Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tennessee finally closing the Medicaid Gap?

The Three-Star Healthcare Taskforce Pilot Program for Tennessee

People holding signs supporting the 3 star healthy pilot

The Three-Star Healthcare Taskforce released an outline of a Medicaid expansion plan today. The process has taken far too long and has been costly for the state of Tennessee, but finally our state may have an insurance proposal that could close the coverage gap.

The Taskforce was created by Speaker Beth Harwell to address the Legislature overlooking the issue of Medicaid Expansion in the state of Tennessee. The Three-Star Healthcare Taskforce has been hearing from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services about the proposal.

The proposal is called a “Pilot” program and may be adopted as soon as April of next year. The first phase of the plan would be to cover about 140,000 people in Tennessee without insurance by diagnosis, and expand the program if it meets goals set for the first six months. The proposal includes employment and job training services for enrollees.

Phase two would be rolled out in January of 2018 at the earliest. The second phase will close the coverage gap and be paid for by the federal government through the Affordable Care Act and the Tennessee Hospital Association will pick-up the balance.

Tennessee Long-Term Care Program begins July 1

Employment and Community First Program offers options to institutions

June 30
Starting this Friday, individuals with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities not currently receiving Medicaid waiver services can apply for the new Employment and Community First program.

The new Employment and Community First program is an effort to serve more people and expand options in long-term services and supports with TennCare.

The ECF program opens for applications this Friday, July 1, 2016. Referrals for enrollment cannot be accepted before Friday. However, starting Friday, you can fill out a "self-referral online form" on the TennCare homepage to apply for the program. The form will be posted and available at:

You may apply by completing the self-referral form at the link above; but if you need help or have questions you can call the agencies listed below. Applicants who have Medicaid but are not sure who the MCO is may call the Tennessee Health Connection line 1-855-259-0701.

Applicants who already have Medicaid and are enrolled with Amerigroup or BlueCare should contact their Managed Care Organization with questions or if you need assistance completing the self-referral form. You can find the information about how to call your MCO on your insurance card.

Applicants who already have Medicaid and are enrolled with United HealthCare Community Plan should contact Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Regional Intake Offices with questions or if you need assistance completing the self-referral form.

Applicants who do not have Medicaid should contact Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Regional Intake Offices with questions or for assistance completing the self-referral form for both ECF CHOICES and applying for Medicaid. The DIDD contact information is below:

DIDD Regional Intake Office Contact information:
West Tennessee Regional Office Office of Intake (866) 372-5709
Middle Tennessee Regional Office Office of Intake (800) 654-4839
East Tennessee Regional Office Office of Intake (888) 531-9876 
If you are currently on the waiting list for home- and community-based services (HCBS) through the Medicaid waiver you should receive a letter about the new program the first week it begins. The letter should tell you to use the self-referral form on the TennCare website, starting July 1. Based on the information DIDD currently has about you they may automatically refer you to the ECF CHOICES program in an active or deferred category.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Accessible Bus Stops

MPO Accessible Bus Stop Survey ends Thursday

MATA bus operator
The Metropolitan Planning Organization was at MCIL last week to ask about accessible bus stops. We gave them some suggestions from our experience and what we have heard from bus riders with disabilities.

Tell MATA what you think is important for future bus stops! Take the following survey:

The survey only takes a couple of minutes and will close on July 31, 2016.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Check your voter registration

Verify your voter information to make sure your vote counts

Tim Wheat at a Memphis polling site
By Tim Wheat Over half a million people are registered to vote in Shelby County; are you? The best way to make sure your vote counts is to check your voter registration now. You can check the registration on line with the State of Tennessee or with Shelby County if you live in Memphis.

Tennessee Election information:

Shelby County Election information: 

If you are listed as "inactive" or not registered at your current address, you can easily update your voter information. The process starts with a simple check to make sure you are a registered voter. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Olmstead Decision 17 years ago today

Olmstead Litigators Issue Statements of Support for Disability Integration Act (S.2427)

On the 17th anniversary of the Olmstead decision, two legendary Olmstead litigators have released the following statements in support for the Disability Integration Act. 

Statement from Sue Jamieson, J.D.

