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A new report finds that cancer patients who participate in the creative arts,such as music therapy, dance, art therapy and writing, may be able to better cope with cancer-related anxiety, depression and pain. Researchers looked at the effects of the creative arts on common problems associated with cancer,including anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue and quality of life, and found that the arts helped with all issues except fatigue.
The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with the architects and civil engineers involved in the design and building of housing complexes inMississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The lawsuit alleges that the housing complexes violated the Fair Housing Act(FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act by not having accessible features for people with disabilities. The designers and builders of the housing complexes have agreed to get training on the FHA.
Governor expected to sign bill making Minnesota 33rd state
ST. PAUL (May 18, 2013) -- The Minnesota Legislature has sent Governor Mark Dayton a bill that would make Minnesota the 33rd state, and the first in 2013, to enact autism insurance reform. The reforms are included in an omnibus health care bill approved late Friday night 73-61 by the House of Representatives and today 39-28 by the Senate.
Governor Dayton is expected to sign the bill which would take effect in January 2014.
Sponsored by Rep. Kim Norton (DFL-Rochester), the measure applies to state-regulated large group health plans which would be required to cover speech, occupational, physical and behavioral therapy, including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA),up toage 18. An estimated 750,000 state residents would gain coverage.State employees will be added no later than2016.
The Dayton administration hopes to also extend coverage tothe small group and individual markets through the health exchanges it creates under the Affordable Care Act.
The bill also includes co-pay relief for families covered under the TEFRA disabilities program and a $12 million early intervention program for children up to age 18who are enrolled in the state's Medical Assistance (MA) program. The early intervention program will provide access to behavioral therapy, such as ABA, and will include training for providers in culturally appropriate techniques.
The provisions in Norton's bill were incorporated into HF.1233, the Omnibus Health and Human Services Finance Bill, which was passed by the legislature. The legislation became more urgent after a landmark 2001 court settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota expired in late 2011, stripping families of the state's only coverage starting last year.
"Autism Speaks commends the hard work of Representative Norton and the Dayton administration in producing a comprehensive response to the lack of autism coverage in Minnesota," said Lorri Unumb, Esq., Autism Speaks' vice president of state government affairs. "We look forward to continuing our work with our Minnesota champions to extend coverage to all families."
In addition to Minnesota, legislatures in North Carolina, Oregon and Nebraska areconsidering autism insurance reform bills. Similar measures advanced earlier this year in Hawaii, Utah, Georgia and Tennessee and are expected to be considered again in 2014.
States with existing autism insurance reform laws are expanding benefits. New Mexico has enacted a new law extending benefits under its existing law to public employees. Texas is nearing a final vote to eliminate the age cap on its law and California is moving a measure to extend its 2011 law, set to expire next year, another five years to 2019.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has charged the Founders Pavilion, Inc., of Corning, NY, with disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA). Founders allegedly violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act by asking for family medical history from job applicants and employees.The EEOC also alleged that Founders violated the ADA for refusing to provide an employee with reasonable accommodationsand for firing mployees because of perceived disabilities.
Health & Disability Advocateswill hold afree career fair for jobseekers with disabilities on May 21, 2013 from 1 - 4 p.m. Eastern Time.Jobseekers with disabilities will be able to "Get in Line" to chat with different employers nationwide who are actively recruiting people with disabilities. The chats will be text-based, similar to instant messaging-style chats. No audio or video will be part of the chat.
The National Disability Institute's LEAD Center will hold a webinar on May 29, 2013 from 3:00 – 4:30p.m, which will provide information on two best practices – Customized Employment and Customized Self Employment. Participants will learn how these practices can support job placement efforts for job seekers both with and without disabilities. Register online.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released four revised publications on protection against disability discrimination in the workplace. The publications address how the Americans with Disabilities Actapplies to job applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. You can find these documents on the EEOC website under "Disability Discrimination, The Question and Answer Series."
The U.S. Department of Justice has signed an agreement with Stewart County, GA, to improveaccess to all aspects of community life for individuals with disabilities. The agreement is part of Project Civic Access,the department's effort to make sure that counties, cities and towns comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The county will make changes to the sheriff's department, health department, senior center, municipal center, recreational vehicle park and polling places.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced that it will be sending persons with disabilities as Sports Envoys to China May 15 – 20, 2013to promote inclusion and equality in sports for persons with disabilities. The Sports Envoy program supports global promotion and practices that respect diversity in sports, and recognition that persons with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as people without disabilities.
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REGISTER TODAY FOR THE 2013 WORLD CP CHALLENGE
4-week health and wellness activity raises support for people with disabilities
Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pleased to announce that the registration for the 2013 World Cerebral Palsy Challenge is now open. Register today to join an international competition for good!
