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October 25, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Announces Disability Employment Outreach Day - PRNewswire

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today announced a Disability Employment Outreach Day event scheduled for Oct. 31 in Harrisburg and declared October as Pennsylvania Disability Employment Awareness Month. The event will provide...

Kroger named Employer of the Year by Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities - PRNewswire

CINCINNATI, Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) was named Employer of the Year by the Ohio Governor's Council on People with Disabilities for significantly contributing to employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Kroger was nominated for this...

Tools for Meeting Life's Challenges offers free informational seminar for families of children with cerebral palsy or catastrophic physical disabilities - PRNewswire

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Tools for Meeting Life's Challenges (Tools MLC), today announced that it will host a free seminar on Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 8:30 am to 12:45 pm at the Sheet Metal Workers Local #19 Union Hall at 1301 South Columbus Blvd. in...

Healthy Eating Eluding Many With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
People with disabilities are falling far short when it comes to consuming recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients, researchers say.

Study Finds Link Between Air Toxics, Autism - DisabiltyScoop
A new study has found links between autism and exposure to higher levels of certain air toxics during pregnancy and the first two years of life.

Autism Speaks Reports On Efforts To Improve New TRICARE Plan - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

Attempt to revise Autism Demonstration Program

October 24, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC (October 24, 2014) --Autism Speaks, military families and other service and advocacy organizations met last week with TRICARE and Department of Defense (DoD) representatives to address questions and concerns regarding coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) under TRICARE's new Autism Care Demonstration (ACD).A copy of TRICARE meeting handouts is included HERE.

The following summary of the TRICARE meeting is to help inform the community of issues discussed.Confirmation with your regional contractor is strongly recommended before making any decisions affecting your operations or a beneficiary's treatment plan.If you are not receiving a timely or complete response to your policy questions from the regional contractor, please email us at

  • Reimbursement rate cuts to services delivered by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts (BCaBA) have been put on hold for 180 days. The DoD has contracted with the RAND Corporation to conduct an independent study to assess ABA reimbursement rates.The Contractor shall continue to process claims at the prior reimbursement rates of $125 for services delivered by a BCBA and $75 for one-on-one ABA delivered by a BCaBA.A copy of TRICARE's letter to the regional contractors can be found HERE.
  • TRICARE confirmed that BCBA delivered services can be combined with the tiered service delivery model provided one BCBA is designated for treatment plan oversight. We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • The issue of one BCBA per case was raised, and TRICARE representatives confirmed that this meant that one BCBA must be responsible for care coordination and oversight of the patient's treatment plan.TRICARE further explained that this was “a billing issue” and “the ACD does not limit a team approach to ABA or preclude consultation with or assistance by other BCBAs.”We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • BCaBAs may perform supervision duties, but must also work under the supervision of a BCBA.When asked how BCaBA supervision services were to be billed, TRICARE explained that the BCaBA supervision must be billed by the BCBA.We requested this be clarified in policy to ensure consistent implementation across the three regions.
  • Concern was raised that the new Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification requirement may result in treatment delays.A one-year delay of this requirement was proposed by attendees.TRICARE agreed to re-examine its RBT timeline and the additional requirements it places on technicians over and above the RBT requirements.
  • There was discussion regarding the discharge criteria and the two-year clinical review included in the ACD policies; concerns were raised that other outpatient services do not have discharge criteria mandated in policy.The disparity between TRICARE's discharge criteria and the BACB guidelines was also discussed.TRICARE assured attendees that this language was not intended to discharge patients from care and that such decisions should be made at the clinician level with patients and parents.TRICARE agreed to reconsider the discharge language and the necessity of a two-year clinical review.
  • Concerns about the minimum age eligibility of 18 months were raised.TRICARE agreed to re-examine this requirement.
  • TRICARE confirmed that the monthly five percent supervision rule applied to time the behavior technician spends with each ABA recipient.
  • There was discussion emphasizing the importance of ensuring referring physicians receive a copy of the ABA treatment plan and progress report each six months.
  • There was discussion about expanding the pool of ABA providers to include licensed clinical psychologists as long as ABA was in the scope of their practice.TRICARE agreed to reconsider including licensed clinical psychologists as authorized ABA providers.
  • Concerns were raised that not all cost shares under the ACD accrue to the family catastrophic cap, resulting in significant out-of-pocket costs for non-active duty family members and effectively barring access to recommended treatment services. TRICARE and DoD personnel agreed to re-examine the ACD cost shares and catastrophic cap concerns, but it was unclear what the timetable for that would be.
  • Because of time, the group was not able to discuss concerns regarding limitations on treatment domains, but the handouts TRICARE provided for the meeting include assurances that, "The ACD interprets the medically identified ASD treatment domains as behavior, communication, and social skills broadly to include the array of targets identified by the BCBA during the development of the ABA treatment plan.The ACD does not limit ABA treatment plan targets developed by the BCBA but rather leaves treatment plan targets to the professional judgment of the BCBAThe change in terminology is intended to map care and treatment to medically defined requirements – not to limit the scope of care that can be provided.”
  • Autism Speaks will continue to work for positive policy improvements to ensure all beneficiaries with autism have access to affordable and timely services in a manner consistent with best practices. As policy develops, we will work to keep the community informed.

