“America’s Medicaid Trap” for People with Disabilities

An Essay by Anna Landre

A young white woman with chin-length brown hair smiles at the camera. She wears a white shirt and sits in a black motorized wheelchair. Behind her are several blooming cherry blossom trees.
Anna Landre

Most non disabled people I meet seem to assume that the U.S. government provides disabled Americans all the services and supports we need to survive, and even thrive, as equal citizens.

Once, when I was coming home from the grocery store, I lost my grip on my bags and had to ask a passing stranger to pick them up for me. He was happy to help, but remarked, “They should give you a helper for things like this!” I almost laughed. He was right, but I have a hard enough time convincing unsympathetic government bureaucrats that I need to go to the bathroom more than once every 12 hours each day — let alone that I require help with more mundane tasks like grocery shopping. 

I’m twenty years old and a wheelchair user, and I need the services of a personal assistant to do some everyday activities like getting out of bed and getting dressed each day. If I and other disabled Americans are going to succeed in settings like work, home, and school, supports like these are an imperative. Unfortunately, though, they’re often withheld — keeping our success and inclusion far out of reach.

Read More at Disability Visibility Project by Clicking Here

The Truth Of Disability Employment That No One Talks About

By Sarah Kim, Contributor  –  Forbes.com – October 24, 2019

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and it’s about time to discuss the staggering unemployment and sub-minimum pay rates among the disability community.

According to data obtained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment-population ratio for people with disabilities was 19.1% in 2018, compared to 65.9% for people without disabilities. Although the lower rate among people with disabilities reflects, in part, the age profile of the population — older people are less likely to be employed — across all age groups, people with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than their non-disabled peers.

Out of the small population of people with disabilities who are hired, many receive sub-minimum wages. In recent years, there have been reports of an estimated 420,000 individuals with disabilities who have been paid an average of just $2.15 per hour.

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Gibbsboro Lottery Set for October

The lottery to establish the initial listing of applications is set to take place on October 9, 2019, beginning at 10:00 AM at the  Gibbsboro Senior Community Center located just behind the building at 250 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Gibbsboro, NJ 08026.  The lottery is open to the public.

For questions, please  call Dara Johnston at 609-699-6023

September 11th Remembered

Norman A. Smith looking up at camera smiling dress in a green shirt and cap with CERT written on bothThis month marks eighteen years since the attacks of September 11th. It is also National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is Prepared, Not Scared.  The timing is no coincidence.

For many  the memory of that awful September day in 2001 is fading, but my memories are still vivid down to my shirt and tie.  The day started out so bright, beautiful, and refreshing, but it ended so dark and frightening.  The feeling of anger and uncertainty spread around us like a cloaking fog.

Every year since the attacks, I choose to pay tribute to the three elements that create my memory of that day.  First, I honor the life of my friend and colleague Colleen Fraser who died on Flight 93 with those other selfless heroes who may have saved the Capitol or the White House or thousands of other lives.  Colleen was a fighter, and she was in good company that morning fighting to take back that plane.

Second, I remember the lives of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died that day.  Most knew going into those buildings that some of them would not come out alive.  They knew this instinctively by virtue of their experience and profession.  They still went in with police officers and EMS personnel to save those who could not save themselves.  They went in to save people with disabilities.

And, yes, thirdly, I remember those people with disabilities who died that day in those towers.  I was not watching the horror on television that morning.  I had a meeting at 10:00, and during that meeting I spoke of Colleen and wanting to connect her with someone.  Later, someone told me of the collapse.  My very first thought was that many firefighters had just died; my immediate second thought was that many people with disabilities had died as well.

How many people with disabilities died that morning may never be known.  We do know that the corporations and government agencies housed in those towers hired people with disabilities.  We do know that some people with disabilities made it out because they had a plan, their company had a plan, or some colleague or friend took the initiative to get them out.   We do know that others stayed behind not wanting to burden friends, not wanting to get in the way, or just having unwavering faith that the FDNY would get to them.  We also know that loyal friends stayed behind with them.  We know that some people with disabilities who stayed were rescued but many died with their rescuers.

