Friday, December 8, 2017

Action Alert: Call In Day on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017

ACTION ALERT in bold white letters on a dark red background

This Action Alert is based on information from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the Center for Public Representation ...

Join people with disabilities, our families, and advocates around the country on Monday, December 11th, for a national call-in day to oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).
The Senate and House have each passed versions of the TCJA and the bill is in a conference committee to come up with the final bill. THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE TO MAKE OUR OPPOSITION HEARD TO THIS #TaxOnDisability
This bill will hurt people with disabilities.
* It dramatically cuts the revenue needed to fund Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, housing, and other services that benefit people with disabilities.

* The over $1 trillion cut in revenue is the “pay for” for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

* Members of Congress who support this bill have already said that they next plan to make cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and other programs on which people with disabilities rely to address the increased deficit caused by this bill.

* The bills themselves have provisions that directly hurt people with disabilities. It eliminates tax deductions and credits that help people with disabilities pay for high medical expenses, work, access housing, and get medication.

* It repeals the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that everyone have health insurance. This will cause premiums for people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions to increase, leaving heath insurance unaffordable for millions. 
Help us send a loud and clear message that this legislation is unacceptable!

After you call: email, write, or tweet!
You can RSVP and invite friends using the Facebook event.
You can find a list of Congress members to contact here.
Note that Representative Elise Stefanik is on this list. She voted "No" on the original House bill, and needs to hear again the issues with the bill now, especially how it would affect people with disabilities.
Elise Stefanik @RepStefanik
DC: (202) 225-4611 
Glens Falls (518) 743-0964 
Plattsburgh (518) 561-2324 
Watertown (315) 782-3150
Additional Resources

Fact Sheet: How to Call Your Elected Officials (Autistic Self Advocacy Network)
Event Sponsors

American Association of People with Disabilities
Autism Society
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Center for Public Representation
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Justice in Aging
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Health Law Program

Monday, December 4, 2017

Action Alert: Last Chance to Stop the Dangerous Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

ACTION ALERT in white bold letters over a dark red background
Update on the original Action Alert below, from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:

As we emailed over the weekend, it is critical that we keep up the advocacy against the tax bill with the House. The report that we got from the Hill this morning is that targets in the House were pounded with opposition to the bill over the weekend.  Keep it up! Re timing of the bill, we know that a vote in the House is scheduled for 6 pm today.  While the intel we are getting is that the vote is likely going to be to set up a conference, it still is possible that the House could just vote to accept the Senate bill.  And the timing of a conference is complicated by the other work that Congress needs to do this week to keep the government open.  We'll be sending another update late today.

In case it is helpful to your advocacy, here is the CCD fact sheet on the worst impacts of the tax bill on people with disabilities; here is a link to call, email, and with talking points; and here is a recent alert from AAPD with lots of resources.

CCD Fiscal Policy Task Force

==========

This Action Alert comes from the American Association of People with Disabilities:

Early Saturday morning (around 2am Eastern Time), the Senate passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This vote in the middle of the night left little to no time for other Members of Congress and the general public to review the content of the bill. Since the House of Representatives passed their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) in mid-November, the House and Senate must now reconcile their versions of the bill. This is expected to happen in Conference Committee starting today. It is also possible that the House will pass the Senate’s version of the bill as is.

Either way, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is very close to reaching President Trump’s desk and becoming law. NOW is the time to call your Representative and tell them to OPPOSE this dangerous bill!