Sue Jamieson
As lead council for Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson in the Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), l have seen the remarkable opportunity that the right to integrated services provided them. The landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court established that that people with disabilities have a qualified right to receive state funded supports and services in the community. The Olmstead decision is one of the most important civil rights cases for people with disabilities, and is perhaps the clearest statement currently written in law of the right of people with disabilities to live in the community.

As we mark the seventeenth anniversary of that decision, however, we also must recognize that the promise of Olmstead, the promise of community integration, has not been realized for millions of people with disabilities in the United States. Public entities and managed care organizations still limit access to community-based services, and individuals with disabilities – unable to get the community-based services and supports they need – are forced into unwanted institutional placements in nursing facilities, state institutions and other segregated settings. To address this injustice, I support the passage of the Disability Integration Act (DIA-S.2427), a bill establishing, for the first time in Federal statute, that people with disabilities have a civil right to live and receive services in the community, rather than being segregated in institutional settings.

The Disability Integration Act secures in statute the right articulated in Olmstead in a way that will ensure that as many people with disabilities as possible are able to live in freedom. This bill calls for long-overdue changes to services and supports which can empower people with disabilities to participate more fully in our society, but which right now often have the effect of isolating and disempowering people with disabilities. I support the intention and language of DIA and strongly encourage Congress to pass this legislation, which is an important advance in the civil rights of people with disabilities. I also call on advocates in the Disability Community to commemorate this important anniversary by reaching out to your elected officials and candidates to secure their support for this bill.

Statement from Steve Gold, J.D.

Lois Curtis
On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court held in Olmstead held that “unnecessary isolation is properly regarded as discrimination based on disability.” In this decision, the Court upheld the Americans with Disabilities Act’s regulation that “[a] public entity shall administer services, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities.”

As we mark the seventeenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., it is important to remember that today people with disabilities remain segregated and locked away in nursing facilities and other institutional settings because states and managed care companies restrict access to community-based services. That’s why I support the passage of the Disability Integration Act (S.2427), legislation that would clearly establish in Federal law that disabled people have the right, and the real opportunity, to receive services in the community, rather than being segregated in institutional settings.

The Disability Integration Act would finally unite those of us in the community with all of our disabled brothers and sisters who have been left behind in segregated settings all these years. I am adding my voice to those of my sisters and brothers in ADAPT and the broader Disability Rights Movement to call on Congress to pass this legislation because our people have been locked away for far too long and it is time that we recognize that it is a civil right for all Americans to live in the community. I also call on advocates throughout the Disability Community to contact your elected officials and candidates for office to secure their support for this important legislation.

It’s time that the United States finally assure that Americans with disabilities are afforded their right to Liberty as guaranteed to them under the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

It’s time to FREE OUR PEOPLE! The Disability Odyssey continues.

Beyond Olmstead : How the Disability Integration Act Advances the Right to Community Integration

The Disability Integration Act would make significant strides in advancing the issue of community integration of people with disabilities beyond existing law.  These include:
Steve Gold1.  creating a direct and clear statutory requirement for community integration;

2.  adding MCOs as directly covered entities;

3.  establishing a stronger definition of “community-based;"

4.  reducing the threshold of protection from "at serious risk of institutionalization" to "at risk of institutionalization;"

5.  eliminating the treating professional role in determining whether community integration is appropriate for the individual;

6.  establishing specific prohibitions addressing systemic discrimination which is not only permissible under current law, but rampant across the country (waiting lists, restrictive eligibility criteria, service gaps, cost caps, and inadequate rates);

7.  requiring public entities to address the need for affordable, accessible, integrated housing that is independent of service delivery;

8.  eliminating the fundamental alteration defense so that public entities will be required to modify their programs to assure that people with disabilities can receive LTSS in the community and can lead an independent life;

9.  requiring public entities and MCOs to engage in a self-evaluation that has substantial public participation;

10.  requiring public entities to develop and implement a transition plan with milestones or benchmarks;

11.  establishing a process to assess compliance with the milestones and reward states that meet their deadlines; and

12.  establishing the ability to be awarded punitive damages.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Caregivers and Alzheimer's

Fifth Annual Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference

Bobbie Fields
By Bobbie Fields

The Fifth Annual Alzheimer’s Caregiver Conference was about becoming an empowered caregiver. It can feel overwhelming to take care of a person with dementia, and may harm both if the caregiver is neglected.

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is not a normal part of aging. The disease may cause a person to become confused, get lost in familiar places, misplace things or have trouble with language.

