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October 20, 2014

Wounded Warriors Canada Announces 2015 Battlefield Bike Ride - PRNewswire

Canadians will cycle nearly 600km from Vimy Ridge to Nijmegen in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Wounded Warriors Canada is proud to announce that they will host their second annual Battlefield Bike...



AUCD Announces 2014 Trainee Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
AUCD is proud to sponsor 20 trainees with scholarships to the AUCD 2014 Conference. The trainees selected come from 17 centers, and represent both LENDs and UCEDDs in over 10 disciplines.

WA State Orders ABA Covered, Past Denials Reconsidered - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Order issued in wake of state Supreme Court ruling

October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014 -- Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has ordered the state's private insurers tostop enforcing blanket exclusions for medically necessary mental health coverage, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autism,and to reconsider all claimsdating back to 2006 that were denied on the basis of a blanket exclusion.

Kriedler's order was issued in the wake of the Washington Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that such blanket exclusions violate bothstate and federal mental health parity law. While Krielder's order does not specifically reference autism or ABA, it was the result of the Supreme Court's decision in O.S.T. v Regence, a class action suit dealingwith denials of ABA on the basis ofblanket exclusionsfor individuals diagnosed with autism.

“The court ruled decisively on behalf of Washington consumers, and I intend to see that insurers doing business in our state follow through on this decision,” Kreidler said. “I expect the insurers to do a thorough review of all policyholders who may have current and past claims that may be impacted by this decision and to start the process immediately.”

Kreidler's office was assailed last week in a Seattle Times editorial for having left enforcement of the mental health parity law to the courts, rather than taking action on its own.

"He has been slow to stand up for the tens of thousands of families struggling to get necessary care for loved ones with mental illness," the Times wrote. "Astoundingly, his office has not taken a single enforcement action on the law, and a proposed rule to strengthen enforcement has languished in his office for two years."

In his letter to insurers issued today, Kreidler directed that claims for medically necessary services could no longer be denied on the basis of blanket or categorical exclusions. If currentinsurance contracts do contain exclusions, then policyholders must be notified of the "correct coverage standard." Health plans to be issued in 2015 will be reviewed for compliance.

In addition, insurers.were given until March 1, 2015 to identify all mental health claims dating back to 2006 that were denied on the basis of a blanket exclusion and to implement aprocess for allowing improperly denied claims to be re-evaluated.

The provision reflects a proposed settlement between Regence Blue Shield in the state andfederal class action lawsuits in which the insurer would establisha $6 million fund to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses incurred by policyholders for improperlydenied claims.

“With this settlement and the recent (state) Supreme Court decision, the standard for coverage in Washington state is clearly established,” said Eleanor Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, who represented the plaintiffs.

Hamburger has reached settlementswith the state's three largest private insurers and the state employees health plan, and is representing employees suing Boeing for its denialof autism benefits. The federal class action suit against Regence coveredhealth plans regulated under federal ERISA laws and alleged violations of federal mental health parity law. All of the actions are based on denials of ABA coverage for children with autism.

Mental health parity laws do not require mental health coverage; rather, they require health plans that do cover mental health benefits to cover those benefits at parity with physical health benefits.


Affordable Housing Grant to Help 14 Disabled, Low-Income Citizens Achieve Homeownership - PRNewswire

JACKSON, Miss., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In its continuing commitment to the community, BancorpSouth Bank has secured a $147,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) to help the University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies in...



In Siblings, Autism Signs Often Apparent At 18 Months - DisabiltyScoop
About 20 percent of younger siblings of those with autism are on the spectrum too and they often show symptoms of the developmental disorder as young as 18 months, researchers say.
October 17, 2014

Sixty Low-Income Homeowners to Get Critical Home Repairs Thanks to Housing Grant - PRNewswire

LEXINGTON, Miss., Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- BankPlus, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas), and Community Students Learning Center (CSLC) have teamed up to rehab 60 homes in the city of Lexington, Mississippi, and Leflore County. According to BankPlus...



Minister Bergen Highlights Benefits of Registered Disability Savings Plan - PRNewswire
Welcomes new RDSP Action Group in B.C. VANCOUVER, Oct. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), joined Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation of British Columbia, in marking Registered Disability Savings...

Disney Urged To Include Characters With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
Tens of thousands have signed a petition calling for Disney to include characters with Down syndrome in its animated films.

Therapy Pig Wins Reprieve - DisabiltyScoop
After a nearly yearlong battle, a family will get to keep a 65-pound pig in their home that they say offers support for their children with special needs.

AUCD Announces 2014 Emerging Leader Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
The Emerging Leader Scholarship Fund was established to support emerging leaders in the AUCD Network with an emphasis on self-advocates, family members and early career professionals. Recipients receive a travel scholarship and registration funds for the AUCD Conference in Washington, DC, where they gain valuable opportunities in networking, mentorship, and professional growth.

'Historic' Settlement On Autism Benefits Reached In Washington State - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Regence Blue Shield agrees to cover ABA, other treatments

October 17, 2014

(October 17, 2014) -- Regence Blue Shield, the largest Washington State health insurer, has agreed to settle a pair ofclass action lawsuits by covering medically necessary autism treatments, including applied behavior analysis (ABA), and establishing a $6 million fund to reimburse policyholders for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of denied claims.

Regence is the last of Washington State's three largest insurers to settle litigation brought under state and federal Mental Health Parity law over lack of coverage for autism treatment.

“With this settlement and the recent (state) Supreme Court decision, the standard for coverage in Washington state is clearly established,” said Eleanor Hamburger, of Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, who prepresented the plaintiffs.“All other Washington health insurers should change their policies now to ensure that children with developmental disabilities get the insurance coverage to which they are entitled.”

