Monday, April 7, 2014

REMINDER: Healthy PA Comments Due April 11! || Sent by the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania -

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is proposing a plan, “Healthy PA,” which would cut services to people currently receiving Medicaid services so that private health insurance coverage can be provided to low-income people who are currently uninsured.  Pennsylvania’s Healthy PA application is now with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for review.
Healthy PA would negatively impact people with disabilities, so it is very important to submit comments.
The Healthy PA plan can be can be found here.
Comments are due by April 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM.  Every comment matters.  Instructions on sending comments are included at the end of this alert. 

Tell CMS that Healthy PA should be rejected because:

  • Current Medicaid recipients, including people with disabilities, would have their benefits cut.  Necessary equipment such as wheelchairs, speech-generating devices and oxygen tanks would be limited to either $2,500 or $1,000 per year depending on the plan (Low or High Risk Plan). Tests such as x-rays, MRIs, and lab work would be limited. Inpatient hospitalizations, including rehab and psychiatric stays, would be limited. Outpatient treatment for mental health and substance abuse would also be limited.  Without necessary services, people will be at risk of institutionalization.  


  • Successful programs, such as Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), would end.  MAWD allows people with disabilities to work and still receive their Medical Assistance (Medicaid) services. Without Medicaid, many people currently receiving MAWD would be left without any affordable option for health insurance coverage. Lack of coverage would result in medical debt, worsening of medical conditions or institutionalization.


  • People with low incomes would have to pay monthly premiums.  People with incomes above 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($972.50/month for an individual and $1,987.50/month for a family of four) would be required to pay a monthly premium for coverage through Medicaid or Private Coverage.


  • People would lose coverage for failure to make premium payments.  Coverage through Medicaid or the Private Option would be cancelled for non-payment of the premium for three consecutive months. Lack of coverage could result in medical debt or worsening of medical conditions.

Comments are due by April 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM.  Comments on the “Healthy Pennsylvania Private Coverage Option Demonstration” can be submitted online or emailed  Comments may also be mailed to:  Megan Stacy, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Mailstop: S2-01-16, Baltimore, Maryland 21244. Every comment matters.
Contact:  Kelly Whitcraft, DRN Policy Coordinator, or 800-692-7443, extension 323.

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Healthy PA Alert on Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities Program Elimination

Sent by the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania -

Friends -

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is proposing a plan, “Healthy PA”, that can be found here.  Healthy PA would cut services to people currently receiving Medicaid services so that private health insurance coverage can be provided to low-income people who are currently uninsured. 
Pennsylvania’s Healthy PA application is now with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a review and federal input period.  Comments are due to CMS by April 11, 2014 at 6a.m.  Instructions on sending comments are included at the end of this alert. 
Healthy PA would also eliminate the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program.  MAWD provides Medicaid health insurance for people with disabilities who do not meet the general resource and income requirements for Medicaid, typically because they are working.  MAWD provides vital services to recipients so they can maintain their health, remain in a community setting, and continue working.  The elimination of MAWD would impact around 34,000 Pennsylvanians, many of whom will be left without an affordable option for health care outside of the Medicaid system.
Lack of coverage would result in medical debt, worsening of medical conditions or institutionalization.
CMS needs to hear from you.  Pennsylvania should not be permitted to end the MAWD program through Healthy PA.  Comments are due by April 11, 2014 at 6:00a.m.  Every comment matters. 
Comments on the “Healthy Pennsylvania Private Coverage Option Demonstration” can be submitted online or emailed  Comments may also be mailed to:  Megan Stacy, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Mailstop:  S2-01-16, Baltimore, Maryland 21244. Every comment matters.
Contact:  Kelly Whitcraft, DRN Policy Coordinator, or 800-692-7443, extension 323.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Via DRNPA: DASH Workshop: Media Advocacy

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Most people get their information and often form opinions based on reports from the news media—newspapers, television and radio. Successful advocacy groups know how to work with the media to deliver their messages and educate members of their communities, as well as policy makers and key decision makers. Marie Yeager, an Emmy Award winning television news producer and communications consultant, will help workshop participants learn to use media to attain your goals.

You will learn:

  1. How to write a news release

  2. Tips for working with the media

  3. How to formulate your message and educate the community

You can participate in this training on your phone, your personal computer, or at a Harrisburg site.

To Register or for more information,

Go to the DASH website at or

Contact Lan Do @, 800-692-7443 x312

TTY 1-877-375-7139 Fax: 717-236-0192

Requests for accommodations must be made during registration.

This project is funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This week, the Corbett administration submitted its Medicaid waiver request to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for permission to implement Healthy Pennsylvania, a five-year Medicaid demonstration project. Healthy Pennsylvania seeks to provide access to health care to approximately 500,000 additional people through private insurance plans while implementing significant changes to Pennsylvania’s current Medical Assistance program. 