Brent Worthington, a former primary caregiver, is the author of “Things you never want to hear your grandmother say.”  He spoke about his experience with caring for his grandmother. Mr. Worthington said there were times when he had to be creative in order to get her to eat, bathe, dress and go to bed.

Dr. Brandon C. Baughman, Ph. D, Board Certified in Clinical Neuropsychology at the Semmes-Murphy Neurologic and Spine Institute; talked about the forms of Alzheimer’s such as Vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Down Syndrome and Huntington’s disease just to name a few. He said more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. That includes 11% of those age 65 and older and a third of those 85 and older. The disease also impacts more than 15 million family members, friends and caregivers.

For a caregiver to take good care of their family; they must also take care of themselves. There are ten signs of caregiver stress: denial, anger, social withdrawal, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, sleeplessness, irritability, lack of concentration and health problems. For caregivers who may have these signs, the Alzheimer’s Center has a 24/7 Support Helpline:  (800) 272-3900.

If you want to know more about Alzheimer’s Community Resources and the effect on caregivers; you can call the Alzheimer’s Association at (800) 272-3900 or visit the website For information regarding Living Wills and Forms please call Ms. Jerry Ashley at (901) 415-3464 (Voicemail/leave message).  

The Memphis Center for independent Living sign and logo

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Accessible Bus Stops?

Please make plans to attend the Memphis Planning Office Bus Stop Access and Improvement Meeting

MATA operator and bus
On Wednesday, June 22 at 3:30 PM Municipal and County staff will be at The Memphis Center for Independent Living to hear your ideas about a better more accessible Memphis bus stops.

The Memphis MPO, in partnership with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA), has embarked on a new project that will ultimately lead to improvements in the quality of bus stops in the Greater Memphis Region. A common issue raised by the existing bus riders and heard by the Memphis MPO and MATA has been the current standards of MATA bus stops. Creation of the Guidelines is the first step in the process to ensure that MATA bus stops offer the highest comfort and accessibility for citizens who ride the bus.

This project will:

  1. Study existing bus stops on MATA routes and identify needed improvements to better accommodate needs of citizens.
  2. Develop a manual regarding improvements to existing bus stops. Such improvements could include seating options (incl. accommodation for people with disabilities), signage (including schedules, route information, and maps), lighting, etc.
  3. Develop basic engineering design for different types of bus stops, based on location and usage.
  4. Recommend better placement of bus stops along MATA routes.
  5. Recommend an implementation plan and schedule.

These analyses and recommendations will help MATA improve its existing system as well as better position it for potential future expansion.



JUNE 22, 2016 - 3:30PM – 4:30 PM

1. Welcome and Introductions

2. Overview and Purpose of Bus Stop Design and Accessibility Guidelines – Presentation

3. Guided Discussion

a. How can we make sure the Guide is most useful?

b. Which accessibility design features are most important?

4. Next Steps

Friday, June 10, 2016

MCIL Releases a Customer Survey of MATAplus

Passengers on a MATA bus The Memphis Center for Independent Living has completed a customer survey of the Memphis paratransit service, MATAplus that shows discrepancy in on-time performance. The survey followed the public transportation service for people with disabilities for three weeks and detailed reservations, pickup times and overall performance.

MATAplus is a shared-ride paratransit service designed to supplement regular transit services for persons with disabilities who are unable to use mainline bus service because of a disability. MATAplus is required by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to provide similar service to people with disabilities that have barriers to using the fixed-route or mainline bus system.

The advantage of the customer survey is that it accurately projects the user perspectives. MCIL choose to produce a customer survey because the information from the Memphis Area Transit Authority did not match the experience of the paratransit system riders. Likewise, the riders reported widely different experiences.

The survey notes that MATA does not provide complete information on the transit company's website and does not provide necessary information in an accessible format to customers. Blind MATAplus riders have only outdated information on paper and paratransit applications are not provided in an accessible format.

The survey also finds that riders do not make complaints and do not believe that MATA is responsive when they do complain. The survey appears to show that satisfaction with MATAplus service is not rigidly correlated with on-time performance. The survey found that when riders identified that the bus was not on-time, they still often reported overall satisfaction with MATAplus service. Similarly, not being able to make the first reservation that a patron requested did not tend to cause riders to be dissatisfied with the paratransit service. 

Read the Survey at: