the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Resources for Individual and Workplace Wellness: An Update from the NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee

Increased violence in our communities results in more victims – and victim advocates – seeking ways to stay well and opportunities for support. Trauma and vicarious trauma deeply impacts people.

The NCIL Violence & Abuse Subcommittee encourages Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to make time to support peers and staff in daily wellness and sharing wellness resources. Tending to workplace wellness and supporting individual wellness plans will go a long way as we persist in the face of oppressive systems and the attacks on our civil rights across our country.  [Read more…]

Project Innovate

By Rudy Contreras, NCIL Veterans Subcommittee Member

Like all goals in life, it all started with a dream, an idea to think beyond the social norm and reach for the stars. Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS) Executive Director Rudy Contreras envisioned a program unlike any other. The idea of bringing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to youth with disabilities became a journey of collaboration and unity. With the partnership from the Columbia Memorial Space Center, SCRS launched the first ever STEM program designed specifically for youth with disabilities in February 2017. SCRS selected youth from six different high schools with various disabilities; all participating in a program to empower them to become future innovators.  [Read more…]

CIL-NET Presents… An IL Conversation via Teleconference: Parenting with a Disability

  • Presented by: Kelly Buckland, Sarah Launderville, Susan Yuan, and Kimberly Tissot
  • September 21, 2017; 3:00 – 4:30 PM Eastern

Join to discuss:

  • Work the NCIL Taskforce on Parenting with a Disability is involved in
  • Opportunities available for advocacy
  • Rights of parents with disabilities
  • Where we need to go from here

Join the conversation via teleconference: 281.404.1544 using PIN 9558554.  [Read more…]

Free Webinar: Business Acumen – Tools to help you succeed!

Business Acumen Center Logo - Providing Resources to Sustain Disability OrganizationsBusiness Acumen describes an organization’s ability to quickly and keenly understand and address a business situation in a manner that will likely to lead to a good outcome. Many Community Based Organizations (CBO)* seeking to diversify their payer portfolios – specifically those seeking to sell or deliver services to health plans and other payers or providers of health services – find that they must learn or strengthen existing skill sets. Organizations effective in engaging stakeholders, developing relationships, negotiating and contracting, understanding and maximizing the financial position, articulating the business case for services and navigating change while maintaining the organization’s mission are positioned for success in a changing environment.  [Read more…]

Survey to Help Improve Financial Services for Service Members, Veterans and their Families

Source: National Disability Institute (NDI)

Are you an active duty Service Member or Veteran? If so, make your voice heard by taking less than 10 minutes of your time to complete this voluntary, anonymous and confidential survey.

The National Disability Institute (NDI) has worked closely over the past several years with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Veterans Affairs to identify opportunities to improve the overall financial wellness of Veterans, Service Members and their families. NDI is seeking survey responses in order to better understand how to help members of our military and veteran communities connect to and benefit from trusted, reliable, no-cost local community-based tax and financial services.

Ticket to Work Announcements

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that federal contractors and subcontractors – companies doing business with the federal government – take affirmative action to recruit, hire, employ, promote, and retain qualified people with disabilities. You can learn more about Section 503 with latest resource from Ticket to Work: Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act: Working for a Federal Contractor. This document answers frequently asked questions, including:

  • What is Section 503?
  • What does self-identification mean?
  • What does Section 503 mean to Social Security disability beneficiaries?

Ticket to Work is also hosting a Work Incentives Seminar Event (WISE) webinar on September 27, which will focus on Ticket to Work and Work Incentives for people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Register for this free webinar online.

Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill Introduced

This Wednesday, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) proposal (PDF), the Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make major cuts to Medicaid.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingLike the previous bills we’ve seen, the GCHJ proposal would eliminate coverage and protections for millions while completely decimating Medicaid. The proposal would repeal the ACA individual and employer mandates, eliminate assistance that makes coverage affordable, revoke protections for people with pre-existing conditions, phase out Medicaid expansion, and dramatically cut Medicaid by imposing per capita caps. Just like the other bills, the GCHJ proposal will be devastating for people with disabilities.

NCIL is closely monitoring the progress of the GCHJ proposal, and we will be sending out a targeted action alert next week with more information for constituents of key Republican Senators. In the meantime, call your Republican Senators NOW and urge them to oppose the GCHJ proposal!

You can reach your Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY). New tools are available at trumpcaretoolkit.org. You can also use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters; use faxzero.com to fax your Senators for free; or contact them via social media. You can find social media contacts on Contacting Congress.

What is Important to YOU about Community Living? Tell Your Story!

