Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Urge Governor Cuomo to Sign the Visitability Tax Credit Bill into Law!

ACTION ALERT in all capital letters, white, against a dark red background

The Visitability Tax Credit bill (A.5950/S.2411) was delivered to Governor Cuomo today for his action. He now has 10 days to sign it into law or veto. This bill would provide homeowners with a tax credit of up to $2,750 to renovate their home to make it more universally visitable, or to go toward the cost of developing a universally visitable home.

ACTION:

Call Governor Cuomo today at # 518-474-8390 and urge him to sign the visitability tax credit bill, A.5950/S.2411, into law.

Say "I am calling to urge Governor Cuomo to sign the Visitability Tax Credit bill (A.5950/S.2411) into law. This tax credit is needed to help people with disabilities and older New Yorkers with the costs of making their homes more accessible and would allow people to age in place"

Background:

The disability community has long advocated for New York to increase the accessible housing stock across the State by incentivizing the use of "visitability" design standards. This includes basic accessible features, including:

One no-step entrance
An accessible path to the door
Hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair
An accessible bathroom on the first floor

Due to the high cost of home modifications, many people cannot afford to make changes to their homes to make them more accessible, or to move to a more accessible home. Most prefer to remain at home rather than move to nursing facilities or different, more accessible housing as their needs change. However, many are forced out because their homes are no longer safe or practical for them to live in. This tax credit will help to ensure that people with disabilities and older New Yorkers are able to afford these modifications and remain in their homes.

The NYS legislature passed similar legislation in 2015 and 2016. Governor Cuomo vetoed this legislation twice, indicating his support for the concept, but stating it had to be done in the context of the Budget. Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo didn't include this in his proposed Executive Budget. It has now passed the legislature for a third year in a row and is on the Governor's desk for action.

Previous vetoes indicated that there was a need to better understand the cost estimates for such a program. For this reason, the sponsors included a $1 million cap per year in aggregate. As the program would now be considered a pilot project, the State has five years to determine whether this cap is sufficient to meet the needs of the population. Further, the State can simply include the $1 million in the 2018-19 State Budget since it would not take effect until January 1, 2018, or after.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall Accessibility Month ... Wrap-Up and Results

Fall Accessibility Month sign, with illustration of a person in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and an orange colored maple leaf

September is just about over, and so is Fall Accessibility Month. Our first month focusing on doing online business accessibility ratings has produced some good results. As of today, the following Plattsburgh restaurants have been accessibility rated on the AbleRoad website. Click the links to see the detailed ratings:

Starbucks
4 1/2 Stars
359 Route 3
Plattsburgh

Latitude 44 Bistro
4 Stars
5131 US Avenue
Plattsburgh

Burger King
4 Stars
305 Cornelia Street
Plattsburgh

Below Deli
3 1/2 Stars
37 Bridge Street
Plattsburgh

Our House Bistro
3 1/2 Stars
15 Bridge Street
Plattsburgh

DeLish By Irises
3 1/2 Stars
24 City Hall Place
Plattsburgh

Pizza Hut
2 1/2 Stars
5069 US Avenue
Plattsburgh

Irises Cafe & Wine Bar
1 Star
20 City Hall Place
Plattsburgh

This is a good start, but there are still 72 restaurants in the Plattsburgh area that need accessibility ratings. This is a long-term project, and in January, 2017 will be the first Winter Accessibility Month.

In the meantime, you can still help us by registering for free at AbleRoad, looking up unrated restaurants in the 12901 Zip Code, and giving star ratings the restaurants you visit.

Start by visiting AbleRoad and getting set up to add accessibility ratings. Or, you can call, (518-563-9058), or stop by NCCI and ask for a list of restaurants to rate.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Action Alert! Call Congressional Representatives from New York to Oppose the Graham-Cassidy Bill

Action Alert in bold white text on dark red background

Act today to stop the Republicans in the Senate from repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making devastating cuts to Medicaid!

The Graham-Cassidy proposal is the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut the Medicaid program. It will have a devastating impact on Medicaid, especially in New York State, which will suffer billions of dollars in Medicaid funding cuts if this bill passes.

It would cause virtually all of the same devastating impacts  as previous repeal bills already rejected by the Senate, and would disproportionately harm seniors and people with disabilities. This bill would:

- Allow insurers to charge individuals with pre-existing conditions more money for health coverage

- Cap and block grant Medicaid (the equivalent of Medicaid cuts)

- Cut funding for Medicaid expansion

- Cut funding for financial assistance that helps low-wage workers and moderate-income families buy private insurance

- Repeal the ACA individual and employer mandates

This bill is gaining momentum in the Senate, and it must be stopped! While our New York Senators are thankfully opposed to this harmful bill, it is important that we push for Republican Representatives in the House to come out in opposition!

ACTION:

Call the following Congressional Representatives and urge them to come out publically in opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Lee Zeldin, First District  #202-2253826
Peter King, Second district #202-225-7896
Daniel Donovan,11th district #202-225-3371
John Faso, 19th District #202-225-5614
*** Elise Stefanik  21st district #202-225-4611 ***
Claudia Tenney  22nd district #202-225-3665
Tom Reed, 23rd  District #202-225-3161
John Katko, 24th District #202-225-3701
Chris Collins, 27th District #202-225-5265

Urge them to:

- Oppose the Graham-Cassidy proposal and any other bill that cuts, caps, or block grants Medicaid.