The Senate tax bill is extremely dangerous to the well-being of people with disabilities.
  • Tax cuts open the door for cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, and other services that benefit people with disabilities. While neither the House nor Senate tax bill includes direct cuts to these services, cuts are expected to follow to offset the $1.5 trillion added to the deficit due to providing large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Medicaid and other disability services were the target of intense cuts over the summer through the various Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bills proposed in the House and Senate. There is no doubt that these same services remain on the chopping block to help pay for the proposed tax cuts.
  • The Senate bill eliminates the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate. The individual mandate helps make health insurance affordable. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 13 million people would lose access to affordable coverage by 2027 if the individual mandate were eliminated. Furthermore, insurance premiums would rise by 10%, which amounts to an increase of hundreds of dollars per year for nearly 7 million middle-income Americans and by over $1,000 per year for seniors, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
  • The Senate bill benefits the wealthiest Americans while the poorest would be worse off. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which found that Americans earning less than $100,000 a year would, ultimately, not benefit from the proposed tax cuts. According to a Washington Post analysis of the CBO report, “By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations.”
The House bill is also damaging as it proposes to eliminate several tax deductions and credits that benefit people with disabilities. These include:
  • The Medical Expense Deduction: This tax deduction allows people to deduct large, unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that exceed 10% of their income. Approximately 8.8 million people utilize this deduction, 70% of which have an income at $70,000 or lower. Most filings are around $10,000 by people with high healthcare costs, which largely includes people with disabilities, chronic health conditions, and other medical conditions. People are allowed to deduct expenses for a variety of expenses including treatments, surgeries, medications, and medical travel.
  • The Disabled Access Credit and Barrier Removal Tax Deduction: Businesses that accommodate people with disabilities may qualify for tax credits and deductions including the Disabled Access Credit and the Barrier Removal Tax Deduction. This credit and deduction incentivizes small businesses to make their businesses accessible for disabled people. Small businesses can claim a 50% credit per year for expenditures between $250 and $10,250 that increase access and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • The Work Opportunity Tax Credit: This federal tax credit is available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups (including disabled people who receive services from Vocational Rehabilitation, SSI recipients, returning citizens, veterans, and long-term unemployment compensation recipients) who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. The current tax credit for hiring a person with a disability can be as high as $2,400 for a business.
The final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could contain any of these harmful provisions from the Senate and House bills.

While neither tax bill includes direct cuts to Medicaid or other disability services, these cuts are expected to follow to offset the roughly $1.5 trillion added to the deficit due to providing large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Medicaid and other disability services were the target of intense cuts over the summer through the various Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bills proposed in the House and Senate. There is no doubt that these same services remain on the chopping block to help pay for the proposed tax cuts.

Take Action

Contact your Representative and tell them to oppose this bill!

What to say:

  • Please vote NO on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • This tax bill will hurt people with disabilities and their families.
  • Tax reform should not be rushed. People should have time to understand the legislation and how they will be affected.
  • Services that benefit people with disabilities and low-income Americans – such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income – are in danger of losing funding to help pay for these proposed tax cuts.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate will reduce access and increase costs for people with disabilities and all Americans.

Call your Representative


Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) and ask to be connected to your Representative.

Email your Representative


Contacting Congress
 provides unique links to email your Representative directly.

Tweet your Representative


Twitter has become a powerful tool to communicate with elected officials directly. Find your Congress Members on Twitter and tell them to oppose these bills.

Sample Tweets to Fights Against Disability Attacks in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (developed by Access Living)

  • 8.8 million households claimed medical deductions in 2015. Eliminating deduction vital to people with high medical costs is a #TaxOnDisability.
  • Taking away medical deductions from seniors with greater medical needs, people with disabilities, and families with disabled kids is a #TaxOnDisability.
  • Average deduction claimed is close to $10K; cost of long-term care could be $100K or more. Keep deduction, no to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA eliminates incentive for businesses to hire people with disabilities, including older Americans with disabilities. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • Current tax credit for hiring a person with a disability can be as high as $2,400; ending the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a #TaxOnDisability
  • Eliminating orphan drug tax credit is a #TaxOnDisability. Older Americans and people with disabilities are more likely to have a rare disease or condition #TCJA
  • Eliminating small business tax credit for increasing accessibility to employees with disabilities, older workers, and customers is a #TaxOnDisability
  • The #TCJA may result in older Americans and individuals with disabilities paying more taxes on Social Security benefits.
  • If seniors and individuals with disabilities can’t deduct medical expenses, many may need to use tax-deferred accounts. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA could kill investments in underserved communities that provide people with disabilities a place to live. No to #TaxOnDisability
  • Eliminating deduction of state/local income, sales taxes from federal taxable income would squeeze state budgets No to #TaxOnDisability
  • #TCJA could force massive cuts that block grant #Medicaid and damage state programs for people with disabilities. No to #TaxOnDisability
     
  • Tax Bill Disability Tweets – Center for Public Representation

Additional Resources

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday logo, including a heart-shaped letter VTuesday, November 28th is GivingTuesday. It’s a growing annual tradition that follows Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday is dedicated to making online charitable donations.

This is a great time to give to NCCI’s Homecoming Fund, which helps people with disabilities make a smooth transition from hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions into their own homes. Click the link below to see more details and contribute to the fund through GoFundMe:

Click here to give to NCCI’s Homecoming Fund


By the way, it helps a lot if you can share your donation through your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  It’s easy to do right from the GoFundMe page.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Action Alert: Fully Fund Access To Home

ACTION ALERT in large white capital letters on a dark red background

Call Governor Cuomo today to ensure $10 million in funding for Access to Home
is included in the New York State budget!

