2017
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

 ,

It has been another tough week on the advocacy front.  I will be honest, I too am tired, but we don't have a choice. We have to fight back.  We need to be relentless.  Our brothers and sisters who came before us fought hard for Medicaid, the RIDE, Home and Community Based Services and  the ADA.  We owe it to them, to ourselves and to future generations to protect our community.

We want your stories.  Even if you don't want us to use your real name.  We need your stories to demonstrate the damage that these changes will bring.  Email me at  jwinske@dpcma.org and I'll arrange for a DPC staff person to talk with you to get your story told.   

Whenever we have called upon you, you have been there.  Fight on my friends.
 
As always  happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Community News: Protect the ADA  

Please see the NDRN Protect ADA Website - you can use our description section.

The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), would seriously weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is the signature law protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities.

It requires a person with a disability to give a business owner who has barriers to access a written notice, and 60 days to even acknowledge that there is a problem-and then another 120 days to begin to fix it. No other civil rights group is forced to wait 180 days to enforce their civil rights.

The ADA was enacted in 1990 as a compromise between the disability and business community. Unfortunately, even after 26 years, there are still organizations, businesses, and companies who have yet to comply. H.R. 620 would make it easier for businesses to continue to ignore the ADA.

We believe that it is important for Congress to hear the voices of many who oppose this legislation. It is imperative that your Representative be told to oppose H.R. 620 ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.

See letter signed by over 200 disability, civil, human rights and faith based organizations in opposition of the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620). [Letter of Opposition for ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 H.R. 620 - March 2017]

Overview of concerns with H.R. 620

See this video #NoAccessAZ - from AZ Center for Disability Law - explaining the importance of the ADA and accessibility!
Community News: BSCB and Advocates Issue Call to Action 

Hi everyone,

The MBTA is in its budget preparation cycle for Fiscal Year 2018 that begins July 1 2017. This process is moving very quickly and will be finalized by mid-April.

The MBTA will close Fiscal Year 2017 with a 50 million dollar "structural" deficit. The MBTA Finance and Management Control Board (FMCB) has been directed to consider and approve only balanced budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2018.

On last Monday, the MBTA management announced to the FMCB and Audit and Finance Committee that the major means to close this budget gap is the Susoension of Premium Service on The RIDE and the elimination of weekend service on the Commuter Rail. Privatization of certain services is also being considered.

THE RIDE defines Premium Service as any origin or destination address that is outside the core service area. The core service area, as defined by the ADA, is a ¾ mile corridor from the closest fixed route service (buses, subways but excluding the commuter rail) during the operating hours of that fixed route service. Patrons of The RIDE pay a Premium Fare of $5.25 versus the ADA Fare of $3.15. The MBTA has always defined the service area for The RIDE by cities and towns and this practice predated the ADA.

Life decisions have been made based on the existence of this service. Premium Service is the only transportation option for a significant number of The RIDE Patrons. Suspending/eliminating Premium Service without viable alternatives that work for everyone would have tragic results.

There is no legal basis to fight the elimination of Premium Service with regards to the ADA. The ADA is crystal clear on the minimum standard for paratransit service, i.e. Paratransit is required to be provided within ¾ mile of the fixed route (bus, subway - excluding commuter rail).

BSCB has been participating in a Task Force within the MBTA that includes Boston Center for Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium, Massachusetts Senior Action Council, and the Access Advisory Committee to the MBTA. This Task Force has been very engaged in projects such as the Uber/Lyft/Taxi projects whose clear objectives are to improve customer service and have economic benefit to the MBTA. We are very mindful that services like Uber and Lyft, while they are game changers, they do not work for everyone. The community cannot afford any service elimination without viable alternatives.

This is a call to action for each of you to make your voice heard. You can do so by attending the weekly meetings of the MBTA FMCB and speaking during the public comment period at the very beginning of each meeting. Letters and phone calls to the Governor, Secretary of Transportation, and MBTA GM are also in order.

It is extremely important that there be a significant presence from the blindness community at every FMCB meeting from here forward. These Board Meetings are held each Monday at noon at 10 Park Plaza, the Transportation Building, in Boston. Public testimony makes a big difference and the lack of such testimony also is very telling to the Board. The meeting on Monday, March 20 is especially important - it is when the details of the MBTA's proposals regarding Premium Service will be presented to the FMCB.

The board needs to hear the impacts this decision would have on you, members of your family, and friends. 

Now is the time to make your voice heard!!!

Thank you!!