Hamburger was referring to a unanimous decision reached last week by the Washington State Supreme Courtin aclass action lawsuit that found Regence's blanket exclusion of treatments on the basis of an autism diagnosis violated the state's 2005 Mental Health Parity Act. Within days, Regence agreed to settle a second class action suit proceding in U.S. District Court affecting its self-insured, or so-called ERISA, plans which are regulated under federal Mental Health Parity law.

The settlement would cover both the state and federalactions and requires approval by both judges.

The proposed settlement wouldrequire coveragefor medically necessary speech, occupational and physical therapies and ABA therapy to treat mental health conditions, including autism.Exclusions,age limits,monetary caps and visit limits would all be prohibited. A $6 million settlement fund would be established by Regence to reimburse policyholders whose previous claims for autism coverage were denied.

"...This proposed Settlement Agreement – now buttressed by the Washington State Supreme Court – fundamentally changes the insurance landscape for all Regence's Washington insureds with developmental disabilities and autism,"according to a motion filed by Hamburger before the state and federal judges hearing the cases. "If approved, the Agreement would expand and align Regence's coverage obligations with the two other large carriers in Washington (Premera and Group Health), resulting in a historic, market-wide expansion of access to medically necessary therapies in Washington State for individuals with developmental disabilities."

Once the two judges issue their preliminary approval, final hearingswill be scheduled in each court and a notice will be sent to all class members about the settlement, the final hearings, and the process for submitting claims for reimbursement of out-of-pocket neurodevelopmental therapy costs.

If the final settlement agreement is approved, Hamburger said sheestimates thatfunds from the $6 million settlement fund could be disbursed to affected families by April or May of 2015.

In addition to the Regence, Premera Blue Cross and Group Health Cooperative actions, Hamburger has won a settlement with the Washington Health Care Authority requiring coverage for state employees and has filed an action against Boeing.

October 16, 2014

Nearly 1.7 Million Households Saved $340 Million In Tax Preparation Fees Thanks To MyFreeTaxes - PRNewswire

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Up until the final bell of the extended filing season, MyFreeTaxes — the nation's only free online tax preparation and filing initiative available to residents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia earning $58,000 or...



Sub-Human Treatment of the Disabled by New York State Agencies - PRNewswire
ALBANY, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Jonathan Carey Foundation is exposing the ugly truths of what continues in NYS since Willowbrook. NYS Governor Cuomo's Justice Center is treating the disabled as sub-humans and is violating their Civil Rights by denying...

Levo Tinnitus System Receives Health Canada License as a Class 2 Medical Device - PRNewswire

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Otoharmonics® Corporation, announces that it has received a Class 2 medical device license from Health Canada for the Levo® system, a personalized neuroscience-based sound therapy for use in the temporary relief of tinnitus...



Court Challenge Launched Against the Elimination of Door-to-Door Delivery - PRNewswire

OTTAWA, Oct. 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Representatives from seniors' groups and organizations for people with disabilities joined the Canadian Union of Postal Workers today to launch a major legal challenge to the attempt to end home mail delivery. "In Canada, people should count, not just the...



AUCD Announces 2014 Emerging Leader Scholarship Recipients - AUCD
The Emerging Leader Scholarship Fund was established to support emerging leaders in the AUCD Network with an emphasis on self-advocates, family members and early career professionals. Recipients receive a travel scholarship and registration funds for the AUCD Conference in Washington, DC, where they gain valuable opportunities in networking, mentorship, and professional growth.

Autism Speaks' Lorri Unumb To Speak At TN Law School - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Will address enacting insurance reform laws in conservative states

October 16, 2014

LEXINGTON, SC (October16, 2014) -- Lorri Unumb, Esq., vice president for state government affairs at Autism Speaks, will address the Belmont University School of Lawon "Legislating Autism Coverage: The Conservative Insurance Mandate" at a Law Review Symposium on Health CareFriday, October 17 in Nashville.

Unumb won the fight for autism insurance reform in her native South Carolina in 2006 then went on with Autism Speaks to help manage the enactment of similar laws in 35 other states. Today, 75 percent of the nation's population is covered under state laws barring the insurance industry's practice of excludingany coverage for autism treatment.

In addition to California, Texas and New York, Unumb helped manage the enactment of reform laws inArkansas, Louisiana,Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Alaska. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was persuaded to veto a bill sent to her by the Legislature which would have voided its state mandate.

Tennessee is one of 13 states yet to enact autism insurance reform. Efforts will resume in 2015 with the Legislature to outlaw the insurance industry's exclusionary practices.

Belmont's Annual Symposium will be held on Friday, October 17 at the Baskin Center, home of its College of Law. Unumbis scheduled to speak at9 am.


Harvard Study Finds Psychiatrists Tough To Access - DisabiltyScoop
Making an appointment with a psychiatrist is often an uphill battle no matter if you're insured or if you intend to pay out of pocket, a new study suggests.
October 15, 2014

Mobility Ventures to Showcase New Luxury MV-1 at Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association Annual Convention and Tradeshow 2014 - PRNewswire

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Oct. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mobility Ventures LLC, designer and manufacturer of the acclaimed MV-1—, the only American vehicle purpose-built and designed from the ground up in support of people who use wheelchairs—is pleased to announce its attendance...



White House Honors Disability Employment Champions of Change - AUCD
Ten people from across the country were honored as Disability Employment Champions of Change at the White House on October 14, 2014 for their efforts to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Last updated : October 20, 2014 - 22:44:39
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