    Texas Conducts Review Of Medicaid Waiver Programs - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    Public asked to weigh in on compliance with new federal rules

    October 24, 2014

    October 24, 2014 -- Texas has assessed howits Medicaid waiver program for Home- and Community-Based Services complies with a new federal directivethat prohibits the states from "isolating" participants from the general community and is inviting public reaction.

    Individuals with autism and their caregiverswho receive or want Medicaid waiver funding can comment on the review, which was conducted by the Texas Department ofAging and Disability Services, through November 12.Feedback can be submitted by email

    What's the issue?

    Early this year, the federal government issued new guidelines that may affect how you as an individual with autism or a caregiver will receive services through Medicaid. Texas has reviewed howits Medicaid program complies with the new regulations, which can affect services such as in-home or out-of-home residential support, day activities like supported employment or day habilitation, and other services like respite and family support. For more information about these rules, check out this replay from Autism Speaks' live chat.

    What can you do about it?

    Texas isnow required to seek public input. This is your opportunity as an individual with autism or a caregiver to affect how these changes take place in your state.

    The new rules were published in early 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicaid program. The regulations outlined criteria for certain Home and Community-based Services (HCBS) programs operated under specific Medicaid waiver programs. (These rules do not apply to intermediate care facility or other Medicaid services – these rules apply only to Medicaid HCBS programs, including HCBS waivers.)

    Medicaid HCBS programs provide a variety of services and supports that individuals with autism need to live in the community. These programs offer an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities who need ongoing support to meet their functional needs. All states operate HCBS programs that serve individuals with developmental disabilities, like autism, but these programs vary widely from state to state in terms of eligibility requirements and available services. More information about Medicaid HCBS is available online.

    What do the new rules mean?

    The rules require all Medicaid HCBS programs to allow individuals to be able to choose their services and have access to the community. In particular, states are prohibited from using HCBS funding for settings that isolate individuals from the broader community. This is an important new protection that could help individuals with autism live in settings that are more integrated with the community.

    However, in implementing this new requirement, each state Medicaid office has significant discretion in determining whether a given setting results in “isolation.” As a result of the rules, states are beginning to 1) identify the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rules, and 2) develop plans on how they will change their HCBS programs.

    CMS developed these rules over a number of years, and Autism Speaks has long been involved in helping ensure that the needs of the autism community were represented in the development of these new standards. Now that the rules are final, states are beginning to implement the necessary changes to their programs including identifying the type of settings that may no longer be in compliance with the new rule, and to develop plans that outline any changes they will make to their HCBS programs as a result.

    What is Autism Speaks doing and what can autism families do?

    During this process, states are required to obtain input from advocates and Autism Speaks urges each state to seek and incorporate stakeholders' views on what constitutes isolating settings and how best to integrate individuals into the broader community. For more information on Autism Speaks' position on Housing and Residential supports, view our position statement here. Individuals with autism and their family know firsthand the barriers to true community integration and are the most appropriate individuals to help define isolating settings.

    Not sure what to say?

    Medicaid policy can be very confusing and the state documents that describe programs aren't written in a way that most people can understand. But that shouldn't stop advocates from expressing their opinion. CMS has published a set of exploratory questions that advocates can use to help them think about their experiences and create their message to state officials.

    If you are in a waiver program already, use these questions to tell about your experience. For example:

    • What was your experience planning your waiver services? Were you able to choose the services you wanted and get them where and how often you wanted?
    • Does the place where you get your services reflect your needs and preferences? Did you have options to choose from?