Brian Charlson,
President
Bay State Counci of the Blind
Net News: Secretary Price,  Don't Mess With People With Disabilities' Freedom

The blog of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had an editorial this weekend by Ari Ne'eman.  Ari   previously served as one of President Obama's appointees to the National Council on Disability and as the President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. He currently advises the ACLU on disability policy and Medicaid.

Secretary Price and President Trump this week suspended new regulations which sets standards for Home and Community Based Services.  Without standards each state will be able to pick and choose which services to provide and will also monitor themselves.

Health Care Update:  This is the Week

Word is the House will vote on the disaster known as the American Health Care Act (ACHA) this Thursday.  Late word is they may move to speed up the cuts to Medicaid.  If you have contacts in other states please contact them.  Also, please participate in the events in our calendar section this week.   
Calendar: Twitter Chat on the GOP Healthcare Plan and the Disability Community  

When: Tuesday, March 21, 7 PM EST

The co-partners of #CripTheVote, Gregg Beratan, Andrew Pulrang, and Alice Wong, invite you to the Twitter chat focusing on the proposed Republican Health Care bill, the  American Health Care Act (AHCA). What should you know about this bill? How will it impact people with disabilities? What can you do express your views? 

We are thrilled to have guest hosts Bruce Darling of the  Center for Disability Rights and Julia Bascom of the  Autistic Self Advocacy Network join and share the latest information with us.

We are also in the process of collecting Medicaid stories from the disability community. Details here
Calendar : #SaveMedicaid    
  
Even if you cannot attend this event, we urge you on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, to use the hashtag #SaveMedicaid on this day.  If you are comfortable please share how Medicaid saves you from living in an institution, or how important Home and Community Based Services are to you. 

From:  Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

Event: #SaveMedicaid

Day:  Wednesday, March 22nd,  11:00-11:45 a.m.

Place:  Washington D.C., Senate lawn directly across from the east steps of the Senate wing of the Capitol
Speakers: Senators Bob Casey, Hassan, and Harkin

We have just learned that Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) has scheduled a press conference with for Wednesday, March 22nd from 11-11:45 a.m. ET on the Senate lawn (directly across from the East Senate steps - across from Supreme Court). This coincides with the Disability Policy Seminar Hill Day. Senator Casey will speak about the House's American Health Care Act and the proposal to institute per capita allotments, tear down the existing Medicaid program, and create a program that will increase waiting lists for home and community based services, cut $880 billion in Medicaid funding over 10 years, and deny people with disabilities the supports they need to have control of their lives. 

We hope that hundreds of advocates can join the Senator at the press event and then will move into the halls of the House and Senate buildings to advocate to oppose this gutting of this essential program.

Other members will be joining Senator Casey. We have a commitment from Sen. Hassan, and former Sen. Harkin will be joining him as well. It is likely there will be three or four other Senators as well. I will confirm those speakers when we have a final word from their offices.

Senator Schumer's office will hold a rally for Medicaid around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. that day as well. That rally will be focused beyond disability and include many other stakeholder groups. Details to follow soon.

Finally, it is likely that after the 11:00 press event Senator Casey will go to the floor of the Senate and speak at length about the impact the cuts to the Medicaid programs will have for people with disabilities and their families. Once we have details of that, we will let you know. It would be great to have some advocates and self-advocates in the gallery as he makes his comments.

Please help marshal the troops and get as many people to the 11:00 a.m. event as possible. This press event will be a rallying cry focusing on Medicaid and disability.
Calendar: Independent Living Education Day at the State House 

When:  Wednesday, March 22, 2017,    11:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

Where:   Massachusetts State House,  Grand Staircase
Boston

Join us as we gather to share how vital these services are in allowing us to live in the community.
Calendar:  One Care Information Sessions 

Drop by to talk one-on-one with MassHealth, and Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA),  representatives about One Care.

Thursday, March 23, 2017
8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Friends of the Homeless Resource Center/Shelter
755 Worthington St.
Springfield, MA 01105

See the enclosed " How to Get There" flyer for directions, or in Spanish to the information sessions.  For more information about these events, call Maggie at 617-886-8246 or email us at: OneCare@state.ma.us
Calendar:  American Sign Language Classes 

When:  Wednesday evenings, April 12, 2017 to June 14, 2017 (10 weeks), 6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.

Class is ASL Level I
  • Open to 18 and over
  • Taught by Deaf Instructor
  • Learn about Deaf Culture Too

Class is $200 not including instructional materials.

Classes require a minimal enrollment of six students.

 

Deadline to register is April 5, 2017.

 

For more information please contact:  Joan Philip, Center for Living and Working, 484 Main Street, Suite 345, Worcester, MA 01608.

 

Voice/TTY: 508 755-1003

Video Phone: 508 762-1164

or jphilip@centerlw.org

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