July 17, 2017
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

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Hope this finds you well and enjoying our wacky weather summer.  

Our Weekly Update begins with an editorial about the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater.  We call on the Governor to turn the Center over to DMH so people can receive the services they need and deserve.

We have a story about slave wages for people with disabilities in Maine, while a manager pocketed more than a half a million dollars, in ONE YEAR!

We have an update on health care reform and a big calendar.

As always happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Editorial:  Governor Baker, It Is Time For A Course Correction 

I praised Governor Baker and his administration for beginning the process of overhauling Bridgewater State Hospital i n this column last year.  The facility, now known as the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, is where prisoners who have been deemed mentally incompetent or sexual offenders have been sent for years.  Yet Bridgewater has also housed people awaiting trial who require a mental health evaluation. 

Despite the commitment to bring about change at the Bridgewater facility, the Governor chose to keep it under the control of the Department of Correction as opposed to transferring control to the Department of Mental Health as recommended by the Disability Law Center and other advocates.  (See here for a recent discussion of this issue in the Boston Globe).

It was revealed in the Boston Globe this week that eleven individuals, including one with developmental disabilities, are now suing the Commonwealth to be released from Bridgewater.  They are being held there for opioid treatment.  When I first read this, I thought "this cannot be true."  Silly me, I was wrong.

These individuals are all so desperately in need of treatment that the court has ordered them into treatment for 90 days.  At least one person wanted the treatment and commitment.  Their complaint states that when they arrived at the new facility the Commonwealth has set up in Plymouth the treatment was not adequate. So some walked away and others acted out.  They were then sent for "treatment" at Bridgewater.  There they eat the same food as prisoners, wear orange jumpsuits and carry ID's that say prisoner.  This does not sound like any treatment facility.  Certainly does not sound like a place to achieve a lasting sobriety.

Governor Baker has made fighting the opioid epidemic a cornerstone of his administration.  He has started the work of cleaning up the cesspool that is Bridgewater.  For both of these efforts he deserves praise.  However, real change will never occur under the control of the Department of Correction.  To a prison guard all residents look like an inmate.  The Governor must transfer control to the Department of Mental Health.  In almost every state, facilities such as Bridgewater are under the control of the agency that serves people with mental illness.  Now Massachusetts must follow suit.

Governor Baker, it is time for a course correction on Corrections.  Having the disabilities of mental illness or opioid addiction does not make a person a felon.

John Winske
jwinske@dpcma.org
Net News: Maine Non-Profit Paid Sub-Minimum To Disabled Execs Made $$$$$$

According to the Bangor Daily News, Skills Inc., paid people with disabilities sub-minimum wages while it paid a manager $570,000 in one year.  It paid some workers as little as $2.14 per hour.  You can find the story here
Net News: V.P. Says ObamaCare Hurt PwD's

As proof that the Trump Administration will stoop to any level to dismantle The Affordable Care Act, Vice President Pence made the argument this week that the law has hurt people with disabilities.  According to the Huffington Post and others, the Vice President argued that the ACA caused "far too many able-bodied adults on Medicaid" causing wait lists in Ohio and other states for community based services.  Luckily, Governor Kasich and others fired back.  You can read it here

Of course, there was no explanation of how cutting $850 million from Medicaid would erase waiting lists.  Nor did he explain why Indiana's website notes the wait for waiver services is at least five years.
Health Care Update:  Phony Insurance Added and We Are Delayed While A Senator Has a Medical Procedure

In a does anyone see the irony here moment?  It was announced that the Senate will delay voting on repeal and replace because Senator John McCain underwent a medical procedure on Friday.  Senator McCain had a procedure to remove a blood clot above his eye and he is resting comfortably at home.  

Meanwhile, the revised bill included an amendment, proposed by Senator Ted Cruz,  that would allow insurance companies to sell insurance policies that did not cover all services currently required as long as they also sold one that did cover all services.   The amendment is opposed by insurance industry because it would drive up rates on the comprehensive policies. 

