December 12 2016
Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update

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As I write this letter I am mindful that two weeks from today is Christmas Day, and the night before that is the beginning of Chanukah.  Hard to believethe year went by so quickly.

In the update this week, we have news stories you may have missed including a story on 60 Minutes from last week, trashing the ADA.  We have several of job postings as well.  

We have two opportunities for you to do some advocacy. 

As always  happy reading.

John Winske
Disability Policy Consortium
Local News: Nursing Home Giant Stumbles

The Boston Globe had a story Sunday on nursing home mega-corp Genesis HealthCare which has more than 400 nursing homes including 23 in Massachusetts.  The chain has seen it's ratings from CMS fall dramatically and had some failures in inspections by the Commonwealth.  Most of all, the story reaffirms, for advocates, why we need to continue the fight to move residents into the community.  You can read the story here.
National News:  Anderson Cooper What Were You Thinking 

Last week, 60 Minutes, with Anderson Cooper, did a story that trashed the Americans with Disabilities Act. The title of the piece was "Drive by Lawsuits".  He highlighted two of lawyers that may have used shoddy techniques in bringing thousands of ADA cases to court. Interestingly, he took the word of defendants and never asked the lawyers in question if they had used this technique.  (Drive-by lawsuits are cases brought on by individuals who are not real customers or patrons of the businesses that are being sued. These individuals visit a business for the sole purpose of finding an ADA violation and then filing a lawsuit.)

Mr. Cooper also questioned why access standards are so specific regarding measurements such as the height of a grab bar or mirror.  You can watch the episode here.

The Huffington Post had this response by David Bekhour, which was one of many angry responses from our community to the story.

The real problem of the story is that there are conservatives in Congress who have proposed laws that would require plaintiffs to notify a store or public place when they have been discriminated against and provide a remedy, and to give the establishment 90 days to respond.  That does not even include fixing the problem. This story will only aid these efforts to gut the ADA.
Advocacy Opportunity:  Members Sought for One Care Implementation Council 

Below is information regarding the procurement of the new Implementation Council starting in 2017.  The current Implementation Council will be replaced by this new Council.

This means all current implementation council members must apply to be part of the new implementation Council that will be formed in 2017.

Masshealth is looking to build on the work done by the first Implementation Council and increase the diversity of Council members in the new Implementation Council.

People seeking to apply for the Council and are wanting more information can, in addition to going to COMMBUYS, go to this  website and scroll down to the bottom of the Notice of Opportunity announcement and the Q/A will be the third bulleted attachment.

Advocacy Opportunity: BSCB Seeks Nominees for Awards

The Bay State Council of the Blind asks you to help us honor the achievements and contributions of individuals and/or organizations which are positively impacting the lives of people who are blind in Massachusetts. The members of the Award Committee are asking you to nominate candidates for BSCB awards. Please take a few minutes and review the 3 types of awards which are given at our Spring conference. 

1. The Outstanding Service Award 
 
This award is given to an individual or organization that provides products or services of particular value to blind persons. This award is presented annually. The appropriate candidate is usually a company or individual who provides a tangible product or service.

2. The Community Access Award 

This award goes to an individual or an organization which has demonstrated a commitment to increased access for blind and visually impaired persons. This could be access to the printed word, transportation, the arts, employment, Etc. This award is presented at the discretion of the BSCB board of directors.

3. The Betty Gayzagian Advocacy Award

This award goes to a BSCB member who has performed exemplary advocacy work. This can include those who have worked on national, statewide or local issues. This award is given out at the discretion of the BSCB Board of Directors.

To nominate an individual and/or an organization for an award, please send your nomination to the Awards Committee Chair:

Cheryl Cumings at cscumings@comcast.net

The deadline for nominations is Friday February 3, 2017.

Best,
Cheryl
Employment Opportunity:  Executive Director, Disability Law Center 

The Disability Law Center of Massachusetts (DLC) is seeking an Executive Director to lead this non-profit organization responsible for providing legally-based protection and advocacy services that advance the rights of individuals with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  DLC's next Executive Director will continue to advance the high quality advocacy, legal representation and connection with the disability, civil rights and social justice communities in the state.

Employment Opportunity:  Full Time Support Staff Position Metrowest Legal Services 

Fast paced legal services office seeks full-time support staff person. Fluency in Portuguese or Spanish is preferred. Trilingual capacity highly desirable. Responsibilities include conducting legal intake, answering and directing incoming calls, greeting clients, providing oral interpretation and written translation for legal advocates, and other general clerical duties. Human, social or legal services experience, and previous experience providing services to survivors of domestic violence, is preferred. Proficiency in MS Office preferred. Salary is commensurate with experience. Excellent benefits offered. Send cover letter and resume by December 23, 2016 via mail or email to:

Support Staff Search
MetroWest Legal Services, Inc.
63 Fountain Street, Suite 304
Framingham, MA 01702
or email to bsoule@mwlegal.org
Calendar: Upcoming One Care Information Sessions

When:  Monday, Dec 12, 2016, 9:00am-12pm 

Where:  Whittier St. Health Center, 1290 Tremont St, Roxbury, MA 02120

When:  Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016,  9:00am-11:00am 

Where:  Friends of the Homeless Resource Center/ Shelter, 755 Worthington St., Springfield, MA 01105

One Care is health care option for MassHealth members ages 21-64 living with disabilities who are eligible for both MassHealth and Medicare. The current One Care plans are Tufts Health Unify and Commonwealth Care Alliance. Please see this link  for more information:   www.mass.gov/masshealth/onecare

T hese are two upcoming MassHealth events where we can answer any questions you have about this new health care option.
Calendar: Judge King Hearing on MBTA Access 

When:  Friday, July 16, 2016, 1:00 - 3:00 P.M.

Where:  Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, Conference Rooms 1-3, Boston, MA

On Friday December 16th, Judge King will be hosting his semi-annual public meeting regarding the status of the MBTA/BCIL Settlement agreement. Please join us to share feedback and help shape future plans. Attached is our latest report of accessibility updates-lots of exciting work going on.

See the link below for meeting details.



See you there,
Laura

Laura Brelsford
Assistant General Manager, System-Wide Accessibility
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 4470
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: 617-222-1688
Fax: 617-222-4394
Email: lbrelsford@mbta.com
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