    If you are not yet receiving waiver services (because you are on a waitlist or otherwise) but expect to be using waiver services in the future, use these questions to talk about what services will be important to you in the future. For example:

    • Do you want to be able to work? If not, what type of meaningful non-work activities would you like to be involved in?
    • Would you like to have roommates or live on your own? How often would you like to have visitors? What types of supports are necessary for you to live as independently as possible?

    NY Overhauling Medicaid Waiver Program, Moving To Managed Care - Autism Speaks - Advocasy

    'People First Waiver' would replace current fee-for-service system

    October 23, 2014

    NEW YORK (October 24, 2014) -- New York State has developed a new "People First Waiver"program that would dramatically alter howMedicaid waiver programs are funded and operated has scheduled hearings across the state on October 27 to solicit public comment.

    Developed by the stateOffice for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the new programs, once finalized,will replace New York's current Medicaid waiver program with new plans that cover home health and institutional care, and one that covers home- and community-based services (HCBS).

    People First would transitionNew York out of its current fee-for-service program to a managed care model which, based on experience in other states,could significantly impact the quality and level of services provided to the state's disabled community.

    In addition, the HCBS services must incorporate a federal directive that Medicaid funding cannot be used to pay for settings that "isolate" people with developmental disabilities from society at large.

    "This includes opportunities to seek employment and work in competitive and integrated settings, engage in community life, control personal resources, and receive services in the community, to the same degree as individuals who do not receive HCBS," according to OPWDD.

    The issue gained urgency starting a year ago whenthe U.S. Department of Justice through an enforcement action forced Rhode Island toclose itsMedicaid-funded sheltered worskhop program because the participants were kept isolated from the community at large.

    "The Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Services will reflect OPWDD's mission and vision and will project our 5-year plan for implementing the transformational agenda around supporting people with developmental disabilities to enjoy meaningful relationships, experience personal health and growth, live in the home of their choice and fully participate in their communities," according to OPWDD.

    OPWDD has scheduled a live video conference at eight locations around the state withActing Commissioner Kerry Delaney for October 27 from 1 pm to 5 pm. The agency is urgingself-advocates, parents as well as other family members, non-profit providers, professionals, advocates, and other interested parties to participate.

    For thoseunable to attend, written testimony can be submitted to:

    Ray Pierce, OPWDD, 44 Holland Avenue, Albany, NY 12229, or
    via e-mail at

    Video Conference Locations and Contact Information

    Rochester (Finger Lakes)
    620 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY 14620
    Room 25 Leaf
    Contact: Tracy Scott at (585) 241-5729,

    Western New York:
    West Seneca
    1200 East and West Rd. West Seneca, NY 14224
    Building 16, Conference Room 1-153
    2295 Millersport Highway
    Getzville, NY 14068
    Contact: Mary Beth Blodgett (716) 517-2151,

    Syracuse(Central NY)
    187 N. Concourse, N. Syracuse, NY 13212
    Northern Concourse, Regional Training Center
    Contact: Beverly Gibbs at (315) 473-6976,

    Schenectady (Capital District)
    500 Balltown Road, Schenectady, NY 12304
    Building 3, Conference Room 2
    Contact: Karen Francisco at (518) 388-0431,

    Plattsburg (Sunmount)
    159 Margaret Street, Suite 104, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
    Contact: Jill Hewson at (518) 561-8190,

    521 Boices Lane, Kingston, NY 12401
    Contact: Amy Witkus (845) 382-1899 x104,

    New York City (Metro New York)
    25 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004
    Conference Room 3100, 364, and 3102
    Bernard M. Fineson
    Hillside Complex, Bldg. 80, 80-45 Winchester Blvd., Queens Village, NY 11427
    Contact: Claudette Walker at (646) 766-3466,

    Long Island
    415 A Oser Avenue, Hauppauge, NY 11788
    Multi-Purpose Conference Room
    Contact: Sheila Jones at: (631) 416-3842,

    For general information about the Public Forums, please contact
    OPWDD's Strategic Planning Office:
    Phone: (518) 473-9697

    October 24, 2014

    Nonprofit Uses Digital Media to Personify Mission - PRNewswire
    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Victory Living Programs has turned the microphone and video camera over to their most powerful advocates - the individuals they serve. In their newest promotional video entitled, "Independence Defined," Victory Living Programs...

    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Helps Keep Special Olympics Athletes Healthy - PRNewswire

    CHICAGO, Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is proud to support Special Olympics Illinois with more than $75,000 in funding: A Community Partners Grant of $27,000 will help fund the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes...