Inaccessible housing is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking to live in the community. Unfortunately, our existing home modification program, Access To Home, has been severely underfunded at a mere $1 million for the past several years. This has left many parts of the state unserved, and has resulted in years long waiting lists. The Governor has also vetoed the Visitability Tax Credit three times, which would have provided a tax credit to help people afford to retrofit their homes. The Governor needs to hear from the disability community that he can't keep ignoring the need for home modifications!

Further, as the State invests in programs such as Open Doors and the Olmstead Housing subsidy, which are designed to help people leave institutions or prevent unwanted and unnecessary institutionalization, it needs to provide funding for home modifications to enhance these efforts.

NYAIL is urging Governor Cuomo to include $10 million in funding for Access To Home, to help homeowners and renters alike get the home modifications they need to live in the community.

All centers hear from people who need accessible housing. We need you to identify those people and work with them to contact Governor Cuomo and their local legislators.

ACTION:


Background:

Access to Home is an important program administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) that provides funding for home modifications to allow people with disabilities and older New Yorkers to stay in their homes and out of costly institutions. For many people, the addition of a ramp to their front door makes the difference between being able to leave the house and being homebound. The Independent Living community advocated vigorously for the State to create Access to Home to help alleviate the housing crisis for people with disabilities in New York by assisting low and middle-income individuals and families to make home modifications. Yet, Access to Home was cut by 75% several years ago under this administration. Ever since, Access to Home has been funded at a mere $1 million statewide, leaving many parts of the state without the program and resulting in years long waiting lists. While the State did allocate $19.6 million over three years to the program in the 2015-16 SFY from the J.P. Morgan settlement funds, those funds were limited to veterans with disabilities. This meant that the vast majority of low income families who needed home modifications to remain at home, couldn't access them, despite the increase in funding to a similar program.


Further, in his most recent veto message for the Visitability Tax Credit bill, Governor Cuomo cites Access To Home as the way the state supports people who need home modifications. However, unless you are a veteran, you likely can't get assistance in a timely manner from Access To Home. Access to Home requires significantly more funding to come close to meeting the need of people in this state to modify their home to make them accessible.

This Action Alert is issued by the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NCCI on YouTube

Have you visited NCCI's YouTube Channel?

So far, we have 6 videos posted about NCCI, and a separate list of 28 disability-related videos by others that are worth a look. Note that whenever possible, the videos we produce about NCCI include closed captions if you need them.

Click here to visit NCCI's YouTube Channel, or view our original videos below:

North Country Center for Independence Introduction




GoFundMe Thank You




#CuomoFails Protest: Albany, New York




CDPAP Presentation




Upcoming Changes in Clinton County Transportation




NCCI Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NCCI Social Media Review

​It has been almost a year since we started using social media more steadily to communicate with the North Country disability community, and with the broader network of disability rights organizations around the country. Now is probably a good time for an update on what we are doing and what you'll find in NCCI's social media. Click the links to check out these sites:


A visit to NCCI's website is probably the simplest way to connect with our other social media networks. From here you can easily get to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. The website itself also provides a good overview of NCCI's mission, services, staff, board of directors, and advocacy activities. There's also an online Calendar, and of course the NCCI Blog, which presents new information and action alerts at least once a week. Start here, and make the website a "Favorite" so it's easy to come back!

We add new posts daily, usually two disability-related articles or NCCI news items, plus some selected shares from other related Facebook pages. Our content is curated for quality and focus over quantity. You may not enjoy or agree with every item posted, but you can trust that it has been selected with care, for specific reasons related to disability issues and NCCI’s mission.

Twitter
 
We "tweet" the same items we post on Facebook, and also retweet selected items from other Twitter users. As with Facebook, content is carefully selected, and free of unrelated junk. Twitter is an especially active place for disability conversations. There is a growing number of unique disability groups and discussions going on exclusively on Twitter. Most disability organizations and disability rights leaders and thinkers use Twitter every day to explore disability issues. Twitter is also widely used by elected officials, (with varying quality and effectiveness of course), and by journalists. This makes Twitter a powerful meeting place where disability movements and organizations can raise our issues to the attention of traditional media and politicians.

There’s not much to look at yet, but we are making an effort to share more photos of NCCI activities. In the near future, we might also explore ways for the local disability community to share their own photos.

We have an NCCI introductory video posted, and a playlist of disability-related videos from other sources. We’ll soon be posting more videos profiling NCCI staff and programs.

