Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlottesville

Within a couple of days of the shocking and violent march of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, many disability organizations issued statements about it. For example:

NCIL Statement on the White Supremacist Violence in Charlottesville

AAPD Statement Condemning the Violence and White Supremacy of the “Unite the Right” Rally

ADAPT’s statement condemning racist violence in Charlottesville, VA

We at NCCI share and echo these sentiments.

For these organizations, their members and supporters, condemning the events in Charlottesville in very blunt, specific terms was an obvious thing to do. However, it may not be obvious to every disabled person or disability activist why this is so.

Here, then, are three reasons why a disability organization would speak out on an event like what happened in Charlottesville:

1. Disability intersects with other identities, communities, and issues. Lots of disabled people are also Black, Jewish, LGBTQ, and/or other identities that were explicitly targeted by the hateful rhetoric and actions of the alt-right, neo-Nazi, and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville. Even if disabled people weren't explicitly targeted as disabled people, members of our community certainly were. The disability community is uniquely diverse by definition, and we should all be ready to stick up for all of our brothers and sisters, even if some of us don't feel immediately, personally discriminated against or attacked.

2. Historically, far-right ideologies have NOT been friendly to people with disabilities. Actually, that is an understatement. To cite just one example, disabled people were systematically murdered by state doctors in Nazi Germany, specifically because of how disability was regarded in Nazi ideology. More broadly, ideology of any kind based on the superiority and dominance of one type of person over others almost never bodes well for disabled people, in any historical era. We don't have to have been explicitly named by the tiki-torch carrying racists in Charlottesville to feel legitimately threatened as people with disabilities.

3. Disabled people, and people who care about disability issues, aspire to be fully participating citizens who take full responsibility for what happens in our society. This is happening in our society. Those of us in the disability community also resolve to speak for ourselves, and not simply rely on the good will of others to "take care of us." Again, this means taking responsibility for addressing emerging threats, and not waiting for others to do it for us.

These facts are more than enough to justify and require us to speak out.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Action Alert: Urge Your Member of Congress to Co-Sponsor the TIME Act!

ACTION ALERT in white bold letters on a dark red background

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

H.R. 1377, the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment, or TIME Act, would phase out Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. This would also force vocational rehabilitation agencies across the country to find meaningful placements for people with disabilities in which their abilities could be maximized and in which they could be successful and valued.

The TIME Act currently has no co-sponsors from New York. Let's get the New York delegation signed on to this important bill!

Action

Email your Representative from Congress and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1377.

The following Representatives from NY signed on as co-sponsors last year, but have not yet signed onto the TIME Act, H.R. 1377 this year. Let's be sure to target these Representatives to sign on!

Rep. Louise Slaughter
Rep. Nita Lowey
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
Rep. Peter King
Rep. Kathleen Rice
Rep. Eliot Engel
Rep. Nydia Velazquez
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
Rep. Paul Tonko

Click here to take action now!

Background

Current Federal law allows the Secretary of Labor to grant special wage certificates to entities that provide employment to workers with disabilities, allowing such entities to pay their disabled workers at rates that are lower than the Federal minimum wage. The practice of paying workers with disabilities less than the Federal minimum wage dates back to the 1930s, when there were virtually no employment opportunities for disabled workers in the mainstream workforce. Today, advancements in vocational rehabilitation, technology, and training provide disabled workers with greater opportunities than in the past, and the number of such workers in the national workforce has dramatically increased. In the 75 years since this became law, studies have shown that fewer than 5% of over 400,000 workers with disabilities ever transition out of segregated, subminimum-wage, sheltered workshop settings to integrated, competitive employment. This outdated model does not provide workers with disabilities with useful, marketable skills to obtain competitive, integrated employment in their communities.

