- Disability Rights Ohio returns to full operations
- DRO files complaint on behalf of those disenrolled from Medicaid waiver
- Staff Profile: Attorney Barb Corner fulfills her dream of working for 'the good guys'
- Is your new assistive device a lemon? You may be eligible for a refund
- Listening Tour traveled 1,725 miles around Ohio
- Voting Day is November 5! Read up on your rights
- Actions and Results: Case Summaries
- Help us keep the victories coming! Donate online to Disability Rights Ohio
With Congress passing a continuing resolution to fund the federal government, Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) is now back to full operations. DRO had previously limited services to new clients until the 2014 federal budget was decided, which allowed the organization to assess its ongoing obligations to existing clients.
Federal protection and advocacy grants make up about 90% of DRO’s current budget. During the federal government shutdown, callers were provided referrals or brief advice and resources to support self-advocacy.
If you called during this time and were told that DRO couldn’t represent you, you may want to call and ask for your case to be re-evaluated.
DRO is glad to be back in full swing and thanks everyone for their patience.
Over the past several months, Disability Rights Ohio received numerous reports that people with developmental disabilities were being targeted for disenrollment from the Ohio Home Care waiver, a Medicaid home and community-based services program that helps people live and get services in the community. These people were alleged to have had a change in their level of care, even though neither their condition nor needs had changed. They were expected to access services through the developmental disabilities system in Ohio instead, which has long, slow-moving waiting lists in each county for many of its programs. Moreover, people were informed that enrollment on the Transitions DD waiver, which covers services identical to those under the Ohio Home Care waiver, was not an option.
After investigating this matter, Disability Rights Ohio concluded that the actions of the state of Ohio unlawfully put these people at serious risk of being put in an institution, a violation of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in L.C. v. Olmstead. We filed a complaint with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees states’ Medicaid programs. CMS agreed, and the state of Ohio has created a “state-level process” to ensure that people with developmental disabilities who are disenrolled from the Ohio Home Care waiver because of an alleged change in their level of care are able to access other home and community-based programs (for example, the Transitions DD waiver) with no lapse in services.
If you or someone you know has been notified of a proposed disenrollment from the Ohio Home Care waiver because of an alleged change in level of care, please contact Disability Rights Ohio’s intake department immediately.
Disability Rights Ohio attorney Barb Corner originally wanted to be a teacher. As she studied, however, she realized that not being able to see to the back of the classroom might make classroom discipline difficult. She decided to think about what else she might like to do.
That summer, Corner watched the Watergate hearings, and she found her niche. “I was convinced that I wanted to be a civil rights lawyer,” she says. “I wanted to work for the good guys.”
After law school, she moved around a lot, which meant having to pass the Bar exam in three different states: New York, Alabama and Ohio. It was in the process of preparing for the Bar in Ohio that she was introduced to Ohio Legal Rights Service (OLRS), now Disability Rights Ohio, who helped her get accommodations to take the test. She joined our staff in September 1998.
In the last 15 years, Corner’s work has focused mostly on assisting people with disabilities obtain services to help them get or keep a job.
“Because of my own disability, I feel like I’m able to relate to my clients and make a difference in their lives,” she explains. “Having a good job allows me to be independent, to go where I want, to shop where I want, to live where I want. One of the keys to being integrated into the community is having a good job.”
Deluxe, Corner’s service dog, is also an important part of her life and the office culture at DRO. “I use a dog because I find it makes me feel a lot more graceful and independent, and Deluxe also has a side role as a therapy dog,” she says. “A lot of people have come into my office to spend time with him when they’ve been going through a difficult time. And, of course, he doesn’t mind the attention.”
Corner knows her presence in the office has helped a lot of her colleagues learn more about how to interact with people with vision impairments, but she also gets a lot of satisfaction from working with such dedicated people. “The whole staff has a common goal, and they’re all so warm,” she relates. “We all believe deeply in the mission.”
Has your assistive device dealer tried to fix the same problem at least three times without success? Has your assistive device been in the shop for more than 45 days? Under Ohio’s Assistive Device Lemon Law, you may be entitled to a refund or a replacement device.
The Assistive Device Lemon Law protects consumers who have purchased or leased a new assistive device. It requires the seller to provide a warranty covering the full cost of repair or replacement for at least a year. All you have to do is return the device to the dealer and explain what is wrong before the warranty has expired, even if the repairs are made later. If the problem can’t be fixed in three tries, or if your device is in the shop for more than 45 days, you are entitled to either a replacement or a full refund (minus charges for reasonable use), whatever you prefer. If you financed the purchase of the device, you may recover interest paid. Also, if the device is being repaired for more than 21 days, the supplier must provide you with a comparable loaner device in the meantime.
The law has a few limitations. It does not cover hearing aids (though it covers devices intended to be used by an individual with a hearing disability). The law does not apply if the defect was caused by misuse of the device or an unauthorized modification. Also, the law only requires a one-year warranty after the first sale. However, if you purchased or leased a used device within its warranty period, you will still be covered until that period expires. Additionally, the law bars a dealer from reselling a device returned as a lemon without full disclosure of the defect to the new buyer.