According to HealthAffairs.org, there are a few hidden surprises in the Senate Health Care Bill.  You can read about it here.
Calendar: Disability Reframed Film Series Presents "Finding Dory"

When:  Wednesday, July 19, 2016, 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Where:  Cambridge Public Library, Main Lecture Hall. 449 Broadway, Cambridge

Join us as Disability Reframed: A Community Film Series shares an open-captioned screening of Finding Dory, an animated film about Dory, a Blue Tang fish with a sunny personality and also with cognitive difficulties like attention deficits and memory loss. When Dory realizes she is missing her family, a variety of marine friends help her find her way home. Along the way, lessons about community and diversity make this award-winning story truly memorable for kids and adults alike.

A lively post-film community discussion with the audience will be moderated by Mike Langlois - a regular feature of Disability Reframed.

Admission is Free

This is a scent-free event. Out of consideration for people with environmental illness and/or multiple chemical sensitivity, please refrain from using perfume or other scented products. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) has been requested. 

For more information please contact the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities at ccpd@cambridgema.gov or 617 349 4692 (voice) or 617 492 0235 (TTY).

Sponsoreby:

C ity of Boston Mayor's Commission for Personwith Disabilities
C a m b ridgCommission for Personwith Disabilities
Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs
Cambridge Public Library
Calendar:  Boston ADA Celebration Day

When: Tuesday, July 25, 2017, Noon - 2:00 P.M.

Where:  Boston City Hall Plaza. Boston City Hall

A free event for children, families, and individuals of all abilities!

ADA Celebration Day is a yearly celebration of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is held in Boston around the last week of July near the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act signing. Each year, we honor a local organization that has made an impact on accessibility or inclusion in Boston. ADA Celebration Day is an event for people of all ages and all abilities to come together and celebrate a milestone in the disability community.

The public is invited to join us for:
  • food
  • music
  • a resource fair
  • friends, and
  • fun
ASL and CART provided. This is a scent free event. For additional accommodation requests, call 617-635-3682 or e-mail disability@boston.gov.

Calendar:  MassHealth Restructuring Open Meeting Dates

Dear Colleagues,

Please note that we have two upcoming MassHealth Restructuring Open Public Meetings scheduled on July 21 and 28. 

Information is below and will be posted on MassHealth Innovations imminently.

Thank you.

Meeting 1 

When:  Friday, July 21, 2017,  1:00-3:00 PM

Where:  Worcester State University, Room 117, 
486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA

Conference Line (Listening Only):
1-888-822-7517, Participant Code: 163 4530#

Meeting 2 

When:  Friday, July 28, 2017,  12:00-2:00 PM

Where:  1 Ashburton Place, 21st Floor, Rooms 2&3, Boston, MA

Conference Line (Listening Only):
1-888-822-7517, Participant Code: 163 4530#
Calendar: Berkshire Theatre Group - "Children of a Lesser God" All Performances Open Captioned

Because of some advocacy work,  the Berkshire Theater Group has decided that all performances of Children of a Lesser God will be Open Captioned.

The performance is at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage
BTG's Stockbridge Campus, 83 East Main Street, Stockbridge, MA

Closing: Saturday, July 22 at 8pm

Tickets: $65

For more information please go to 


Sponsored by: Lead Sponsor, 37 Interlaken Road Project; The Shubert Foundation; The Westfield News Group; David and Susan Auerbach; Natalie and Howard Shawn; Country Curtains, The Red Lion Inn and Blantyre
Calendar:  Governor Charles D. Baker's Council Aging in Massachusetts - Community Listening Sessions

July 25, 2017, 9:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.
Barnstable Senior Center

August 2, 2017, 10:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M.
Elder Services of Berkshire County

Governor Charles D. Baker's Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts will hold listening sessions to hear ideas about how to make the Commonwealth the most livable state for people of all ages. Join us to make an impact on your community!

Specifically, we would like to hear about:
  • What factors make your community a great place to grow older?
  • How can we support families that include one or more older adults?
  • How can we promote more human connectedness (reduce loneliness, isolation) in communities?
  •  What are the top two issues or concerns that create barriers to people
  • being able to age well in their communities?
  • How can we accelerate innovation to support and connect older adults?
  • How can we change public perceptions about aging?
 If you are unable to attend please share your ideas by sending an email
to agingconversation@state.ma.us.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  Please
contact William Travascio at 617-222-7579 or at William.Travascio@MassMail.State.MA.US.
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