A Message from the HCBS Advocacy Coalition

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is a member of a national coalition of cross-disability and aging organizations supporting the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule called the HCBS Advocacy Coalition. The federal government issued the HCBS Settings Rule in 2014 to ensure that all people receiving Medicaid-funded HCBS have full access to the benefits of community living. Over the last three years, our coalition has worked collaboratively with federal agencies, states, and disability and aging stakeholders to ensure that implementation of the Rule fulfills its intent to ensure opportunities for community integration for all people receiving Medicaid-funded HCBS services. Throughout this process, the HCBS Advocacy Coalition has offered resources and feedback to ensure the Rule is implemented with integrity and that HCBS services are strengthened and promote a meaningful life integrated in the community.

What we do: As we meet with newly appointed high-level officials in the Trump Administration who are charged with implementing the HCBS Settings Rule, we continue to offer the expertise of the coalition. In order to strengthen our message, we need one key thing for these meetings – YOUR STORIES!

What we need: We need to share REAL stories, YOUR stories. Tell us about how you — as a person who receives HCBS services, a family member, friend or provider — have seen an improved quality of life, more independence, and more opportunities because of Medicaid-funded HCBS services. Tell us about your life in the community and about what participating in your community means to you. We particularly encourage stories from people who have transitioned to the community from an institution and from people with significant support needs.

How we will use your stories: We will use these stories to advocate for the strong implementation of the HCBS Settings Rule in your state, to protect the funding of HCBS services, and to make sure that people in leadership positions the federal government know how important and successful HCBS services are as they make policy decisions about community programs.

How to weigh in: Please send your story (500 words or less) and a photo (optional) to hcbsadvocacy@gmail.com Tell us what state you live in, whether you/your family member/friend/client receive HCBS for aging or disability services, what types of services you receive (help with work, getting dressed, shopping, etc.), how it has improved your/their quality of life, and anything else you want to share about the value of home and community-based services.

For more information about the HCBS Advocacy Coalition and the HCBS settings rule, visit www.hcbsadvocacy.org.

Thank you! Your voice is so important and we will raise it!

Join Representative Sensenbrenner: Urge Your Senators and Representatives to Cosponsor the Disability Integration Act!

Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) recently sent out a Dear Colleague letter (PDF) inviting his fellow members of the House of Representatives to cosponsor S. 910 and H.R. 2472, the Disability Integration Act (DIA). The DIA would solidify into law the right of disabled people to live and receive services and support in our communities. NCIL thanks Representative Sensenbrenner for his ongoing efforts to see the DIA become law! We would also like to thank the Wisconsin Independent Living community for all of their work with the Representative and his staff.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingDIA is continuing to gain momentum, and we need to keep pushing for additional cosponsors. Please keep visiting, calling, and writing your Senators and Representatives. Urge them cosponsor the DIA. When you meet with Members of the House, please share this Dear Colleague letter with them!

Cosponsor the Disability Integration Act

Request for Cosponsor(s)

Sending Office: Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Sent By: Michael.Steger@mail.house.gov

Dear Colleague,

I invite you to join me in supporting millions of people with disabilities across the country by becoming a cosponsor of the Disability Integration Act (S. 910/ H.R. 2472). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation – which I introduced in the House in May – secures in Federal law the Constitutional right to liberty for Americans with disabilities by ensuring that they have the choice to receive home and community based services and supports.  [Read more…]

Independent Living Appropriations Update

With the deadline for the end of the fiscal year fast approaching, Congress passed and the President signed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded at current levels and suspend the debt ceiling through December 8, 2017. The legislation also provides $15.25 billion in emergency disaster relief funding.

This CR gives Congress additional time to work on their appropriations bills. That said, both the House and Senate have passed their Labor-HHS-Education (L-HHS-Ed) bills out of the Appropriations Committee. Both bills level fund the Independent Living program at $101,183,000, which includes $22,878,000 in Part B funding and $78,305,000 in Part C funding.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingWhile level funding is far from what we need, we are very happy that neither the House nor the Senate accepted the President’s proposal to make cuts to the Independent Living program’s Part B funding to create his proposed “Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence” (P3I). Both the House and the Senate included the exact same language in their reports, stating that they recognize the unique role played by each program (Statewide Independent Living Councils, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and State Advisory Boards on Traumatic Brain Injury) and that consolidation would not serve the needs of people with disabilities. Thank you to everyone who spoke out against this proposal. Our collective action on this helped to avoid what would have been disastrous cuts.

Now Congress has until December 8, 2017 to finalize each of their 12 annual appropriations bills. While Congress has made significant progress on many of the individual spending bills, there are differences between House and Senate bills that will have to be reconciled. Further, if Congress does not raise the cap on discretionary funding that’s required under the Budget Control Act of 2011, sequestration will go into effect, resulting in across-the-board cuts that will severely impact the programs and services people with disabilities rely on, including the Independent Living Program. Read more about the history of the Budget Control Act and sequestration in a 2012 NCIL Action Alert.

We will continue to keep you updated as more information is available. You can review both the House and Senate’s bills and reports below.