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On Target  eNews                                              March 2016

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On Target eNews comes to you the first Tuesday of each month with updates on our clients, our organization, and our work. We also publish a full newsletter three times a year.

Don't forget to vote!

I-Voted 2March 15, 2016 is North Carolina's primary election. Read information on the new voter ID requirements.

2016 Disability Advocacy Conference coming soon!

Check out our webpage to see the full agenda, register, book a hotel room, or learn about available scholarships.

April 20, 2016

8:30 am - 5:00 pm

The Friday Center

Chapel Hill, NC

$125 - Registration for Non-Attorneys

$160 - Registration for Attorneys Seeking CLE Credit

Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, and materials

New this year

* Presentation of a mock IEP meeting and special education Q&A with Disability Rights NC attorneys

* Up to 4.75 hours of CLE credit (including 1 hour of ethics) for attorneys licensed in NC

* 5 Breakout Session time slots offering 15 different topics

* Longer breaks between sessions

* Expanded networking luncheon sponsored by Henson & Fuerst

Keynote speaker

"From Guardianship to Supported Decision-Making" by The Honorable Kristin Booth Glen, Dean Emerita at CUNY School of Law

Awards winners announced

Chris 2015-2

Christine Trottier

Disability Rights NC will present three awards at our April 20, 2016 Awards Reception. The Adele Foschia Award for Lifetime Cross-Disability Advocacy will go to Christine Trottier, a dedicated advocate who spent her entire career fighting for the dignity and the rights of children and adults with disabilities. This is the first year we will present the Adele Foschia award.

We will present two 2016 Champions for Equality and Justice Awards. One will go to Sandra "Sam" Hedrick, a compassionate and forward-thinking provider of supports and services for people with disabilities in North Carolina.

Another will go to Bethany Smith, a young advocate determined to use her own struggles in the fight to end the stigma of living with a mental illness.

The Awards Reception will follow our annual conference and will be held at Extraordinary Ventures in Chapel Hill. Purchase tickets for $35.

Autism-related services covered for children on Medicaid

A recent News & Observer article inadvertently promoted a common misunderstanding around Medicaid coverage of autism-related services.

The February 12, 2016 article offered great news for families of children with autism who have private insurance. It describes a new state law that will require private insurance companies to cover autism treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for children under 18 in new policies issued after July 1, 2016.

The problem is that the article stated that if a child is on Medicaid rather than private insurance, then the child is not covered for this type of treatment. This is not true. In fact, the federal Medicaid program requires states to cover medically necessary autism-related services for children under 21, including ABA. This coverage is required under the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Medicaid benefit.

Disability Rights NC has seen cases in which children have been denied these services despite their medical necessity. Even among the professionals responsible for approving or denying coverage there has been a great deal of misinformation.

Disability Rights NC is working with the state Medicaid office and the managed care organizations to improve the system so that every child who qualifies for these services has access to them. This fact sheet further explains the EPSDT benefit.

Services denied to woman with Alzheimer’s disease

In the world of Medicaid-covered services, a simple misunderstanding can have a profound effect on a family.

Martha’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease. At nearly 90 years old, she needs help with daily living tasks, and she was receiving 80 hours in personal care services each month. When she returned home from a rehabilitative facility after a fall, she had even more trouble, with no capacity to bathe or dress herself, and extremely limited ability to move around and eat by herself.

So Martha requested an increase in her mother’s personal care services. Unfortunately, after an assessor came to their home to evaluate her mother’s needs, her request for additional services was not only denied, but her existing personal care service hours were eliminated.

Disability Rights NC agreed to help Martha with her mother’s situation, and after mediation, the 80 hours per month in personal care services was restored and an additional 50 hours per month was granted for a total of 130 hours per month.

Where was the disconnect? When the assessor had asked Martha if she worked, she replied, “Who has time to work?” She was caring for her mother full time, which, in the eyes of the assessor, meant her mother’s needs were not going unmet. But Martha wanted and needed to work.

In this case, the misunderstanding was cleared up, and Martha’s mother ultimately received the services she desperately needed.

A call to end solitary confinement for juveniles

Disability Rights NC renewed its call for Commissioner of Adult Correction & Juvenile Justice David W. Guice to ban solitary confinement for youth in state prisons last month after President Obama announced that he was banning restrictive housing for juveniles in federal prisons.

Said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC: “These are young people who need help, and solitary confinement does the opposite, causing long-lasting psychological harm. Paranoia, hallucinations, difficulties with impulse control, depression, aggression, even suicidal ideation…the science shows isolation contributes to mental illness. It’s simply not right to subject struggling youth to this abusive practice.”

Disability Rights NC has found in its periodic checks of the state’s juvenile prison population that the percentage of 16- to 17-year-old youth in restrictive housing has ranged from 21 percent to 38 percent over the past year. In addition to calling for the end to segregated confinement, Disability Rights NC calls for better conditions for youth who are placed in restrictive housing, including more physical exercise and mental health assessments.

In a Washington Post opinion editorial, President Obama commented, “Some studies indicate that [solitary confinement] can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.”

A News & Observer article includes Commissioner Guice's response to the call from Disability Rights NC.

Job Opportunity: Policy Analyst

Disability Rights NC is seeking a policy analyst who will be responsible for researching and analyzing disability policy issues. Our public policy activities cover a broad range of issues, including but not limited to health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, voting, and criminal justice. Full job description.

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