DRP Opposes the U.S. Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Opposes the United States Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act

As a leader in the advancement of the civil rights of people with disabilities for forty years (40), Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) is opposed to the Better Care Reconciliation Act introduced today by the United States Senate (Senate).  We are deeply concerned about the direction Congress is headed and the impact this legislation will have on rights, independence, and health of individuals with disabilities.  Today, on the eighteenth anniversary of the historic Olmstead Supreme Court decision that ensured that individuals with disabilities must receive services in the most integrated setting, the United States Senate has proposed a bill that will force people with disabilities to lose access to health care and community based supports.  This bill decimates the promise of Olmstead that allows people with disabilities to participate and thrive in their communities.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act ensures that people with disabilities will lose access to critical health and mental health care.  The decision to allow states to either Block Grant or create a Per-Capita payment will result in the program being eligibility based instead of an entitlement.  Individuals will only get services if funding is available, and if there is not enough funding then individuals will be placed on a waiting list.  Waiting lists for services will grow exponentially and individuals with disabilities could be placed in life threatening situations.  This bill will result in even less funding available over time than what the House bill proposed.

In addition, there is still a requirement to provide institutional based care.  This bill will all but ensure that Pennsylvania will not have enough funding available for Home and Community Based services and supports in any way that allows people to meaningfully participate in their communities or work.  Optional services such as employment, person driven services and home and community based long-term supports would not be required to be provided by the state.  People with disabilities will have no guarantee that any home and community based services will be available ten years from now.

We call on the Senators in Pennsylvania to stand up for the promise of Olmstead and replace this bill with legislation that supports the needs of people with disabilities by retaining the current Medicaid financing system.

For more information about the rights of people with disabilities visit www.disabilityrightspa.org.


Posted Via Information provided by Disability Rights Pennsylvania.


CMS Extends Timeline to Complete HCBS Transition Work

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Informational Bulletin

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released an informational bulletin noting that states will have an additional three years (until 2022) to comply with the home and community-based settings rule.

The informational bulletin notes that “…states should continue progress in assessing existing operations and identifying milestones for compliance that result in final Statewide Transition Plan approval by March 17, 2019. However, in light of the difficult and complex nature of this task, we will extend the transition period for states to demonstrate compliance with the home and community based settings criteria until March 17, 2022 for settings in which a transition period applies. We anticipate that this additional three years will be helpful to states to ensure compliance activities are collaborative, transparent and timely.”  You may read more at https://www.medicaid.gov/federal-policy-guidance/downloads/cib050917.pdf.


What this means for Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs

Compliance with the rule and the requirements of the transition plan have not changed. The CMS bulletin however provides three additional years to fully meet the settings requirements.


  • The service definitions in the proposed ODP Consolidated and P/FDS waivers will remain the same. We will consider extending the dates for compliance with Community Participation Support requirements and limiting facility based services to a maximum of 150 participants at any one time.


  • Waiver transition plans will be revised to initiate provider self-assessments for settings compliance to the spring of 2018 (originally scheduled for the fall of 2017).


  • Waiver transition plans will be revised to build in additional time for providers that are found to be out-of-compliance so they can come into compliance by March 17, 2022.


For more information about the Community HealthChoices Waiver Transitions; You can read our original post here.

A Time to Learn Our History

In conjunction with National DISABILITY Pride Day,

Speaking For Ourselves

is proud to present

A Time to Learn Our History

…what was, who we are currently

& who we will be in the future!

at the National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

June 17, 2017
11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Come see our colorful and informative History Panels about Speaking For Ourselves Hear our stories! See our short & entertaining videos!

*Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Coalition Honoring People with Disabilities in Pennsylvania

Community HealthChoices (CHC) Waiver Transitions – DRP

Community HealthChoices (CHC) is a managed care program that will better coordinate the way participants receive their physical health services and long-term services and supports (LTSS) so that Pennsylvania can serve more people in their homes and their communities. CHC will serve Medicaid participants 21 years of age or older who also receive Medicare, need LTSS in their home or community, or are in nursing facilities. Today, there are five waivers in which participants receive LTSS. In the future there will be two ways.


CHC: will serve participants currently in the Aging, Attendant Care, Independence, and COMMCARE waivers. OBRA participants who are nursing facility clinically eligible will also move to CHC.

OBRA Waiver: will continue to serve participants 18 years of age and older who have a severe developmental disability requiring the level of care provided in an intermediate care facility/other related conditions (often referred to as ICF/ORC).

As CHC is phased in, there will be several steps taken to assure the individuals continue to receive services. The attached document shows the timeline of when these steps will occur.



What will happen?

·         Since CHC only serves participants 21 years of age and older, participants in the Attendant Care and Independence waivers who are between 18 to 20 years of age will be enrolled in the OBRA Waiver to receive LTSS services.

·         The OBRA Waiver will provide the same services available in Attendant Care and Independence waivers.  

·         It is DHS’ priority to ensure that participants’ services are not impacted in any way.


When will this happen?   

