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October 2013

On October 1st at 8:00am insurance Marketplaces opened in every state. These Marketplaces were made possible by the comprehensive health reformed signed into law by President Obama. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act guarantees that no US citizen will be denied insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions. This monumental healthcare reform is a step in the right direction for all Americans and especially for people with disabilities. In addition to making insurance available to those who could not access it before, the Marketplaces now act as a one-stop-shop for establishing non-employer-based insurance, including state programs. When an individual enters the insurance market through a Marketplace, their Medicaid and Medicare eligibility is automatically checked. If the individual is indeed eligible for a state insurance program, the person will be educated on how to sign-up for coverage.

For more information on the New York Insurance Marketplace, visit the New York State of Health.

September 26, 2013

Harkin Report Shines Spotlight on Barriers to Employment, Sets High Goal for Increasing Workforce Participation of the

‘ADA Generation’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today released a report on the ‘ADA Generation’—the young men and women who have come of age since the Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted—that offers bold steps to improve the employment of these young Americans as they seek competitive employment. Chairman Harkin was the Senate author of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 23 years ago, helped grant the promise of equality to Americans with disabilities. But today, more work remains to be done to knock down one of the last remaining barriers—the gap in workforce participation that exists for millions of young adults,” Harkin said. “A ripe opportunity exists for Congress, the federal government, and the business community to work hand-in-hand to make competitive, integrated employment the first choice for individuals with disabilities. The goals of equality of opportunity, full participation in American society, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency are the birthright of this young generation, and we must work together to ensure this promise is met.”

Chairman Harkin’s report identifies four key areas of opportunity to improve support for members of the ADA generation as they seek competitive employment. These areas are:

  • Increasing support for high school students as they plan for their transition into the workforce
  • Improving the transition of the ADA generation as they enter postsecondary education and the labor market
  • Changing the assumptions in disability benefit programs that discourage young people with disabilities from working
  • Leveraging employer demand, correcting misconceptions about employing people with disabilities, building strong pipelines from school to the competitive workforce, and establishing supportive workplaces.

Harkin also sets a high—but achievable—benchmark for increasing the workforce participation of young people with disabilities, to 250,000 by 2015. In 2011, Harkin worked with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to establish a goal of increasing the workforce participation of people with disabilities by more than 20 percent, from 4.9 million workers to six million workers by 2015. To accomplish these goals, Harkin reiterates that that the public and private sectors must work together to provide young adults of the ‘ADA Generation’ with quality work and internship experiences while they are still in school.

Harkin also calls for enactment of several key pieces of legislation—including a reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act­ (WIA)—to create opportunities and incentives for young people with disabilities to work. The HELP Committee recently passed by a bipartisan vote of 18-3 a WIA bill that reauthorizes the Rehabilitation Act, including vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs. Harkin worked on a bipartisan basis to make improvements to the Rehabilitation Act—Title V of WIA—aimed at making sure that young people with disabilities have increased preparation and opportunities for competitive, integrated employment. The bill requires state VR agencies, in conjunction with local educational agencies, to make “pre-employment transition services” available to students with disabilities.

The bill will also require individuals under the age of 24 with a significant disability to make a serious attempt at competitive, integrated employment—including getting pre-employment transition services and utilizing VR services—before he or she can consider working at a segregated workshop or sheltered employment setting. For individuals who are currently in sheltered employment settings, the bill will increase opportunities to move into competitive, integrated employment by requiring ongoing career counseling, information, and referrals about programs that offer employment-related services and supports. Updates to the bill also focus on creating better alignment of government programs at the national level that are focused on employment and independent living for people with disabilities.

Read Chairman Harkin’s full report here

September 2013

On August 26, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) was signed. The memorandum titled, Regarding a Federal-State Partnership to Test a Capitated Financial Alignment Model for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees, details the State's plan to enroll in a demonstration project with the Federal Government to test a new model of care coordination for the State's dual-eligibles (individuals covered by both Medicare and Medicaid). The demonstration project known as "Fully Integrated Duals Advantage" (FIDA) is a plan for the State to work with CMS to implement Managed Care for the State's 170,000 dual-eligibles, many of whom are elderly and disabled. It is anticipated that the demonstration will be implemented in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County in July, 2014. All dual-eligibles will automatically be enrolled in the program unless they opt-out before established due dates (September 1, 2014 for beneficiaries receiving community-based long-term care services and January 15, 2015 for beneficiaries receiving facility-based long-term care services).

The Coalition to Protect the Rights of New York's Dually Eligible, of which NYAIL is a member, has released a statement on FIDA and the newly released MOU to applaud some of the consumer protections included in the plan and to address important deficiencies and concerns important to the disability community. Most notable the MOU inadequately addresses enrollment protocol, rate-setting and reimbursement methodology, and protections related to care coordination and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.

For more information visit the links below:
Full MOU from CMS Website
CMS Fact-Sheet 
Medicare Rights Center Press Release

September 2013 

The New York health exchange is gearing up for plan enrollment beginning October 1, 2013. The exchange, officially titled NY State of Health, will provide quality, low cost health coverage to New Yorkers who are not insured through their employer. Currently over 2 million New Yorkers are uninsured, most of which qualify for NY State of Health plans or other public programs such as Medicaid or Medicare. To help individuals work through the health exchange, the state has funded organizations to work as "navigators". Navigators will assist individuals through the enrollment process. This includes helping them understand what insurance is available, determining whether or not they qualify for financial assistance or government programs, and performing a cost comparison of the options. Navigator services are available to any uninsured person and are free of charge. Fifty organizations in New York State have been awarded navigator grants, including seven Independent Living Centers:

- Southern Tier Independence Center
- AIM Independent Living Center
- Catskill Center of Independence
- Southern Adirondack Independent Living
- Massena Independent Living Center
- Westchester Disabled on the Move
- Center for Independence of the Disabled

For more information on NY State of Health, visit their website.

Monday, June 3rd was the Assembly's annual Legislative Disability Awareness Day.  

Read Speaker Silver's press release, which includes a list of the legislation passed, here: 

Assembly Passes Comprehensive Legislative Package as Part of its Annual Observance of Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day