NCCI Twitter Recap - July, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Update and Action Alert On The Health Care Debate

Action Alert in bold white letters on a dark red background

The following message was sent by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Grassroots Team:

Medicaid advocates,

There’s a lot going on right now, but we’re going to try and explain some of it--as you may have heard, the Senate held some votes today.

The Senate began by voting to start debate on healthcare bills this afternoon. That vote passed, with both Senators Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska voting no. The Senate also voted on a slightly revised version of BCRA, with the horrible per capita caps on Medicaid. Due to procedural rules, the Senate had get 60 votes and did not. (Both Senators Portman and Capito voted for BCRA--they need to hear about how harmful this vote would be for their constituents with disabilities.) We anticipate that they will vote tomorrow on full repeal; this vote will not be the final vote. Please know this voting process will continue over the next several days with many different votes.

The process they're using moves fast—but currently, we think the Senate will be taking a FINAL vote THURSDAY OR FRIDAY. We do not know what that will be. It doesn’t matter. We’ll let you know when we know--until then you will hear a lot about other votes, but you should focus on advocating as hard as you can until this final vote.

The various bills have morphed and mutated multiple times over the course of the last few weeks, but one thing has stayed the same: any of these bills will absolutely destroy our healthcare system, and with it, the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities. Here’s a quick recap of what all of these bills do:

No matter which version they vote on, millions of people will lose their health insurance.
No matter which version they vote on, Medicaid will be cut by billions of dollars.
No matter which version they vote on, millions of people with disabilities will have a harder time getting the health care and services we need.

If you’re feeling exhausted, scared, or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. This fight has been hard on us because of how important it is - and that’s exactly why we can’t give up now. These last days are critical. Here’s how we can win:

Keep calling:
Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO.
Top Targets: Senators Capito (WV), Corker (TN), Heller (NV), Portman (OH), Graham (SC), Moran (KS), McCain (AZ)
All Other Republican Senators
Call and thank Senators Collins and Murkowski and ask them to stay strong.
If you have already called, keep calling.
If you have trouble with phone conversations, evenings are a great chance to call and leave a voicemail while offices are closed.
If you use AAC, you can call in using your AAC device, or get a friend to read your message into the phone. After you call your Senators’ DC office, try their state offices. You can use our script:

My name is [your full name]. I’m a constituent of Senator [Name], and I live in [your town] and my zipcode is [zipcode]. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote NO on any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid. If any of the bills being discussed as part of the budget process are passed, millions of Americans will lose health insurance. These bills take away protections that people with disabilities depend on, drastically cut Medicaid, and will return us to the bad old days when people with disabilities like [me/ my family member/ my friends] were uninsurable. We can’t go back. Please vote AGAINST repealing any form of caps or cuts to Medicaid. It’s time for Congress to scrap repeal, leave Medicaid alone, and work together to improve the ACA. We’re counting on you to do the right thing.

Thank Senators Murkowski and Collins. Normally, we tell you not to contact senators from other states. But regardless of where you live right now, please thank Senators Collins and Murkowski through email, letters, posting on social media, etc. Just a “Thanks from us and from the entire disability community for your support for people with disabilities. Please stay strong and reject any bill that hurts Medicaid” is more than enough. They will be feeling the pressure from others and we need to to make sure they hear from the disability community to stay strong.

Send emails and faxes. After you call, email your Senators and say the same thing. Then, send them a fax with that same message.

Go to your Senators’ local offices and tell their staff what you think. To find your Senators’ local offices, visit contactingcongress.org. Under the contact information for each Senator, there is a list of their local offices. This is one of the most effective ways to get your point across to an elected official.

You may have heard or will hear people saying that a bill is dead or that a vote went well. But we’ve heard that before - people said the same thing about the House bill and we are now in the Senate. So don’t let down your guard - the Medicaid program remains at risk and harmful caps and cuts could very easily pass. We are the only thing standing in the way of these horrible changes. In the next few days, we have to call, email, show up, and advocate like our lives depend on it - because for many of us, they do.

