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NEWS

Jan.,
2002

 

  • Institution Owners Stole Millions From Schools
  • Residents sue to leave CA institutions
  • MiCASSA Introduced In House, Again
  • Case on commitment heads back to Kansas
  • NY pay raise -- not for in-home workers
  • Editorial Blasts State For Lack Of Resources
  • Charleston, SC cuts bus service to disabled riders
  • Developer to Pay $42,000 for Ignoring Access
  • Wrongful birth suits to be voided by law
  • SF Can't Stop Laguna Honda Suit, Judge Rules

    Institution Owners Stole Millions From Schools
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    PATERSON, NJ, Jan. 30, 2002 --The owners of six private institutions have been accused of stealing $3.6 million from local public school districts, by setting up bogus jobs for friends and relatives.

    Daniel Greco, 45, and Philip Scardilli, 51, are the cofounders and operators of the Windsor Schools, six institutions that specialize in serving students with disabilities from local public schools.

    Attorney General David Samson on Monday charged Greco and Scardilli with giving "no-show" jobs paying up to $150,000 to their wives, brothers and in-laws. From 1995 to 2000, the owners handed out paychecks to seven friends and relatives who did not show up to work, came in for minimal hours or did not do what they were paid to do, Samson said yesterday.

    Those seven face conspiracy and theft charges and could face sentences of 10 years in prison and fines of $150,000 each. Windsor Schools served 342 students last year. Tuition of up to $30,000 for each child was paid by the public schools.


    Residents sue to leave CA institutions
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    OAKLAND, CA, Jan. 28, 2002 -- Avery Russell, is tired of living at Agnews Developmental Center, an institution housing hundreds of people with developmental disabilities.

    "I want to be on my own," said Russell, 45. "I'd be happy to be on my own."

    Last Friday, Russell and 11 other people living in California's institutions and large care facilities filed a class-action lawsuit against the state and its 21 regional centers, demanding to be allowed to live in the community.

    Protection and Advocacy, Inc. filed the suit also on behalf of Capitol People First, Arc California, and California Alliance for Inclusive Communities (CAIC). Two California taxpayers who are also disability rights advocates have joined the suit, claiming that the state has illegally spent tax dollars by failing to provide community supports for people with developmental disabilities in violation of federal law.

    The suit names as defendants the California Health and Human Services Agency, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), the Department of Health Services (DHS), the Department of Finance and the directors of each department. It also lists the state's 21 Regional Centers that contract with DDS to provide services to people with developmental disabilities.If it is accepted as a class action, it could impact hundreds or thousands of people currently living in institutions or those who might be at risk of being moved into them.

    California houses nearly 4,000 people with developmental disabilities in expensive, outdated institutions, here called "developmental centers". About 25 percent of the state's entire developmental disabilities budget is spent on the 2 percent that are in these facilities. Yet the state has made little progress in moving people into the community in the 30 months since the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, which found that institutionalizing people "unnecessarily" violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    "It's about quality of life," said Pat Napoliello of Arc California, whose 21-year-old son lives in his own apartment with an assistant. "It's about the right to choose where to go on the weekend, what to watch on TV, what to eat, when to go to bed."

    Several Bay Area newspapers ran articles on the suit. The San Jose Mercury News's is at http://www0.mercurycenter.com/premium/local/docs/disabled26a.htm

    For background on California's move to the community, check out this Inclusion Daily Express web page: http://www.InclusionDaily.com/news/community/caaroner.htm


    MiCASSA Introduced In House, Again
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    January 25, 2002 -- WASHINGTON, DC--The Medicaid Community Attendant Services and Supports Act, commonly known as MiCASSA, was introduced Wednesday as HR 3612.

    The bipartisan legislation would allow people who are eligible for Medicaid to use their benefits to purchase community supports such as personal attendants. Its passage would signal a radical move from the current system in which most Medicaid funds go to institutions and nursing homes. If it becomes law, MiCASSA would also put the choices for services into the hands of those who receive services.

    MiCASSA is not new. Five years ago, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich introduced the measure as HR 2020. Last August, it was introduced to the Senate by Senators Tom Harkin (D.-IA), Ted Kennedy (D.-MA), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.-NY), Joseph Biden (D.-DE) and Arlen Specter (R.-PA) as S. 1298.

    Many disability rights groups have championed MiCASSA. One of those is ADAPT, which has more information on MiCASSA at this webpage: http://www.adapt.org/casaintr.htm You can join thousands of MiCASSA supporters by filling out this form: http://www.adapt.org/casa/support.htm


    Case on commitment heads back to Kansas
    January 24, 2002 - Michael Crane was convicted of sex crimes. Twice. After prison, he was committed to a mental hospital.

    In 1994 Kansas passed the Sexually Violent Predator Act to allow the commitment of sex criminals who are ruled incompetent or insane or who have served their sentences.

    Michael Crane appealed his commitment.

    The Kansas Supreme Court, citing the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in Kansas v Hendricks, found that because no one had shown that Crane was unable to control his dangerous behaviour, his commitment was unconstitutional; Kansas appealed.

    In its ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that the state doesn't have to show that Crane is unable to control his behavior; proof that he has serious difficulty controlling it is enough.

    Justice Breyer, in the majority opinion, wrote that "Insistence upon absolute lack of control would risk barring the civil commitment of highly dangerous persons suffering severe mental abnormalities."

    On the other hand, Kansas hadn't demonstrated that Michael Crane had any problems with control, so the question of his commitment is heading back to the Kansas courts.

    The ruling doesn't address whether people can be confined solely because they've been identified as mentally abnormal, but because civil commitment may not be used to as a deterrent to crime, Kansas needs to be clear as to why Michael Crane, unlike many other dangerous people, should not be dealt with only by the legal system.

