Friday, March 27, 2015

New Life for Georgia Autism Bill

— An autism insurance bill considered dead earlier this week got a new lease on life Thursday when two key legislators from the House and Senate announced a compromise plan they hope will pass before the session ends next week.
State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, and Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, said in a joint news conference that they have agreed on a deal that will look a lot like a Senate measure that flew through the chamber in January.

Read more here:

Opinion: Brownback Hits a New Low in Kansas Medicaid Expansion

All of a sudden, Gov. Sam Brownback is consumed with compassion for the more than 5,000 disabled Kansans who are pleading for services.

This is new. Brownback didn’t give a rip about people with developmental and physical disabilities when he rammed through his massive tax cuts, which benefited wealthy Kansans and rendered the state unable to meet its most basic obligations.
And his administration turned a cold shoulder to the protests of families of people with developmental disabilities when they learned that decisions about their loved ones’ well being would be turned over to for-profit managed care companies.
But last week, Susan Mosier, Brownback’s acting secretary of the Department of Health and Environment, testified before a legislative committee. She said the administration wouldn’t consider expanding Medicaid eligibility for “able-bodied adults” until it had cleared the waiting lists of disabled persons needing mostly non-medical services such as occupational therapy, job training, group home placements and respite care for family members.

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Report: 'Massive Changes' Needed in States Care of People with Disabilities

Sorry to pick on Ohio, but just came across this.
Ohio programs for the developmentally disabled rely too much on institutional care and sheltered workshops and need “massive changes” to repair inequities, a report by the Center for Community Solutions concludes.
The state and counties should whittle down a list of 45,000 disabled Ohioans who wait more than six years for waivers to obtain services they need, the report said. Local agencies pay a big chunk of the cost of waiver services — part of the reason for the long waiting list. The state picks up the tab for most institutional care.

Ohio Gov. Responds to Public, Backs Off Phasing Out Independent Home Care

Responding to a hornet’s nest of public criticism, state officials are reassuring people with developmental disabilities and others that they will still be able to choose the specific caregivers who see to their most basic needs at home. 

Members of the public concerned about the potential loss of choice turned out in droves in recent weeks to testify before legislators. They felt blindsided after Gov. Kasich’s administration tucked into last month’s budget bill a proposal to phase out potentially thousands of independent providers, citing concerns about fraud. 

Angry calls, hundreds of emails and more than 60 hours of testimony ensued. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Autism Mandate Halted in Ga.

A bill to mandate autism coverage for some Georgia children looks dead for this year.
Rep. John Meadows, left, and
Rep. Richard Smith, talk during a
hearing at Georgia's State Capitol
on Tuesday.
The chairman of the House Insurance Committee told a group of reporters Monday that he doesn't plan to bring the legislation to a vote, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. State Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, said the bill will not cover enough people.
His comments echo those of Gov. Nathan Deal, who told multiple media outlets earlier this month that the bill unfairly targets small-business owners.

Aging Parents Fear Future for Their Adult Children with Disabilities

KING FERRY, N.Y. -- Helen and Mike Littlejohn had three biological sons and one on the way when they decided they had it in them to adopt some hard-to-place children.
Isaac Littlejohn is one of 12 children.

Along came two girls with psychological disabilities. Next, a daughter with shaken baby syndrome.
Once their house was outfitted for a wheelchair, they adopted Isaac, an 11-year-old who could not walk or talk but laughed and played.
His two brothers, who had been eating lead paint, needed homes too.
"We said, well, we have to have them all together," Helen Littlejohn said.
Finally, the couple offered homes to two children who had been sexually abused.
That made them parents of 12 children - three with severe developmental disabilities.
"Our hearts were bigger than our logic," she said. "We went ahead and did it and thus started our future."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Painful Loss for Brother

More and more poet Joe Weil feels moving severely disabled residents such as his brother, Peter, from the Woodbridge Developmental Center in order to close the Rahway Avenue facility was a terrible decision.
The state's decision to close the facility has become even more painful for Weil, who teaches creative writing at Binghamton University, following the March 13 death of his 62-year-old brother.
"All I know is my brother is dead," said Joe Weil. "I loved my brother. I've got his ashes on my mantel. He's home."