If your new assistive device just won’t work and you are getting the runaround from your dealer, call Disability Rights Ohio for advice about your rights. If a dealer does not comply with the law and you need to hire an attorney to protect your rights, the law provides for attorney’s fees if you go to court and win. Also, a violation of the Assistive Device Lemon Law often violates other consumer protection laws, such as the Consumer Sales Practices Act.
In August, Disability Rights Ohio staff traveled across the state to hear from individuals with disabilities, their caregivers and other service professionals about the issues that were important to them. This Listening Tour allowed people to speak about their concerns in person in a more conversational manner.
DRO visited 10 Ohio cities in 2.5 weeks, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton, Athens, Chillicothe, Cambridge, Ashland and Findlay, driving 1,725 miles. The Columbus event also included a call-in option for those who could not travel. In all, 66 individuals attended the Listening Sessions, leading to some very informative conversations.
DRO also conducted a state-wide survey, which contained both multiple choice and open-ended responses. Participants had four weeks to complete the survey during the month of August. A total of 278 individuals with disabilities, their family members, caregivers and service professionals completed the survey.
Issues that were brought to our attention from the Listening Tour and the survey included transportation, housing, special education, poverty, abuse and neglect, health care and employment. Reports from the listening tour and survey were shared with the DRO board as they have worked to draft the agency’s priorities and objectives for the 2014 Fiscal Year.
Voting Day in Ohio is Tuesday, November 5!
Disability Rights Ohio is mandated by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (PL 107-252) to advocate for the rights of Ohio voters with disabilities and to assist the Secretary of State in fulfilling the Secretary's obligations to those voters under the federal law. Through this program, Disability Rights Ohio:
- educates individuals, communities, poll workers and boards of election about the voting rights of people with disabilities;
- monitors and investigates complaints about polling place accessibility and privacy;
- collaborates with other voting rights advocates for systemic change for people with disabilities;
- participates in the implementation of provisions of the Help America Vote Act affecting people with disabilities; and
- assists and represents individual voters in state-based administrative grievance processes.
Do you know your voting rights as a person with a disability? Find more information on the Voting page of our website.
DRO helps client maintain CPST services
A young man is again receiving Community Psychiatric Supportive Treatment (CPST) services, allowing him to receive the supports he needs to succeed at home, at school and in the community. Initially, the provider’s prior authorization request for additional CPST services was denied twice, putting him at risk for not having services that are coordinated to meet his needs. His parent had filed a Medicaid appeal and contacted DRO for assistance with the rest of the appeals process.
A DRO staff attorney and advocate represented the client at a Medicaid hearing to appeal the denial. The hearing officer ruled in the client's favor and ordered authorization for enough services to complete the fiscal year.
Mother successfully advocates to continue to care for her son
An individual with a physical disability was notified she could no longer be paid to care for her son, who receives services through a waiver, because she occasionally used a cane. They informed her that she could provide free care for him, effectively reducing his service hours. The individual’s employer contacted DRO to ask for assistance in advocating for her employee and the client’s healthcare needs.
A DRO attorney discussed the situation with the source, provided assistance in self-advocacy and suggested that the client ask for a notice of the reduction in hours so that he could appeal the decision. The client met with the home healthcare provider to request the notice of reduction hours and was able to successfully resolve the situation. The client reports she is satisfied with her outcome, and her son is receiving his waiver hours.
Two clients able to stay in their homes with help from DRO
A client with a severe disability and history of chronic homelessness maintained his subsidized housing and support services due to assistance from DRO. His landlord filed an eviction notice due to disability-related incidents, and he was in danger of losing housing and services. A DRO attorney provided advocacy and successfully represented the client at an eviction hearing. The case was dismissed, and the client received a reasonable accommodations agreement with his landlord.
An individual who was at risk of eviction because of minor incidents related to his disability maintained his residence in the community due to assistance from DRO. A staff attorney provided information to the client’s parent and negotiated with the landlord to provide a reasonable accommodation for the client’s disability. The client and his parent are satisfied with the outcome.
Advocate, staff attorney work to keep client in the community
A client has settled into his new home close to family and friends with the supports he needs to live in the least restrictive environment. Initially, he had a court-ordered placement in a developmental center and was later transferred to a private ICF-IID several counties away from his family. His parent contacted DRO because he was concerned he might lose custody of his child and wanted his son to live in a less restrictive environment.
An advocate and a staff attorney researched the case, reviewed documents and attended meetings, phone conferences and court proceedings. They also advised the client's family and attorney on the DD system and how to advocate for the client to return to the community. When advocacy wasn’t successful, DRO finally threatened to sue multiple agencies so the client could be enrolled on an IO waiver and find another placement in the community near his family.
After many months of working with the court, the family and attorney, county DD board, school district, county JFS, and other parties, the client was finally enrolled on an IO waiver, and found a home near his family with 24-hour staffing. The client is happy in this new setting.
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!