    To read the decision for yourself: http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-957.ZO.html


    NY pay raise -- not for in-home workers
    Albany, NY, Jan. 23, 2002 -- In mid-January, New York Gov. George Pataki and state lawmakers agreed to a financial deal to improve wages and benefits for most people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and clinics. Left out? New York's thousands of workers who provide in-home services. Much of the deal developed over the past two months "was hatched with the help of one of the chief beneficiaries of the legislation, SEIU Local 1199," reported the Albany (NY) Times Union on Jan. 16. "SEIU, which represents 220,000 health care workers, bused 1,000 workers to the Capitol Tuesday, mostly from New York City's five boroughs, to press their case," reported the paper.

    The Service Employees International Union has had a history of pushing for benefits for workers in nursing homes; nationwide, the union has mostly ignored in-home services workers (See "Stuck at the Nursing Home Door"). That's just what happened in New York last week. In-home services workers "were shut out of the state's three-year plan to funnel $1.8 billion of government Medicaid money into retention and recruitment efforts that will result in better-than-inflation raises for many," reported the Jan. 21 Buffalo News.

    The result, say those involved in the "home care" industry, means that workers will leave positions to go work in nursing homes, where they can get better-paying jobs. "With other health care people now being paid more, it is going to be even harder for home care to survive," said Manhattan's Richard Gottfried, a member of the state assembly.

    Read The Buffalo News's "Home care ignored in bailout."


    Editorial Blasts State For Lack Of Community Resources
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    Chicago, Jan. 22, 2002 --There are an estimated 4,000 people with developmental disabilities waiting for community-based residential services in Illinois.

    But the state has no waiting list.

    Why?

    "There is no waiting list because officials at the state Department of Human Services decline to keep one. Legislators repeatedly refuse to mandate such a list," according to an opinion piece that ran in Monday's Chicago Tribune.

    Why?

    "Nobody wants to acknowledge that there's a severe lack of housing in Illinois for those with developmental and mental disabilities."

    Why?

    "Because then somebody would have to do something about it . . . And that would be expensive," reads the editorial.

    But so is the way things are going now. Currently the state spends one-third of its developmental disabilities budget to house 3,200 people in Illinois' nine large institutions.

    "It costs nearly $100,000 to house someone in an Illinois institution for a year, compared with roughly $40,000 in a supervised neighborhood home. . . Illinois is not making the best use of its money."

    Read the Chicago Tribune editorial.


    Charleston, SC cuts bus service to disabled riders
    CHARLESTON, SC, Jan. 21, 2002 -- Charleston's bus system plans to cut service to hundreds of disabled beginning March 1. The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority told reporters it would no longer provide its "Tel-A-Ride" service beyond a minimum area that it said was mandated by the federal governmen -- saving an estimated $300,000 annually

    "I can't believe it," Louise Burne told the Charleston Post & Courier. "I'm not one to use the word 'discrimination,' but is it? I don't know." Bus system head Howard Chapman told the paper the bus system faded a $350,000

    Currently, Tel-A-Ride users pay $2. But each trip cost the bus system nearly $20, Chapman said. That cost could be passed on to riders to pay, but Chapman told reporters he thought few riders could afford to pay that much.


    Developer to Pay $42,000 for Ignoring Access
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    POCATELLO, IDAHO, Jan. 16, 2001 -- An Idaho developer has agreed to pay $42,000 in damages and penalties, and to build new accessible apartment units, after admitting to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that it discriminated against people with disabilities when it built a Pocatello apartment complex.

    According to a statement released Wednesday by the Justice Department, Allan Horsley and Horsley Construction had been charged with violating the federal Fair Housing Act when building the 12-unit Elms Apartments.

    Horsley admitted that six-inch steps made the common areas and routes through the complex inaccessible. The builder also admitted that the doorways, hallways and some rooms were too narrow for wheelchairs; light switches, electrical outlets, and thermostats were placed in inaccessible locations; and bathroom walls lacked reinforcements to allow for the installation of grab bars.

    Under the agreement, Horsley agreed to pay $10,000 to a person using a wheelchair who wanted to live at the Elms but was unable to do so, and $14,000 to others who were discriminated against at the complex. Horsley also agreed to build 16 new accessible units in Pocatello, and to pay $4,000 to the Intermountain Fair Housing Council which had filed the original complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    Information on the laws concerning accessible housing are available at the HUD website: http://www.hud.gov/groups/disabilities.cfm


    Proposal Would Keep People From Filing "Wrongful Birth" Lawsuits
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    PARIS, FRANCE, Jan. 16, 2002 --The French National Assembly passed a bill Thursday that lawmakers say would stop people with disabilities from filing so-called "wrongful birth" lawsuits against doctors for allowing them to be born. The proposal now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to become law before the end of February. More.


    SF Can't Stop Laguna Honda Suit, Judge Rules
    Berkeley, Jan. 7, 2002 -- Despite the city of San Francisco's best efforts to have the case thrown out of court, residents of the city-owned Laguna Honda nursing home can proceed with their lawsuit, a federal judge ruled has ruled.

    The class-action lawsuit, filed in July, 2000, charges the city with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide community-based services for individuals who would prefer to live at home rather than in institutions. "This is the second time the city tried to have this lawsuit thrown out," said plaintiffs' attorney Buckmaster deWolf . "The plaintiffs have waited long enough. It is time to move forward with this case."

    San Francisco had also filed an earlier motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but U. S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong denied that motion last August.

    Laguna Honda Hospital, the largest publicly-owned nursing home in the country, became the focus of national attention in October, when hundreds of demonstrators from California and around the country rallied on its grounds. They demanded that the city and state spend long term care dollars on community-based services, rather than rebuilding Laguna Honda for an estimated $450 million. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Laguna Honda for possible violations of the ADA.

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