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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

September is Fall Accessibility Month!

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

​Accessibility is a little like the weather. Everyone complains about it, at least in the disability community, but even we rarely do anything about it.

Do you see places around the North Country that aren't as accessible as they should be for people with disabilities? Would you like to do something useful to address the problem?

If you have a smartphone and / or access to a computer with an internet connection, we invite you to join our special effort this month to document the accessibility features of businesses in North Country ... starting with restaurants in the Plattsburgh area.

The first step is to download the AbleRoad app, or visit the AbleRoad website, and set up a free account. This will enable you to look up any business in the area and enter a star rating of its accessibility in regard to parking, approach and entry, counters and tables, restrooms, etc. These ratings will then be viewable by people with disabilities who want to know which businesses are accessible, which are not, and which have some accessible features but also some barriers.

For another overview of AbleRoad, watch this video:



Once you register with AbleRoad, call, email, or visit NCCI and we will give you a list of 5 restaurants to visit If you are ready to help, we will give you a list of 5 restaurants to visit. After you rate each place's accessibility using AbleRoad, let us know you are finished, so we can keep track of our progress. We can also give you another list of 5 restaurants if you want to keep going. And of course, you can also give accessibility ratings of any businesses you vist in your everyday. Each business rated in AbleRoad gives us a clearer picture of what's accessible and what isn't in the North Country.

To get started:

Call us at 518-563-9058
Or visit NCCI at 80 Sharron Avenue in Plattsburgh

Join us, and let's see how much we can get done in September!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Paratransit Hearings on September 13th, 2017

ACTION ALERT in bold white letters on a dark red background

The Clinton County Planning Department sent out the following press release, announcing two hearings on September 13, 2017, about their plan to eliminate paratransit and replace it with route deviation ...

***

P R E S S   R E L E A S E
Clinton County Public Transit
8/25/2017

The Clinton County Legislature will be conducting two Public Hearings on Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 in the Clinton County Legislative Chambers at 137 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901; one Public Hearing will be at 11:00 am and the other public hearing will be at 7:00 pm. Both Public Hearings are for the purpose of considering the replacement of Clinton County Public Transit (CCPT) paratransit service with deviation of the regular CCPT routes. 

A draft plan for the deviation service design can be viewed online at www.clintoncountypublictransit.com or a hardcopy can be requested by contacting the Clinton County Planning Department at 518-565-4713.

Clinton County does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or the provision of services.  In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, special accommodations, within reason and upon request at least forty-eight hours in advance of the meeting, will be provided to persons with disabilities.  Please contact James Bosley, Planning Technician, at 518-565-4713 or by email at James.Bosley@clintoncountygov.com to request a special accommodation for either hearing.

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This is a map showing the areas affected by the proposed change:
We strongly urge people with disabilities who use paratrnaist services to attend one of these public meetings and describe how the proposed changes would affect you. You can also contact us here at NCCI and tell us how the proposed change would affect you and your access to reliable, accessible public transportation. You can call us at 518-563-9058.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Visit Our Social Media Spaces!

Painted style landscape of Lake Champlain with social media icons below, and text: North Country Center for Independence "Empowering people with disabilities"

As summer winds down and things are relatively quiet in terms of advocacy, this seems like a good time to remind everyone of the various ways you can connect with NCCI on the internet. Just click the links to visit, and be sure to "Like", "Follow," and "Share" these sites with other people who may be interested!

Home page icon
Website

All about NCCI's mission and philosophy, services, programs, advocacy, news, staff, and board. Also visit an online events calendar, links to NCCI's social media, and a regularly updated blog with editorials and action alerts.

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Email Newsletter

Weekly information and updates on NCCI activities and disability issues, sent to a master list of email addresses. If you're not getting them already, click here to subscribe.

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Facebook

Articles on disability issues and culture, shared daily, along with announcements of scheduled local events related to NCCI and disability matters.

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Twitter

Short messages and links on disability issues and culture, shared daily. Follow us to get our tweets on your feed, and participate in disability conversations and scheduled chats.

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Instagram

Photos and video of NCCI events and local disability-related activities. There are only a handful of photos up now, but expect more in the coming months.

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YouTube

Original videos on NCCI, and shared videos from other sources on disability-related topics. We are working on some individual videos now that we hope to post soon.

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GoFundMe

Online fundraising for specific NCCI projects benefitting people with disabilities in our area. Our current fundraiser is for the NCCI Homecoming Fund.

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.