    Gonzales Joins California State Independent Living Council as Legislative Specialist - PRNewswire

    SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The California State Independent Living Council (SILC) is pleased to announce Desi Gonzales, J.D., has been hired as SILC's Legislative Specialist. Gonzales will be responsible for implementing the State Plan for Independent Living,...

    October 23, 2014

    Two Families Sue Crotched Mountain Foundation, Staff For Child Abuse - PRNewswire
    CONCORD, N.H., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Two families of young, disabled children receiving educational services at the famed Crotched Mountain Foundation filed suit against the institution today in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, detailing a number of serious incidents of...

    Power Wheels Offer Lift For Kids With Special Needs - DisabiltyScoop
    With no commercially-available device allowing young children with physical disabilities to get around, modifications are being made to Power Wheels cars to offer a chance at independence.
    October 22, 2014

    Wheelchair basketball coaching legend Tim Frick becomes first Paralympic coach to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame - PRNewswire

    TORONTO, Oct. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Wheelchair Basketball Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee congratulate legendary wheelchair basketball bench boss Tim Frick who today became the first Paralympic coach ever to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. The 2014 Induction...

    Carrington Charitable Foundation's 4th Annual Golf Classic Raises Over $1.4 Million for Wounded Heroes - PRNewswire

    ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Carrington Charitable Foundation (CCF) today announced that it raised over $1.4 million for wounded Heroes and their families at its 4th Annual Golf Classic event on October 6th, 2014. Held at The Resort at Pelican Hill in...

    Staying Above the Rising Waters: How Your Own Personal Emergency Preparation Can Save Your Life - PRNewswire
    SHORT HILLS, N.J., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This article is by Nate Herpich on behalf of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center (PRC). The PRC is a national resource which provides a road map of complimentary services and programs to empower...

    NYC Nursing Home, Gold Crest Care Center, Spotlights the Differences Between Hospice and Palliative Care Services for Chronic or Terminal Illnesses - PRNewswire

    BRONX, N.Y., Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Gold Crest Care Center, a leading nursing home in NYC, explains the differences in hospice and palliative care services and spotlights the center's hospice and palliative care service options. For more information, or to speak with a...

    AVACEN Medical Announces FDA Clearance of First Medical Device with Internal Game Mode - PRNewswire

    SAN DIEGO, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- AVACEN Medical announced today that its AVACEN 100 Class II medical device received 510 (k) OTC clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This clearance allows the AVACEN 100 to be marketed over the Internet for: the temporary relief of...

    Professional Diversity Network To Host Career Fair In Chicago - PRNewswire

    CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Professional Diversity Network, Inc. (Nasdaq:IPDN) announced it will host a Professional & Technology Diversity Career Fair in Chicago for diverse professionals including women, veterans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic...

    SSI Payments To Increase - DisabiltyScoop
    Monthly Social Security payments -- including those for Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries -- will go up next year.

    Accomplished Cross-Sector Leader Named UCP Chair - UPC
    Effective October 1, United Cerebral Palsy’s Board of Trustees welcomed new members and several new officers to help lead the national nonprofit organization for people with disabilities and their families. UCP has more than 80 affiliates in the U.S. and internationally. Gloria …
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    October 21, 2014

    Labor Secretary: Shift Away From Subminimum Wage An ‘Example' - DisabiltyScoop
    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is hoping that states will follow the federal government's lead in moving away from paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage.

    Family Wants Apology For Duct-Taped Son - DisabiltyScoop
    A teen with autism who was found duct-taped to a goalpost earlier this month has faced backlash over the incident, but his family says they don't want to see criminal charges in the case.

    AUCD Welcomes New Staff - AUCD
    AUCD is pleased to welcome several new and talented staff to our Central Office team!AUCD is pleased to welcome several new and talented staff to our Central Office! We are excited about the expertise they bring and the contributions we are confident they'll make in working for the network and people with disabilities.

    Three-time Paralympian Stephanie Dixon named Canada's Assistant Chef De Mission for the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games - PRNewswire

    Note to media: Broadcast-quality B-roll is available at High-resolution photos can be downloaded at OTTAWA, Oct. 21, 2014 /CNW/ - The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is pleased to announce that three-time Paralympic swimmer Stephanie...

    Feds Warn Schools On Bullying Of Kids With Disabilities - DisabiltyScoop
    In response to an increasing number of complaints, federal officials are reminding schools of their responsibilities to ensure that students with disabilities are not subjected to bullying.
    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...

    Last updated : October 25, 2014 - 09:28:26
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