Southwest Zone: August 2017 to October 2017

Southeast Zone:  February 2018 to May 2018

Remaining Zones:  August 2018 to October 2018



What will happen?

·         The COMMCARE Waiver will end December 31, 2017. Any new applicants who would have been eligible for the COMMCARE Waiver after September 1, 2017, will be eligible for and enrolled in the Independence Waiver.

·         This means that participants who are receiving services in the COMMCARE Waiver who do not live in the Southwest Zone will be enrolled in the Independence Waiver before December 31, 2017. 

·         It is DHS’ priority to ensure that participants’ services are not impacted in any way.


When will this happen?   

COMMCARE Waiver participants residing outside of the Southwest Zone will be enrolled in the Independence Waiver by their service coordinators between July 2017 and November 2017.   

COMMCARE participants in the Southwest Zone will transition to CHC on January 1, 2018.



What will happen?

·         OBRA Waiver participants whose level of care determination was completed before November 18, 2016, will get an assessment to determine their eligibility for CHC. Those determined ineligible for CHC will remain in OBRA.

·         DHS is working with the Area Agencies on Aging, service coordinators, and providers to ensure assessments are completed in a timely manner. Participants will be contacted by their Area Agency on Aging to schedule a time for the assessor to meet with them to go through the assessment process. 


When will this happen?      

Southwest Zone: May 2017 to August 2017

Southeast Zone: October 2017 to February 2018

Remaining Zones: April 2018 to August 2018


*There are no additional transitions for Aging Waiver participants. Aging Waiver participants will simply transition to CHC when CHC begins in their zones.

ASAN – #ProtectOurCare

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been asking you to get involved in our fight to defend health care. Your advocacy has been amazing – you’ve called your Members of Congress, attended town halls, and taken to social media to stand up for your right to access health care. Now, we’re pleased to announce the release of a few new tools to help you contact your Members of Congress by mail.

Visit our new Postcard Center for templates and talking points that you can use to ask your Members of Congress to #ProtectOurCare. If you need more information about how to format or address your letter or postcard, check out our factsheet on writing to elected officials. Once you’ve written your message, you can make your voice go farther by spreading the word on social media – snap a picture with your postcard or letter and share it using the hashtag #ProtectOurCare.

Remember, your Members of Congress work for you. You can make a difference by letting them know how health care policy impacts your life, and reminding them that you are watching what they do next. Make sure Congress gets the message – Nothing About Us Without Us!

WIPA Program Advisory Meeting Announcement

Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA)
Program Advisory Meeting Announcement

If you receive SSI/SSDI or support individuals who receive SSI/SSDI in employment, then we want to hear from you.

Come and learn about WIPA services and other community employment resources that are available. Let’s talk about how we can work together to help people receiving Social Security benefits reach their employment goals.

Come out and join us in helping people with disabilities fulfill their work goals. When all people work, everyone benefits!

WHEN: Thursday, June 8, 2017 12-3pm

WHERE: Northampton County Human Services, 2801 Emrick Blvd, Bethlehem, PA 18020

PLEASE RSVP by calling or texting (215) 980-7730 or e-mail us at tvirden@disabilityrightspa.org by June 1, 2017. If you need any environmental or language accommodations, let us know by May 25, 2017

Envisioning the Future: Allies in Self-Advocacy

The Future of Self-Advocacy

The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) is the federal agency that supports the developmental disabilities network. The network includes Developmental Disabilities Councils (DD Councils), University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), and Protection and Advocacy systems (P&As). AIDD held nine regional summits in 2011 and 2012.

The goals of the summits were to:

  1. Find out what is happening in the states on self-advocacy
  2. Make state team plans to strengthen self-advocacy
  3. Make national recommendations to strengthen self-advocacy

This is a great piece from aucdnetwork outlining the goals and path of the self-advocacy civil rights movement. This video is being featured because SAU1 attended the Columbus summit and one of our board members Carolyn Morgan is featured in this video.


*This video is being distributed freely to help disseminate information, and educate people about Self-Advocacy. SAU1 does not own this video, and all credit is given to the original author. Because this information is being distributed freely for educational purposes this would fall under fair use. You can view source citations and fair use definition HERE.

A Self-Advocate’s Guide to Medicaid

About Medicaid

Medicaid is the biggest health care program in the country. It’s an important part of the United States health care system. But a lot of the information out there about Medicaid and attempts to change it can be difficult to understand and navigate. That’s why ASAN is proud to announce the release of their plain language resource “A Self-Advocate’s Guide to Medicaid.” This resource was developed in collaboration with the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASERT), and with funding from the Special Hope Foundation.


The Self-Advocate’s Resources

This resource is the third of several that ASAN is developing to equip self-advocates to participate in important conversations about our lives and the services we rely on. The Medicaid toolkit is available in two versions:


  • The Easy Read Edition. The Easy Read version is divided into six parts, each containing one subject discussed in the toolkit: Medicaid introduction and background, Who Can Get Medicaid?, What Does Medicaid Pay For?, Medicaid funding, What Could Happen to Medicaid?, and a summary and glossary explaining the terms we use in the toolkit. The Easy Read version uses pictures along with text, and has more white space.