In response to hearings held across the state and over 1,000 written comments, there have been a number of changes from the original proposal. PHLP is still reviewing the plan in detail, but changes from the December 2013 draft include:                                                

  • Premiums for those earning above 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) will bepostponed until 2016.
  • For recipients earning less than 100 percent of FPL, premium requirements have been dropped indefinitely. Work requirements will begin in 2015, but failure to comply will not result in benefits being stopped until 2016.
  • Limits on primary care visits have been eliminated.

The proposal still calls for the elimination of Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD), and places new limits on mental health, drug and alcohol, lab testing services, and durable medical equipment. The Corbett administration has also stood firm in maintaining a work requirement for allHealthy Pennsylvania recipients who do not qualify for an exemption. 

CMS has up to 15 days to review the waiver request and there is another 30-day public comment period at the federal level. The waiver application and an executive overview are available from the Department of Public Welfare.

Friday, February 21, 2014 Wednesday, February 19, 2014 Monday, January 13, 2014 Friday, January 10, 2014



Sent by the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania -

Friends -

The Department of Public Welfare is proposing “Healthy PA,” which would (1) cut benefits for adults on Medicaid (Medical Assistance), and (2) provide private insurance coverage for other uninsured adults, without the rights and protections of Medicaid. 
The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania has submitted comments to the Department of Public Welfare on Healthy PA and also testified at public hearings by DPW earlier this month.  Please feel free to use portions of the letter in drafting your own comments. You can view the comments here and view the testimony hereComments are due this Monday, January 13. 
Email comments to or mail them to:  Department of Public Welfare, Attention:  Healthy Pennsylvania Waiver, P.O. Box 2675, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675.  Persons with a disability who require an auxiliary aid or service may submit comments using the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at 800-654-5984 (TDD users) or 800-654-5988 (voice users).  Every comment matters.
Thank you,
Disability Rights Network (DRN) of PA
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg
TTY: 1-877-375-7139
Visit us online at:

So because of how my housing voucher works I’m required to recieve MH treatment. I am not allowed to stop going without losing my housing. Under this they are limiting the number of MH sessions I can have per year, which means that if I run out I’m at risk of losing my housing because I can’t afford it. It also could mean that because my SSI puts me at more than 50% of the poverty limit I’ll have to pay a premium to receive medical assistance OUT OF MY SSI which pays less than $700/mo. This is in addition to co-pays, limited lab work (which I need a lot of because of medical/chronic health issues), and being completely screwed if I have a major break on a psych issue and agree to be hospitalized- or if someone decides to hospitalize me against my will. I basically won’t be able to afford to be on SSI in PA if a crisis happens if this passes as is. 

Here’s how my mom shared this on FB: “Pennsylvanians! If you receive Disability and are over 21, benefits are going to be cut, mental health is being slashed and there will be caps on services . I do not understand how Governor Corbett can call this “Healthy PA” when our most vulnerable populations are being underserved. If you live in PA, you probably know someone who will be affected. This was slid in around the holidays, so most folks do not know about this. Comment period ends soon, January 13. Speak up before it is too late! And share.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Person Driven Services and Supports Public Forum

Are you a person with a disability who wants more control of your life?


You are invited to a public forum to tell us about your experiences in directing your own services.  This public forum is provided by the Disability Rights Network of PA, in partnership with the Person Driven Services and Supports (PDSS) Coalition.  We want your input on how we can improve service options to help people remain in their communities and out of institutions.  PDSS Coalition will share with you information and strategies for what we are doing to improve service options.  We want to know if you want to fight for consumer control; if you want more control over your services; and if you do, let’s talk about how we get there.
DATE: January 22, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Erie – Voices for Independence, 1107 Payne Avenue
Harrisburg – Disability Rights Network of PA, 1414 N. Cameron Street, 2nd Floor
Philadelphia – Vision for EQuality, 718 Arch Street, 6N
New Castle – Disability Options Network, 1929 East Washington Street, Suite 1
St. Marys – Community Education Council, 4 Erie Avenue, Suite 200
Scranton – Advocacy Alliance, 841 Jefferson Avenue
When people with disabilities control their own services and supports, they decide what they need and have the flexibility to buy what they need.  They hire and manage their workers; they move hours and supports to fit their needs.  They direct their services!  Join us and see how you can make it real!
To register and for accommodations, please contact Lan Do at Ldo@drnpa.org800-692-7443 x312, TTY 1-877-375-7139, Fax: 717-236-0192.
If you are unable to attend the forum and want to tell us about your experience, please mail, email, or fax us your story to:
Disability Rights Network of PA c/o Lan Do
1414 N. Cameron Street, Second Floor
Harrisburg, PA  17103
This forum is made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.

Click here for a PDF version

Monday, December 16, 2013

So I got the following email, and I wanted to pass it on on the chance that some PA people will be interested in filling it out. I especially want to encourage those who have feelings about the current system of removal of kids if the parents have any substance use/abuse issues to reply.

A lot of kids get yanked for their parent’s minor substance use even when it hasn’t had a negative impact on their parenting. I’m not saying it can’t- substance abuse can definitely result in negative parenting outcomes- but the negative impacts aren’t universal, particularly for all substances. Substances here include alcohol, marijuana, and harder substances like cocaine or Meth. 