UCP launched the World CP Challenge in September 2012 in an effort to provide an accessible health and wellness activity that is proven to promote healthy living and change participants' health and fitness habits, all while raising awareness and crucial funds for direct services and research for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability resulting from damage to the developing brain, usually before birth. CP is the largest cause of physical disability in children; each year, approximately 10,000 infants in the United States will develop cerebral palsy.
World CP Challenge participants form teams of four and challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day, everyday, from September 4 through October 2. Throughout the Challenge, participants log their daily steps online, climbing virtual mountains around the world with each step and receiving weekly fitness tips and healthy recipes. And the ‘steps' can be any activity—the World CP Challenge is unique in that it enables everyone to be active in their own way with the option to convert more than 40 activities, such as yoga or swimming, into steps. The option to convert almost any activity into steps makes the World CP Challenge available to people of all abilities. Throughout the Challenge, participants can fundraise, with all proceeds supporting services to people with disabilities and cerebral palsy research.
This year, the World CP Challenge will held in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In these countries, the event is known as “Steptember.”
The World CP Challenge is not only a great opportunity for individuals, but for corporations and organizations as well. The Challenge serves as an employee engagement activity, increases productivity and reduces sick days among company employees. Participating companies can have employees compete amongst themselves, as well against other organizations to see who can reach the top of each mountain first.
“UCP and our international partners are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2013 World CP Challenge is now open—and we encourage everyone to check out our website, learn more about the Challenge and sign up! The World CP Challenge is a fun and exciting way to get active, compete against other teams and help to raise support for people with disabilities around the world,” said Stephen Bennett, President & CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “It truly is an international effort to bring people together in support of a great cause. We hope you will join us, and see you on the mountain!”
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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.
2011 autism insurance reform law would run to 2019
SACRAMENTO (May 16, 2013) --The California Senate voted 36-0 to extend the state's 2011 autism insurance reform law, which is set to expire next year, until 2019. Sponsored by Seante President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the measure, SB.126,moves next to the Assembly.
Steinberg sponsored the existing 2011 law (SB.946) which is due to expire in mid-2014.
“An estimated 12,500 Californians are currently receiving early autism treatment under the 2011 law with estimated savings to taxpayers of $200 million annually in special education costs, which were previously funded by school districts or regional centers," Steinberg said after the vote. "Californians with autism now have access to the most extensive insurance coverage of any state in the nation.”
The current law requires state-regulated health plans to cover behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, consistent with other benefits covered under their policies. Insurers are also required to maintain an "adequate" network of ABA providers.
Steinberg has also committed to working with Governor Jerry Brown to restorebehavioral treatment for children with autism who lost their services during the transition from the Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal.
“While SB 946 is a proud achievement, it's not nearly enough," said Steinberg. "This year we intend to fight to make sure all kids regardless of whether they're on public or private insurance get the benefit of behavioral therapy. We must seek to include behavioral treatment for autism in Medi-Cal Managed Health Care to ensure children receive necessary and equitable services.”
36% of special needs parents cite autism
WASHINGTON, DC (May 16, 2013) -- In its fourth annual survey of military families, Blue Star Families found widespread dissatisfaction among special needs parents in the military with medical, educational and housing services, including access to ABA.Of the 5,125 military families who responded, 19 percent said they were receiving special needs services through themilitary; of those, 36 percent cited autism as their child's disability.
A national, non-profit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserves, Blue Star Families conducted the online survey in November 2012 and obtained 5,125 responses from service members stationed domestically and abroad.The survey found that31 percent of the special needs parents enrolled in the military's Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)felt their participationhad harmed their military careers.
"Navigating the military healthcare system to obtain services can be challenging for caregivers for Exceptional Family Members (EFM)," the report said. "The National Council on Disability noted that it is even harder for young parents, those with more than one exceptional family member, those who themselves are exceptional family members, and those with a deployed service member."
Fewer than half of the families responding to the survey said they felt supported by their chain of command,the EFMP at their base or the surrounding civilian population.In addition, shortcomings were found with TRICARE, the Department of Defense health insurance program for active duty and retired personnel.
"Families may also struggle when trying to obtain recommended specialty services that are not covered by TRICARE, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for children withautism," the report found. ABA has been restricted to active duty members by TRICARE and a one-year pilot program ordered by Congress last year for all service members has been delayed indefinitely due to budget issues. Inaddition, TRICARE has been sued in a federal class action suit for restricting access to ABA.
The survey also addressed the financial impact ofpaying out-of-pocket for services not covered under TRICARE by quoting two Navy spouses.
“He probably would've stayed in (active duty) if hefelt that wewould not have to spend so much money out of pocket obtaining speech, occupational, and physical therapy for our son,” said one. The other Navy spouse said, "Moving duty stations requires military families to re-enroll in EFMP program services. This means that children may be waiting for months, often times a year, to access services.”
