Category Archives: Disabilitiies

“Addressing Social Needs Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Survey of Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans” – Center for Health Care Strategies

by Nancy Archibald

“COVID-19 has hit some populations harder than others. This includes people of color, residents of nursing facilities and other congregate settings, and individuals with multiple chronic medical conditions. People in these groups are often dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid because they have a disability or are age 65 or older, and also have low incomes. Recent federal data show that dually eligible individuals are more likely to contract COVID-19 than Medicare-only beneficiaries and are hospitalized with COVID-19-related complications more than four times as often.

“Dually eligible individuals also frequently have significant social risk factors, which if addressed, could improve their access to care, health outcomes, and quality of life. With support from Arnold Ventures, the Center for Health Care Strategies recently partnered with the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) to examine how its Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP) members were addressing their enrollees’ social risk factors.

“As a supplement to this work, ACAP and CHCS explored how ACAP-member plans, including D-SNPs and Medicare-Medicaid Plans (MMPs), are addressing existing and new social risk factors of their dually eligible enrollees during the pandemic. Information from 14 plans was collected in an October 2020 survey. Click here to continue reading this article.

communithy partnerships

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Download Black Disabled History Month Lessons here.

black disabled History month

Disability Equality in Education (DEE) Black History Month Lesson

This month DEE is celebrating Black Disabled history in America by providing schools and educators with a collection of projects and lessons for Black History Month. Our Black Disabled History collection includes 2 lessons about important historical figures in America that are a part of Black Disabled history. The collection also includes 2 projects that can be assigned to students to have them research an important black and disabled historical figure or artist. The goal of these lessons is to bring disabled representation into your Black History Curriculum. These lessons and projects are best suited for students in grade 8 or above and can be done in a classroom or adapted to be done virtually. All 4 of our lessons can be found by downloading the “DEE Black History Month Collection” by following this link: DEE Black History Month Collection Download Link.

Disability Equality in Education Website

“OPINION: Go Old School With COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout for Older Adults” – next avenue

“Lack of internet access shouldn’t be a barrier to getting vaccinated.”

older persons and vaccine

by Susan Nash

“The federal government’s recommendation that the COVID-19 vaccine be made available to adults aged 65 and up is a welcome step in the effort to accelerate the distribution of these life-saving shots. Unfortunately, many of the older adults most at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 are the least likely to have online access to vaccine information and registration options. Other forms of outreach to this population are essential to an effective vaccination effort.

“In a recent Los Angeles Times story about this problem, Donna Spratt, 82, of Cerritos, Calif., explained that she couldn’t figure out how to use county’s online system for vaccination registration.”Once you’re retired, you kind of lose contact with these things,” Spratt said. She needed to get her daughter to arrange for the appointment and her son to drive her 20+ miles to get the shot.

“The digital divide between young and old has already emerged as a critical problem during the months of sheltering in place: older people without internet access have faced increased risks from social isolation without the ability to connect even via Zoom. Internet access is also crucial to accessing essential services like grocery delivery and telehealth video visits during the pandemic.”

Click here to continue reading this opinion column at next avenue. 

About community living.

“All people, regardless of age or disability, should be able to live independently and participate fully in their communities. Every person should have the right to make choices and to control the decisions in and about their lives. This right to self-determination includes decisions about their homes and work, as well as all the other daily choices most adults make without a second thought.

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Why Community Living?

“In survey after survey, when older adults and people with disabilities are asked where they would prefer to live, they say they want to live in their communities, not in institutions. People also are happier and healthier when they live in community settings. 

“Inclusion of older adults and people with disabilities also offers many benefits to  communities themselves. Communities miss out on valuable voices and perspectives when people with disabilities and older adults are left out. They are deprived of co-workers, volunteers, mentors, and friends who offer new ways of thinking about, and navigating, the world. When older adults are excluded, communities lose wisdom collected over many decades, and their connection to history. 

“Community living also happens to be less expensive than other options for most people. Skilled nursing facilities can cost an average of $75,000 a year and public residential facilities for people with disabilities average $225,000 a year. In most cases, these costs are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance. 

“Finally, a series of laws, court decisions, and administrative rules have established community living as a legal right. Most notably, in 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that people with disabilities must receive services in the most integrated settings possible. This landmark decision has been a critical tool in protecting the rights of people with disabilities and older adults alike.”

There’s more here at the Administration for Community Living Website:

The Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources is an initiative of the Administration for Community Living.

PA ABLE Savings Program Overview

pa able

More than 4,000 people with disabilities have over $40 million saved in the PA ABLE Savings Program (PA ABLE) for disability-related expenses. PA ABLE has built a network of family members, advocates, and disability resource providers it relies on as an important part of its success.

