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Most Recent DRW Announcements

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.


Disability Rights Wisconsin is pleased that the United States Department of Justice as part of its Project Civic Access has reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the City of Milwaukee to ensure the City’s compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the terms of the agreement the City will appoint an ADA coordinator, review architectural accessibility of City buildings, and ensure effective communication with Milwaukee citizens. In addition, the City will review emergency management procedures and shelters, and ensure polling place accessibility as well as accessibility for victims of domestic abuse.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Welcomes News that Plans for Family Care/IRIS Reforms are Withdrawn

For Immediate Release: June 10, 2106

Contact: Lisa Pugh, Public Policy Director

Disability Rights Wisconsin Welcomes News that Plans for Family Care/IRIS Reforms are Withdrawn

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) welcomes the news communicated by Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades to the Joint Finance Committee yesterday that the Department is withdrawing its concept plan for Family Care/IRIS 2.0.

Read the DHS letter here:

DRW has been working to turn back the significant reforms to the programs that serve more than 55,000 people with disabilities and older adults since the proposal to overhaul the long-term care system was announced in Governor Walker’s budget in early 2015.

“We are pleased that the voices of people with disabilities and older adults were heard,” says Lisa Pugh, Public Policy Director. “Wisconsin’s system of long-term services and supports are nationally recognized. People rely on these programs for their quality of life and ability to live and participate in their communities. It is essential that Family Care and IRIS continue to be designed and operate in a way that works for people and provides both what they want and need.”   Click here to read the rest of Disability Rights Wisconsin Welcomes News that Plans for Family Care/IRIS Reforms are Withdrawn »


In response to a Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition survey of 423 Wisconsin residents with disabilities, their families and caregivers: nearly 7% reported challenges at the polls or believed they were unable to vote in the most recent election.

Survey respondents reported that they did not even attempt to vote because they believed they didn’t have a valid photo ID or would have to cast a provisional ballot due to photo ID or registration issues. Others reported having trouble getting transportation to their polling place or issues at their polling place because of photo ID requirements or interpretation of the law’s requirements by poll workers.

The automated survey was conducted May 23 through May 24 and included individuals with disabilities, family members, and other caregivers. Click here to read the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition’s press release about the survey.

Take a Minute for Medicare

This is the last of a three part series on Medicare Preventive Services. This final article will focus on the most common preventive service that most Medicare beneficiaries receive, Part B covered vaccines.

Preventive vaccines (flu, pneumonia, and hepatitis B vaccines) are typically covered by Medicare at little or no cost to you. There are specific rules you must follow in order for Medicare to cover your vaccine as a preventive service:  Click here to read the rest of Take a Minute for Medicare »

DRW joins 193 organizations calling upon the FDA to finalize the ban on Electrical Stimulation Devices

DRW signed on to a letter asking for a ban on electrical stimulation devices that was sent to federal agencies on Wednesday, June 1. Click here to read the letter.

DRW Informational Session and Board Listening Session – Friday, June 17 – Janesville

WHERE: Rock County Job Center (where the ADRC is located)
1900 Center Ave.
Janesville, WI 53546

Informational Session
3:30 – 4:15 pm
Learn about Disability Rights Wisconsin and its Family Care/IRIS Ombudsman Program – presented by DRW staff.

Board Listening Session
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Come and share your ideas for the future of disability advocacy and the issues that need to be addressed in the areas of mental health, developmental disability, special education, physical disability services, and disability rights.

For details, click here.

Disability Rights Wisconsin Makes Recommendations on Implementation on new IRIS 40 Hour Rule

On May 23 Disability Rights Wisconsin sent a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) making recommendations on how to implement its 40-Hour Health and Safety Assurance Policy in a way that ensures health and safety for people who may have difficulty meeting the new worker limits. You can read DRW’s letter here: DRW Letter to DHS – 40-Hour Health and Safety Assurance Policy

The Department’s policy establishes that IRIS participant hired workers may provide no more than 40 hours of care per week for an IRIS employer. Read more about the Department’s policy here: DHS 40-hour policy. IRIS participants are being asked to sign a form to ensure they are in compliance with this new policy by December of 2016. You can see the form here: 40 Hour Health and Safety Assurance Participant Form. 

National disability advocacy groups have also recently provided guidance to states on how to come into compliance around new federal worker overtime regulations. Read this document from the Bazelon Center: Considerations for developing overtime exceptions.  Disability Rights Wisconsin will continue to monitor implementation of the Wisconsin policy and work with the Department to ensure that individuals continue to receive the care hours required to meet their needs.

New Brochure – In Wisconsin, Treatment Never Includes Sex

DRW worked with DHS to develop a brochure on sexual exploitation of mental health consumers in mental health services and substance abuse services. Approximately 10-13 percent of mental health providers self-report exploiting at least one client in their career services and of these, most report exploiting more than one client. It is important that consumers of mental health and substance abuse services be aware of the possible warning signs that they might be targeted for exploitation, know their rights, and know where they may receive assistance if they are being sexually exploited by a mental health professional.

Since April was sexual assault awareness month, we would like to provide a resource for people who may be experiencing sexual exploitation in treatment. To view and download the brochure, click here.