Access to state Medicaid waivers also arose in the Blue Star report, which noted that every time a military family redeploys to another state theydrop to the bottom of the new state's waiver list.
"Sixty-four percent of respondents reported di?cultyaccessing community/state-based supports, suchas Medicaid waiver bene?ts," the report found. "In addition, 55 percent of respondents with an EFM also reported di?culty ?nding adequate housing when relocating."
Special needs parents overall said they were satisfied with their child's educational services, until they are required toenroll into another school district as a result of redeployment. Two thirds of the respondents said educational accommodations were "challenging" following relocation.
"Newschool districts will honor the previous individualized education program (IEP), but the district has authority to decide how the goals and objectives will be met and it maynot be through the same exact program or services," the report said.
Blue Star Families in the report urges better supports for special needs families when they relocate, including the ability to maintain Medicaid waiver services when they move to another state. Autism Speaks is supporting efforts to make TRICARE coverage of ABA for all military members permanent and atthe levels prescribed by medical professionals.
Bill requiring autism coverage, including ABA, approved 105-7
RALEIGH (May 15, 2013) -- The North Carolina House of Representatives voted 105-7 for a bill that would require state-regulated health insurers to cover common autism therapies, including ABA. The measure moves next to the Senate.
North Carolina is one of just 18 remaining states yet to enact autism insurance reform.
Sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Tom Murry (R-Wake) and Phil Sheppard (R-Onslow), HB498 would cover speech, occupational and physical therapy; behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, would be covered for up to $36,000 a year. The bill would take effect October 1.
Benefits would be covered through age 23; children would have to be diagnosed by age 8 to qualify.
In addition, the bill would benefit military families stationed in North Carolina by removing restrictive laws that prevent providers covered under TRICARE, the Department of Defense health insurance program, from operating in the state. North Carolina is home to more than a quarter million active duty and retired military personnel stationed out of facilities such as Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.
Autism insurance benefits would continue past age 10 under bill sent to House floor
AUSTIN (May 14, 2013) -- The Texas House Insurance Committeeapproved 6-0 a bill that would eliminate the current age 10 cap for receiving autism insurance benefits. Already approved by the Senate, SB.1484 now heads to the House floor for a final vote.
Sponsored by Senators Kirk Watson of Austin, Wendy Davis of Forth Worth and Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville, the bill eliminates the current agecap of 10 onautism insurance benefits that was enacted in 2009. When Texas became just the third state nationally toenact autism insurance reform in 2007, coverage was limited for children aged3 to 5.
The current law requires state-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, including behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as well as speech, occupational and physical therapy. The age change would take effect in September if the bill becomes law and would limit annual ABA benefits to $36,000 for children aged 10 and above.
Texas is one of four states with existing autism insurance reform laws that has picked up bills to expand coverage this year. A fifth state,New Mexico, has already enacted a new law expanding its coverage to public employees.
Clears House Insurance Committee by 25-4 vote
RALEIGH (May 14, 2013) -- The North Carolina autism insurance reform bill cleared its first hurdle today, gaining approval 25-4 in the House Insurance Committee. North Carolina is one of 18 remaining states yet to require state-regulated health plans to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism.
The bill goes next tothe House Appropriations Committee.
Sponsored by Reps. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson), Treicia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Tom Murry (R-Wake) and Phil Sheppard (R-Onslow),HB498would cover speech, occupational and physical therapy; behavioral health treatment, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, would be covered for up to $75,000 a year. The bill would take effect October 1.
In addition, the bill would benefit military families stationed in North CarolinA by removing restrictive laws that prevent providers covered under TRICARE, the Department of Defense health insurance program, fromoperating in the state. North Carolina is home to more than a quarter million active duty and retired military personnel stationed out of facilities such as Camp Lejeune, Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced $150 million in new funding to help more uninsured Americans enroll in new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Funding will go to eligible community health centers to help consumers understand their coverage options, determine their eligibility and enroll in new affordable health insurance. The deadline for health centers to apply is May 31, 2013. Find a health center near you.
The U.S. Department of Justice has settled a lawsuitagainst the Golden Corral restaurant in Westland, MI, for disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit alleged that Golden Corral refused to serve a mother and her children because they had a genetic skin disorder,epidermolysis bullosa. The mother explained her children's disability and that they weren't contagious, but the manager requested the family leave based on customer complaints.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has charged Fabricut, Inc. of Tulsa, OK with alleged disability discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fabricut was also charged with alleged violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Actwhen it asked for the job applicant's family medical history. The company refused to hire an applicant after a pre-employment medical exam found that she may havecarpal tunnel syndrome.