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People with Disabilities Need Access to Justice

Daniel Idzikowski, the Executive Director of Disability Rights Wisconsin, testified before the Wisconsin Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services about the disability rights movement and the need for legal representation to end discrimination, promote inclusion, and gain access to the courts for the basic legal needs of people with disabilities. To read his testimony, click here.

DRW supports immediate implementation of FDA ban on Electronic Stimulation Devices

Today, Disability Rights Wisconsin submitted comments to support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed ban on the use of electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) to treat self-injurious or aggressive behavior. DRW has long opposed the use of aversive conditioning devices utilizing electric shock and we call for an immediate ban of all such devices. Read our full comments in support of the ban here: DRW Comments FDA-2016-N-1111.

Federal Court Rules Against Restrictive Voter ID Law in Suit Brought by the ACLU

On Tuesday, July 19, in the ACLU’s challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law, the federal district court granted a motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the State to allow voters without ID to cast a regular ballot (not provisional) if they sign an affidavit attesting that they cannot obtain ID with reasonable effort. The injunction will be in effect for the November elections, and while the case is pending. The court found that the state’s interests could not justify disenfranchising voters who cannot obtain ID with reasonable effort.

To read the ACLU’s press release, click here.

Take a Minute for Medicare

This month we will start a new topic, Extra Help with Medicare Part D costs. There will be a series of three articles on Extra Help and how to find out if you are eligible.

What is Extra Help?
Many Medicare beneficiaries have difficulty in paying for their prescriptions. Making ends meet does not mean that you should go without your medications. When Medicare Part D was signed into law in 2003, a part of the law was passed to help those with limited income get “extra help” with the Medicare prescription drug costs. Medicare has allowed a number of different ways for eligible Medicare beneficiaries get help with their prescription costs.   Click here to read the rest of Take a Minute for Medicare »

Job Posting – IT Support Specialist – DRW Madison Office

DRW is hiring an IT Support Specialist. Position located in Madison. Technical support to staff in-house and remotely, maintain IT inventory and assist in the development of agency website and social media.  For detailed job announcement and application requirements please click here. Salary: $27,000 – $37,000 DOE.  Excellent fringe benefits.  Resume and cover letter due July 24, 2016. Members of racial/ethnic minority groups and persons with disabilities strongly encouraged to apply.  EEO/AA Employer.

Save Our SHIP – Senate Appropriations Committee May Cut All Funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a budget for federal fiscal year (FY) 2017 cutting all funding ($52.1 million) for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

The State of Wisconsin currently receives about $1 million annually through the federal SHIP grant. This funding is used to support the:

• Toll-free statewide Medigap Helpline and Medigap Part D and Prescription Drug Helpline operated by the Board on Aging and Long Term Care (BOALTC);

• Toll-free statewide Medicare Part D Helpline operated by Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) for people with disabilities and their families or guardians;

• Elder Healthcare Advocate (an attorney specializing in eligibility and transitions for BadgerCare Plus, the Health Insurance Marketplace and Medicare) at the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources (GWAAR); and

• Elder Benefit Specialist services in 72 counties and 11 tribes.

In 2015, staff working in these programs and services responded to over 95,000 contacts with Medicare beneficiaries and conducted over 2,600 public outreach events during that same period.  Click here to read the rest of Save Our SHIP – Senate Appropriations Committee May Cut All Funding for the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) »

Making Hard Time Harder: Report Outlines Need for Accommodations for Prisoners with Disabilities

More than 600,000 inmates with disabilities in prisons across the country spend more time in prison, under harsher conditions, than inmates without disabilities, according to research. On June 22, Amplifying Voices of Prisoners with Disabilities (AVID), a project of Disability Rights Washington, released Making Hard Time Harder: Programmatic Accommodations for Inmates with Disabilities Under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report outlines a nationwide lack of accommodations for inmates with disabilities.

“People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment,” stated Mark Stroh, Executive Director of Disability Rights Washington. “In drafting this report, we have found that inmates with disabilities are often neglected and excluded from programs, rehabilitation, and basic medical care, subjecting them to additional forms of punishment solely due to their disability.”
Click here to read the rest of Making Hard Time Harder: Report Outlines Need for Accommodations for Prisoners with Disabilities »

DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh reappointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

President Barack Obama has announced his intent to reappoint Disability Rights Wisconsin’s Public Policy Director, Lisa Pugh, to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID): President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts.The PCPID Was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

Last year Lisa worked with the committee to publish the PCPID report to the President:

Leveling the Playing Field: Improving Technology Access and Design for People with Intellectual Disabilities

PCPID 2015 Report to the President.

The PCPID will soon issue a report on reducing segregation of people with disabilities across the lifespan.

You can learn more about the PCPID here: http://www.acl.gov/Programs/AIDD/Programs/PCPID/index.aspx

DRW congratulates Lisa!


Parity in 2016: Your Health Insurance Rights to Mental Health and Substance Use Services – Presentation by DRW Staff Attorney Shunette Campbell Hunter

Willy Street Coop (West)
Monday June 27, 2016 6 pm. – 7pm.

6825 University Ave.
Middleton, WI 53562

(608) 284-7800

Parity in 2016: Your Health Insurance Rights to Mental Health and Substance Use Services
Presenter: Shunette Hunter – Disability Rights Wisconsin Staff Attorney

1. Description. The purpose of the training is to educate consumers, families and advocates about their rights under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). A major goal of the training is to equip consumers to advocate for their rights under this law. This will be a presenter-led power point presentation accompanied by an interactive dialogue and a consumer-friendly guide.

2.The power point presentation will include:

• A brief synopsis of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and comparison with state law.

• An overview of the scope of coverage using scenarios and hypotheticals.

• Common violations that result in a denial of benefits.

– How to ask your provider for something based on the Parity law.

• What to do when benefits are denied.

- Self-advocacy strategies and resources including forms and examples.

• Questions and answers.

Disability Rights Wisconsin mourns the passing of Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades

The disability community has lost an ally who was committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, mental illness, and dementia. Secretary Rhoades had a strong record of engagement with the disability community and was a vigorous proponent of self-determination and community-based services for people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Wisconsin has always valued our partnership with the Secretary.

“I recall getting several direct calls from Secretary Rhoades over the years asking for our help in making sure people with the most complex needs could live in the community,” said Kit Kerschensteiner, Managing Attorney.

Throughout her career Rhoades was personally engaged with people with disabilities across the state and was a leader in advocating for funding for services for children with significant disabilities. She was one of the original proponents for self-direction and was a champion for increasing support for community-based mental health.

“Kitty was a strong and clear leader who worked to improve the system of care and supports for those with disabilities and older adults in Wisconsin. She was always respectful and open to differing perspectives,” stated Daniel Idzikowski, DRW’s Executive Director.

We join the health care community and the Department in expressing our sadness and condolences to the Secretary’s family and friends.