  • A Plain-Text Version for either those with vision-related disabilities or those who would prefer a version without accompanying graphics. The Plain Text Version is available as one document, or in individual parts.


Self-Advocate’s Medicaid Resources

Easy Read Resources

Just click the link of what you are interested in below to view or download the Easy Read resource.

  1. Medicaid Introduction and Background
  2. Who Can Get Medicaid
  3. What Does Medicaid Pay For
  4. Medicaid Funding
  5. What Could Happen to Medicaid
  6. Summary and Glossary


Plain Text Resources

Just click the link of what you are interested in below to view or download the Plain Text resource.

Complete Medicaid Toolkit

  1. Medicaid Introduction and Background
  2. Who Can Get Medicaid
  3. What Does Medicaid Pay For
  4. Medicaid Funding
  5. What Could Happen to Medicaid
  6. Summary and Glossary


*Resources Courtesy of ASAN with collaboration of ASERT.

SAU1 Voting Teleconference Summary

Voting Rights

Everyone has the fundamental right to vote, and everyone has the right to get needed assistance.


Voting ID Requirements

A big voting issue recently is Voter ID Laws in Texas. On April 10, 2017, SB 14 (SB 14 is the law enacted by Texas Legislators) the District Court has once again ruled that the SB 14 law is intended to discriminate against minority voters in Texas. This ruling for SB 14 has set precedent for other states with the case law “Texas NAACP v. Steen” (consolidated with “Veasey v. Abbott”). For more information about this law CLICK HERE.

That being said, there are only 2 times when trying to vote that it is mandatory to show ID. You need to show ID when you go to vote for the first time, and you need to show ID if you go to a polling place that you have never been to before. If you have already voted in the past, and you have voted at the polling place before you do NOT have to show ID.

If you feel like you are being forced to show ID at a polling place in an illegal manner, Please call the hotline number listed below.


Polling Place Accessibility

Last week in Washington County, 39 surveys were completed for inaccessible polling places. Those surveys were sent to the state for review. If you visit a polling place and it is inaccessible for any reason please let us know. A polling place would be considered inaccessible if there is no wheel chair ramp, if it doesn’t have at least one accessible voting machine or computer, or if there is no one there to accommodate the needs of somebody with a disability.

If your polling place is inaccessible, or if one of your friends tell you their polling place is inaccessible, please call the hotline number below and report the polling place. This will help your communities by trying to get those places accessible for everyone’s needs.


Disability Rights Pennsylvania Hotline

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Hotline 1-800-692-7443

PAautism and ASERT – Autism Needs Assessment Survey Coming Soon!


The Bureau of Autism Services is partnering with the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASERT) to learn more about the needs of individuals with autism across Pennsylvania. To support this effort, ASERT will soon be conducting an Autism Needs Assessment survey.

*Above statement corrected 4/26/17

How can you help?

  • Encourage parents of children with autism and individuals over the age of 18 to complete the PA Autism Needs Assessment at www.paautism.org/needsassessment or complete the paper copy mailed to them.

Do you work with a family or individuals over 18 would who prefer a paper copy of the PA Autism Needs Assessment?

  • You can call ASERT to request a paper copy for them, or give them the ASERT phone number (1-877-231-4244) or Email (info@paautism.org).

Who gets the Autism Needs Assessment?

  • Parents of a child with autism or an individual with autism over 18 can complete the survey.
    Anyone, regardless of if they have received a letter, can complete the survey on the website.

Where can I find more information?

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ) are on the PAautism website, www.PAautism.org/needsassessment
  • Call the ASERT Resource Center at 1-877-231-4244
  • Email info@paautism.org.


PA autism ASERT

Completing the PA Autism Needs Assessment in no way impacts program enrollment or services.

ASERT can also connect you with helpful resources and tools, as well as news on training opportunities and events in your community. Please visit www.paautism.org to learn more about ASERT, sign up for our newsletter, and create an account to start pinning resources. To learn more about autism in your county visit the PA Autism Census Page.


Additional Information

In preparation for the release of the survey, we are requesting that you review the attached PDF, which explains important details about the upcoming survey, including different options individuals and families will have to complete the survey. We ask that you help to share this information, and encourage individuals with autism and their parents/caregivers to complete the needs assessment. To stay up to date with the PA Autism Needs Assessment please visit: www.paautism.org/needsassessment.

Click HERE To View or Download The Original Document


If you have questions on the Needs Assessment, you can call the ASERT Resource Center at 1-877-231-4244 or email info@paautism.org.

Mailing Address:

Department of Human Services | ODP | Bureau of Autism Services

625 Forster St Room 605| Hbg PA 17105
Phone: 866.539.7689 | Fax: 717.265.7761


Supporting Pennsylvanians with developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence, choice and opportunity in their lives.