In solidarity,

~The CCD Grassroots Team

Two Links

Illustration of silver links in a chain, with Useful Links caption

Health care is the big story this week, but if you'd like a break from all that ... sort of ... here are a couple of links to very different disability-related things on the internet:

NCIL Conference Keynote by Judy Heumann
Streamed on Judy Heumann's Facebook Page - July 24, 2017

The National Council on Independent Living Annual Conference is happening this week in Washington, DC. Here's video of Monday's keynote address, by Judy Heumann, who is one of the founders of the Independent Living movement, which includes hundreds of independent centers like NCCI nationwide. Actually, as you will hear in Heumann's speech, independent living is world-wide now. Whether you've been involved in independent living for a long time, or are new to it, it's great to hear from one of the true originals.

ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together
Sam Dylan Finch, Let's Queer Things Up! - July 22, 2017

This article could almost be an entire independent living skills course by itself. Although targeted to people with ADHD, and published on an LGBTQ website, it's content is entirely applicable to people with all kinds of disabilities who may be struggling to bring some organization and efficient work habits to their lives. It's well-written, too, so it's a pleasure to read.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

National Disability Voter Registration Week: July 17-21

Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power! RevUp - Make the disability vote count
In the 2016 election, over 16% of eligible voters were people with disabilities. If you add non-disabled people living in the same households of people with disabilities ... spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters ... the potential "disability vote" was as much as 25% of all eligible voters.* That is potentially a large and influential voting bloc.

Are you registered to vote? If not, next week is a great time to get that done.

A group of national disability organizations is once again sponsoring National Disability Voter Registration Week, July 17-21, 2017. You can register to vote any time, but during this week we will pay special attention to voter registration in the disability community. Registrations done through participating organization will be tallied, so we have will have a good sense of how many people with disabilities and family members have registered during the week.

Here's what to do:

1. If aren't sure whether you are registered, find out by clicking the link below and typing in your name and address.

Am I Registered To Vote?

2. If you are eligible but not registered, click the link below to complete your registration online.

Online Voter Registration

3. If you prefer, you can fill out a paper registration at NCCI, any weekday from 8 AM to 4 PM.

By the way, even though it probably seems like we just had an election, check out the dates for upcoming elections:

Election Day 2017 - November 7, 2017
2018 Mid-Term Elections - November 6, 2018
2020 General Elections - November 3, 2020

* Source: "Projecting the Number of Eligible Voters with Disabilities in the November 2016 Elections", Doug Kruse & Lisa Schur, Rutgers University

Action Alert: Call your member of Congress today and urge them to vote NO on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)

ACTION ALERT in bold white letters on a dark red background

This Action Alert comes from the New York Association on Independent Living, (NYAIL) ...

The BCRA would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and threaten the lives and liberty of people with disabilities by making devastating cuts to Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the BCRA would cut Medicaid by $772 billion and that 15 million people will lose Medicaid coverage over the next 10 years.

The BCRA would end Medicaid's over 50 year history of providing coverage to all who are eligible, and instead impose per capita caps. This means states will only receive set reimbursement rates, and if state spending exceeds that formula, the financial burden falls to the states. New York State has calculated that if BCRA passes, New York would need to come up with an additional $7 billion over the next four years in order to maintain Medicaid expansion coverage and offset per capita cuts. This would mean that New York would need to decide whether to limit the amount of services they provide, limit the number of people they cover, or some combination of both. Either way, the services we rely on to go to school, work, and live in our communities are at grave risk!

If the Senate passes the BCRA, the bill will then go back to the House of Representatives.

ACTION:

1.   Call your members of Congress TODAY at 844-898-1199 and tell them to say "no" to the Better Care Reconciliation Act and to end efforts to take away our health care. You will be routed to the appropriate representative.

2.   Share your story about how Medicaid or the ACA has affected your life to help advocates to educate policymakers about why this bill is bad news for Americans.