Every victim of these attacks needs to be remembered and honored.  I feel a personal duty to honor Colleen, The 343, and those almost nameless people with disabilities who stayed behind.

Let us all remember the victims and the heroes of September 11,, 2001, by getting prepared and staying prepared.  You never know how a bright, beautiful, and refreshing day may end. 

 

 

 

We Are In The News!

Developer proposes Hamilton affordable housing complex for special needs individuals

HAMILTON — Nearly seven acres of trees will be removed and a special needs housing complex will be built off Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Way if the Hamilton Township Planning Board approves a developer’s pending application.

Project Freedom Inc. is scheduled to present its affordable housing plan at Thursday’s planning board meeting.

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An Open Letter to Mothers of Disabled Children

by Erin Andrews, PhD  —  Disabled Parenting Project (www.disabledparenting.com)  

 Erin Andrews serves as a parent advisor and co-researcher for the DPP. She is a board certified rehabilitation psychologist.

As a disabled mother, I can’t help but reflect sometimes on my own entrance into the world. As a member of several online (primarily nondisabled) parenting groups, I find myself triggered by social media posts about babies born disabled or young children being diagnosed with disabilities. As a way to process my own emotions, I decided to write this letter. It is a letter I wish my own birthmother could have had, and I something hope new mothers of disabled children will read.


Dear Mom,

I know you’re confused and scared. I don’t look exactly like you expected. The doctors tell you I’m deformed, that I’m defective. You are supposed to be devastated. Don’t be. Look at me – touch me. Suspend judgment while you explore my tiny new self. Notice how the contours and folds of skins are uniquely mine. I came from you – you made me, and I’m perfect. 

READ more of the Open Letter by Clicking Here

From Norman’s Desk – February 2019

Norman A. Smith, Associate Executive Director

Thousands of people with disabilities turned to YouTube and Facebook at 3:00 pm on January 15 this past month to watch history. A piece of civil rights legislation reintroduced on that day to the 116th Congress to fight for the independence of all people, but especially people with disabilities and senior citizens.

The Disability Integration Act — originally introduced in 2016 by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. — prohibits states or local governments that provide institutional placements for individuals with disabilities who need long-term assistance, and prohibits insurance providers that fund such long-term services, from denying community-based services that would enable such individuals to live in the community and lead an independent life.

Without this in place, people who are eligible for services could be forced into nursing homes or other institutions by their insurance. This legislation ensures that disabled Americans have a right to live and receive services in their own homes.  It prevents people with disabilities from being forced into expensive institutional settings because of government regulation.

The Disability Integration Act also requires public entities to address the need for affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is independent of service delivery.

Watch parties were held at Centers for Independent Living and other advocacy genies throughout the nation. One was held in my office.  We came together with excitement and a tremendous determination to get the D.I.A. passed in the 116th Congress.

A little historical perspective.  The D.I.A. was crafted from 25 years of work dating back to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The original legislation was first introduced by Speaker Newt Gingrich (R, GA).  Yes, the stalwart of Conservative value and fiscal policies first introduced the basis of today’s D.I.A..     Gingrich saw the value of keeping people with disabilities and seniors out of nursing homes.

Unfortunately, today’s Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), has ignored requests for two years to   become a co-sponsor of the D.I.A. Yes, this champion of Liberal ideas and fiscal policies and her immediate party subordinates have shamefully not responded to the disability community’s requests.  This is the same person who lauded people with disabilities who put their bodies on the floor to stop the repeal of Obamacare.

My point is the Disability Integration Act cannot be looked at through Liberal or Conservative perspectives.  It has an elements of both because it saves taxpayers and insurance company’s money while keeping people living with both freedom and support.

So far, three of New Jersey’s congressional representatives have signed on as co-sponsors. They are: Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman, and Rep. Donald Payne.  I hope to name more next month as I use my personal Twitter account to “recruit” co-sponsors from our state. 

There is great expectations that the D.I.A. will pass this year.  I expect passage in the House but not in Senate this time, but we shall determine if grassroots advocacy by people who cannot walk, talk, see, or hear works again!

Norman A. Smith
Follow me on Twitter @normansmith02