- Support bi-partisan efforts to stabilize the healthcare marketplace and improve healthcare for all.

Click the link below to log in and send your message:
https://www.votervoice.net/BroadcastLinks/UC5slzTqmoDnaJfoCEoa5g

Additional Resources:

Kaiser Family Foundation
http://www.kff.org/medicaid/fact-sheet/5-ways-the-graham-cassidy-proposal-puts-medicaid-coverage-at-risk/

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-to-uninsured

Manatt Health
https://www.manatt.com/Insights/White-Papers/2017/Impacts-of-New-Graham-Cassidy-Repeal-and-Replace-P

This is an Action Alert from the New York Association on Independent Living.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Paratransit Vote Coming!

The Clinton County, NY Legislature is due to vote at their September 27, 2017 meeting on a plan to reduce transit costs by eliminating Paratransit services in the greater Plattsburgh area, and replacing it with route deviation. Click here to read the full plan. The plan includes this map showing the areas where Paratransit would be replaced by Route Deviation.

Paratransit is an accessible bus service intended to serve people with disabilities who can't navigate the regular bus routes and schedules, even when those buses are physically accessible. It is an individual pickup service, currently available by appointment throughout the county, during regular bus hours.

Route Deviation is when a bus diverts from its regular public route to pick up a specific passenger, such as a person with a disability. It provides a more limited door to door service within a narrower area, and is dependent on the regular bus schedules.

This issue has been discussed in several public meetings over the last several months. It has also been covered in local newspapers. To learn more, you can read the articles linked below, listed in chronological order:

County weighing elimination of paratransit service
Pete Demola, Sun Community News - June 1, 2017

Proposed Clinton County bus schedule change brings rider angst
Joe LoTemplio, Press-Republican - June 1, 2017

Para-transit riders: Don't take away our independence
Joe LoTemplio, Press-Republican - June 5, 2017

Change in para-transit system moves to planning stage
Dan Heath, Press-Republican - June 12, 2017

Transit officials to craft paratransit replacement plan
Elizabeth Izzo, Sun Community News - June 13, 2017

County moving toward para-transit change
Joe LoTemplio, Press-Republican - September 11, 2017

County paratransit plan slated for final vote
Elizabeth Izzo, Sun Community News - September 12, 2017

Clinton County hears about para-transit again
Joe LoTemplio, Press-Republican - September 13, 2017

If you care about this issue, please contact your Clinton County Legislator before September 27. They especially need to know if this plan would adversely affect your mobility and access to healthcare, employment, and everyday commerce within the county.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Action Alert: Call Now to Oppose Graham-Cassidy Repeal Proposal!

Action Alert in bold white capital letters on a dark red background
Take action today and over the next few days to stop the Graham-Cassidy repeal proposal from gaining any more traction in the Senate!

This effort will derail any bi-partisan action on cost sharing reductions and could lead to the decimation of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Republicans have only two weeks before their ability to pass an ACA repeal with 51 votes expires on September 30. Reports are they are getting close to the needed number of votes- even though the public is more opposed to ACA repeal than ever. This vote has moved up on the list of Republican priorities and must move up on ours!

We need everyone to call offices asking Members to reject Graham-Cassidy and remind them that it still does all the bad things that the other repeal bills did:

• Ends Medicaid As We Know It

• Punishes people with Pre-Existing Conditions

• Eliminates subsidies that help moderate income people afford coverage forcing millions into the ranks of the uninsured.

ACTION: Call this number which will connect you to a random key Senator: 866-426-2631

Talking Points

Graham-Cassidy is a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA. It would cause virtually all of the same devastating impacts  as previous repeal bills already rejected by the Senate, such as:

• cutting health coverage and raising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for millions

• slashing Medicaid, converting the traditional Medicaid program to a per capita cap, and ending the expansion

• allowing states to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions

The country has moved on from repeal. They want and expect Republicans and Democrats to work together to stabilize the health insurance marketplaces, protect children's health, and take steps to help people afford the coverage they need.

These bipartisan efforts are where Congress should be placing its focus, not on last-ditch attempts to resurrect ACA repeal measures the Senate has already rejected.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Radio Reading Service Closes September 30, 2017

The North Country Center for Independence has administered the Radio Reading Service for nearly two decades, and we are so grateful for the amazing volunteers that have made this program so strong and vital for so many years. Times are changing though and technology has changed the way blind and visually impaired people access print material. There are so many options out there that didn’t exist when the program first started. NCCI’s funding priorities are also changing, and as a result of these changes, we have decided to close down the Radio Reading Service effective September 30th, 2017.
 
This was a difficult decision for us, it was not made lightly. Two of NCCI’s board members are long time volunteers of the program, and three NCCI staff are blind or visually impaired, so we’ve always been big supporters of the Service. NCCI staff will provide assistance to any member of the community that needs help accessing local content that was previously available through the Radio Reading Service. We want to thank the listeners, our volunteers, and various funders, including the United Way, for the decades of support for this program.
 
Please contact us at 518-563-9058 for assistance of any kind. The Radio Reading Service will continue to run through September 30th, 2017.