By saving with PA ABLE, you or a loved one can build a better financial future and live more independently. Remember that savings in a PA ABLE account:

  • May be deducted from Pennsylvania state income tax.1
  • Do not affect eligibility for any federal needs-based programs with a limitation for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.2
  • Can be contributed from a bank account, paycheck or Social Security benefits.3
  • Can be allocated into various savings options, including an FDIC-insured checking account and six asset-allocation investment options.
  • May be used to build savings or pay expenses such as rent, transportation, groceries, assistive technology, and much more.4
  • Provide other benefits unavailable with other states’ ABLE plans.

Continue reading →

Disability Webinar Series

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We would like to invite you to an upcoming series of webinars for healthcare providers on accessible healthcare for people with disabilities. While the webinars will focus on information for healthcare providers, the information will also be valuable for people with disabilities and those that support them. All are welcome to attend.

This series is part of the Rural Healthcare Access Project, an initiative funded by the PA Developmental Disabilities Council to improve healthcare access for people with disabilities in rural PA

Session 1: Core Competencies on Disability Part 1 – Thursday January 14, 1pm

This session will be a presentation of Disability Core Competencies by Dr. Susan Havercamp, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center. 

The Core Competencies are skills and attributes that enable healthcare professionals to provide quality care to consumers with disabilities. They were developed by the Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education in partnership with the Ohio Disability and Health Program at the Ohio State University Nisonger Center using a consensus process which included people with disabilities, disability experts, health educators, and health care providers.

Zoom link:

To join by phone call (646) 876-9923 and enter meeting ID 850 2318 3980

Session 2: Core Competencies Part 2 and Stakeholder Panel – Thursday January 28, 1pm

This session will include a recap of the Core Competencies along with people with disabilities and other community leaders from the Rural Healthcare Access Project discussing their care experiences and answering questions. 

Zoom link:

To join by phone call (646) 876-9923 and enter meeting ID 881 9628 8579

Session 3: Provider Panel – Tuesday February 9, 1pm

In this session we will hear from a panel of healthcare providers about their experiences treating people with disabilities, challenges, best practices, and how providers can help improve access to care.

Zoom link:

To join by phone call (646) 876-9923 and enter meeting ID 821 1634 1873

Click here to register for sessions.

New Report on Centers for Independent Living

Each year, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) help more than 200,000 individuals with disabilities continue living in their communities with the support they need to live, work and learn outside of an institutionalized setting. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently released Program Year 2019 Annual Report on Centers for Independent Living, a report highlighting key services, activities and achievements of CILs from September 2018 to September 2019. Click on the graphic below to read the full report to learn what CILs have accomplished in just one year, including how CILs have provided more than one million services and generated more than $600,000,000 to expand services beyond ACL funding.

cil report

“No More Emotional Support Peacocks As Feds Crack Down On Service Animals On Planes” – NPR

Orlando, emotional support animal, ESA

“Under a new rule issued last week by the Transportation Department, only dogs that meet strict service animal standards will be allowed to fly with passengers. Orlando, emotional support animal, ESA.” (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

by David Schaper

“The days of bringing your emotional support cat, pig or even a miniature horse on a plane may soon be coming to an end. The federal government is enacting a new rule restricting the types of service animals allowed on commercial airline flights, allowing only dogs that meet specific training criteria.

“The new Department of Transportation rule is in response to a growing backlash in recent years to airline passengers trying to bring all kinds of wild and outlandish pets onto planes, including the woman who tried to bring an “emotional support” peacock on board a United Airlines flight in 2018, and the “comfort” turkey that was actually allowed to fly on Delta Airlines back in 2016.

“‘It’s gotten really out of control,’ says Paul Hartshorn, Jr., a flight attendant for American Airlines and spokesperson for the flight attendants’ union there. ‘For years, our members have been dealing with untrained, sometimes wild animals in the aircraft cabin.

“‘For the most part, I will say it’s dogs that are not properly trained, but we’ve seen everything from pigs, to monkeys, to hamsters. You name it, we’ve seen it,’ Hartshorn added.

“The untrained animals can have behavioral issues, and some even relieve themselves on the plane.”

Continue reading this article at NPR; click here.

New guide: Resources for Pennsylvania Military Veterans with Developmental Disabilities

disability rights for veterans

This guide is downloadable at the Disability Rights Pennsylvania Website: Click here.

Link partners will remember the name Stephen Lew; Stephen attended several Link partner cross-training meetings until he informed us he was leaving Pennsylvania and heading to Alaska. He was a valued resource for us.