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News from Disability Rights Ohio is the monthly newsletter from the Disability Rights Ohio providing information and updates about case work and activities of Disability Rights Ohio, and other disability-related news.

 

In this issue:

 

Ohio Department of Education begins formal process to adopt Seclusion and Restraint rule; Public hearing planned for March 12, 2013

The long-awaited rule to limit the use of seclusion and restraint interventions in public schools and to implement positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) was filed with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on February 8, 2013.

While the State Board of Education recently approved a new policy limiting the use of seclusion and restraint interventions and implementing PBIS in Ohio's public schools, the official filing of the rule with JCARR signals the beginning of the formal process to adopt the rule. This will make it enforceable by law.

The Ohio Department of Education will hold a public hearing to accept comments on the rule at 9 a.m. March 12, 2013 in Room 001 at the Ohio Department of Education building, 25 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43215.

Disability Rights Ohio staff plans to attend the public hearing and comment on the importance of this rule, which seeks to limit seclusion and restraint interventions, implement PBIS, require parental notice, and mandate local data reporting and state level monitoring of such interventions.

If you or your organization is interested in commenting on the rule, you may attend the public hearing in person to deliver your comments or you may submit comments in writing to the Ohio Department of Education.  If you have any questions or concerns about the public hearing or the rule itself, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance.

Related documents:

Legal Notice of the Public Hearing [PDF]

Rule Summary and Fiscal Analysis (Part A) [PDF]

Text of the proposed rule [PDF]

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After ODE finds no violation of student rights in Columbus City Schools, Disability Rights Ohio issues letter requesting staff development

After Columbus City Schools refused to remove the doors of seclusion rooms in response to Disability Rights Ohio's investigative report, Disability Rights Ohio and a parent of an 18-year-old student who has autism filed a formal written complaint with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The complaint alleged individual and system-wide violations of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

On January 11, 2013, ODE issued its Findings Letter. Despite approximately 1,800 incidents of seclusion and restraint reported by the district, ODE found no student’s rights were violated. Dissatisfied with ODE’s conclusions, Disability Rights Ohio sent a letter to ODE on Wednesday, February 6, requesting that ODE reconsider its findings and require staff development for both the ODE and district staff. The letter included a number of resources to assist in this effort. PDFs of the findings report from the ODE, the letter from Disability Rights Ohio and the additional resources included with the letter are below.

Disability Rights Ohio urges action due to the volume of occurrences across the district, which suggests an acute problem that is likely disrupting the education of many students, not just those experiencing restraint and seclusion. The volume of incidents also indicates a system-wide failure to meet the behavioral needs of students in these schools. 

Ohio Department of Education Findings Letter to the Columbus City Schools [PDF]

Response Letter to Ohio Department of Education from Disability Rights Ohio [PDF]

Additional resources included with the letter:

Developing School Policies and Procedures for Physical Restraint and Seclusion in Nebraska Schools [PDF]

Developing and Supporting Teachers' Ability to Prevent and Reduce Restraint and Seclusion [PDF]

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Disability Rights Ohio applauds Governor Kasich’s budget plan to expand Medicaid and simplify the eligibility process

A proposal to expand Medicaid and simplify its eligibility process has been included in Governor Kasich’s executive budget request for state fiscal years 2014-2015.

In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law originally mandated that all States expand Medicaid to all persons with incomes under 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is less than approximately $15,415 per year for a single person and less than $31,809 for a family of four.  In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held that state could not be required to expand Medicaid coverage; any expansion had to be optional.

As a result of Gov. Kasich’s decision to move forward with expanding Medicaid coverage up to the 138% of FPL, many more Ohioans, including people with the disabilities, will now be eligible for Medicaid and have greater access to healthcare and mental health services.  The following are specific examples of how Medicaid Expansion will benefit the disability community:

  • According to the Office of Health Transformation, many of the Ohioans who currently attempt to access mental health services through county boards of mental health and addiction services will become eligible for Medicaid under the expansion, allowing counties to redirect those resources for other supportive services, such as housing or employment;
  • Medicaid expansion no longer requires a disability determination for eligibility purposes. This  helps low-income adults who may have disabilities but do not meet the formal disability requirements of the SSI program or are forced to wait a long time before a determination is made on their case;
  • Current eligibility criteria will not change for people with disabilities who are receiving Medicaid through a home and community based services waiver or the Medicaid Buy In for Workers with a Disability program.

According to estimates, approximately 500,000 to 700,000 Ohioans will gain coverage under the expansion. Moreover, the expansion will result in billions of additional federal funds flowing into Ohio’s healthcare systems, creating jobs and supporting the Ohio economy – not to mention providing critical healthcare services to many newly eligible Ohioans. Disability Rights Ohio will continue to advocate for people with disabilities to be considered for employment opportunities and job-training services.

In addition to the expansion of the Medicaid program, the budget request also includes a provision to simplify and modernize the Medicaid eligibility process. We hope this effort will result in a more timely,  consumer friendly, and person-centered approach to applying for and receiving care under Ohio’s Medicaid program.  

One note of caution, however: according to the Office of Health Transformation, the Kasich administration is proposing new Medicaid cost-sharing requirements for every adult earning more than 100% of the FPL.  For example, Medicaid will now require an $8 copayment for inappropriate use of a hospital emergency department, $8 co-pays for nonpreferred drugs, and $3 co-pays for preferred drugs.  Disability Rights Ohio will continue to examine these cost-sharing initiatives and report our findings as more information becomes available.

Now that Governor Kasich has submitted his executive budget proposal for state fiscal years 2014-2015, members of the Ohio General Assembly will begin holding hearings to examine its many provisions. If you are interested in expressing your position on any budget-related matter, now is the time to contact your state Representative or Senator.

Other online resources:

Governor's Office of Health Transformation: Extend Medicaid Coverage to Low-Income Ohioans website

Governor's Office of Health Transformation: Governor Kasich's official proposal

Health Policy Institute of Ohio: Policy considerations for Medicaid expansion in Ohio [PDF]

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Help us keep the victories coming! Donate online to Disability Rights Ohio

We had two big wins in just one week: the Ohio Department of Education's changes to the seclusion and restraint policy and rule in Ohio's public schools and the Ohio Supreme Court's unanimous opinion that individuals under guardianship have a right to a lawyer during their review hearings. 

When these cases came through, our staff at Disability Rights Ohio headquarters literally cheered; it was cause for celebration. These victories are a big deal to us and an even bigger deal to individuals with disabilities, both now and in the future. We believe people with disabilities should be allowed to participate in the community and have a say in how they live, just like people who live without a disability. There is always more to do, but we need your help.

Disability Rights Ohio can now accept donations via PayPal. You can find the PayPal button on our Donate page. Please consider making a donation yourself or come up with a creative way to raise money for our cause. Thank you so much for your support!

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Action and results: Case summaries

Advocacy from Disability Rights Ohio helps trio overcome zoning barrier

A northeastern Ohio service provider for three adults with developmental disabilities purchased a new house for them to live in.  But before they could move into their home, a local official raised an objection to the men moving into the house, telling the service provider that local zoning laws required a special permit.  This objection raised red flags about what appeared to be differential treatment and the provider contacted DRO for assistance.

A Disability Rights Ohio attorney sent a letter advocating for the legal rights of individuals with disabilities.  The letter warned that if non-disabled individuals could move into a residential area without the delay, cost and uncertainty of a conditional permit, then individuals with disabilities have a right to do that as well.

Local officials gave the go-ahead for the individuals to move into the new house.

 

Father gets help after insurance company denies claim of iPad as medical equipment

A young man who is non-verbal has obtained an iPad to communicate with his family, teachers and peers, but at first his insurance company rejected the claim for the device.

His father sought to obtain the device for his son, using money maintained in a Health Care Reimbursement Account, at the recommendation of the son’s doctor, speech therapist and behavior therapist. His entire treatment team provided detailed letters in support of the client receiving this device, noting the findings of other insurance companies and manufacturers that this can be considered IRS medical equipment. When the parent received the rejection notice, he contacted Disability Rights Ohio for assistance.

We provided research information to the parent and recommended he pursue an appeal with the insurance company. On appeal, the insurance company found that the iPad qualified as medical equipment and approved the request.

 

Child awarded home-based care waiver after appeal succeeds

A child who had twice been denied a home-based care waiver will now be able to maintain her nursing services and may be able to get home modifications or equipment to remain in home due to assistance from Disability Rights Ohio.

A DRO staff attorney represented the client at two state hearings--first to determine whether hearing had been requested within the proper timeframe and by an individual with authority to do so, second to determine whether the denial of waiver enrollment was correct. DRO assisted the foster mother in presenting extensive evidence of the client's unstable medical condition and her need for waiver services. The hearing officer ordered Care Star to reassess the client, and ultimately the client was enrolled on the Ohio Home Care Waiver.

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