The state of PA doesn’t distinguish between minor or even medical marijuana use and the use of harder, life threatening substances like Meth on these issues. They barely distinguish alcohol use. and if you have ANY trace of marijuana or another substance in your system that comes up on the standard screen when you give birth, you can say goodbye to your newborn. Not even if you have MJ in your system from medical use in a state where it’s legal- if you give birth in PA and it’s in your system, they treat it as bad as if you came in completely tweaked out as far as your parental rights go.

(Youth in the survey is probably under 25 but you could stretch it a little bit).

I am sending this on behalf of the State Roundtable’s Drug and Alcohol Workgroup, co-chaired by Wendy Hoverter, Cumberland County CYS Administrator, and the Honorable Jonathan Mark, Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County. The Workgroup is requesting your assistance in completing and distributing a short survey aimed at gathering statewide, multi-disciplinary information regarding substance abuse.

As you know, substance abuse is a serious concern in child welfare cases. By some estimates almost two-thirds of child welfare cases involve drugs and alcohol. To explore and begin to address this complex issue, the State Roundtable has commissioned a Drug and Alcohol Workgroup. Together with the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, the Drug and Alcohol Workgroup has created this short survey to assess current values about drugs and alcohol in Pennsylvania. Statewide information about substance abuse values is scarce and this will be the first step in gathering critical data. Results of the survey will be used to increase collaboration between courts, child welfare, drug and alcohol, and service providing agencies on a local and state level, ultimately improving the delivery of services to children and families in all communities.

Since this is the first attempt to collect information of this kind, it is vital that the Workgroup receives as many responses as possible from a variety of different sources. Please help us by forwarding the link for this survey as widely as possible (i. e. Children’s Roundtable Members, Children and Youth Services, Court and Legal System, County Service Providers, Contracted Service Providers, Purchased Kinship/Foster/Congregate Care Providers, Foster Parents, Criminal Justice Advisory Board, Youth Advisory Board, Child Death Review Teams, Juvenile Justice, Advocacy Centers, School Systems, Corrections, Medical Professionals, Hospitals, and other persons interested in children and families) asking them to have their staff – from administrative support staff to upper level management – take the survey prior to December 31, 2013.

The survey is short. It should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. But the information collected will be invaluable in our efforts to make recommendations that will positively impact the lives of children and families.

Click on the link below to go to the survey:

Again, on behalf of Wendy, Judge Mark and the entire Workgroup, I thank you for your assistance.

Sandra Moore, Administrator
Office of Children & Families in the Courts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Venango County Zombie Walk is tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon is the zombie walk! Bring some non-perishable pet goods, eat cookies, drink drink, spook people, play dress up, get judged, receive prizes, and have fun- all for a spookily good cause!

4pm start time- come a bit early for help with your makeup! The walk will be wheelchair accessible, and there will be both wheelchairs and strollers available for those who need them. 

We will have drinks and lots of cookies- including some GF options!!!- thanks to our community donors.  Music will be played thanks to Robert Wagner who is going to DJ. 

There will be costume judging, and winners will win a trophy and possibly some spooky prizes! 

Come on up to the Cranberry Mall in Venango County, PA, and support our county’s humane society while having a spook-tacular time!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dental issues, pain, and a broken system

I have multiple major dental issues right now, including abscesses, that will require root canals. At LEAST one of them is due to my dentist- who I love being around, he’s cool- screwing up my teeth. Most of it started as a combination of having inherited both soft teeth (bio dad) and grinding my teeth (mom) and having ADLS deficits. but neglect to treat things when they started by one dentist and poor work from another has led to things being pretty serious.

(BTW, if you want to help encourage me in improving some of my self ID’d ADLS stuff, check out my Health Month Profile. You can also watch the charts tracking my progress. And next month I’ll need another Sponsor so I can have more than 3 goals- this month I have a Kimberly W to thank.)

In any case, We’ve known I’ve needed the first root canal for what will be two months next week. The second we’ve known about for about a month. I’ve been on a number of antibiotics and things in the mean time. But in PA, when you are on medical assistance you need pre-approval from their offices for root canals and the like. And that can take months. Which, in my case, it is. And it is creating larger and larger issues. 

In any case, this past week has been intense to say the least. At the JRC rally & March on saturday, I took so much tylenol I vomited. Thursday before, I took more than 12k of Naproxen, and was still in pain. I’m at a point where I’m essentially doing serious damage to my stomach and possibly liver if I try to use over the counter pain meds. 

Today and Yesterday, I haven’t been able to eat properly. I had A sandwich and a couple bites of soup all day yesterday. Today thus far I’ve had half a serving of rice noodles. 

I’m currently at my Aunt Lisa’s, and Yesterday we did the try-every-home-remedy thing. Clove oil only helps on a very temporary basis. We did the tea bag thing, and that didn’t work. So I packed my gums with raw crushed garlic, and that helped enough to eat that sandwich, and another application let me fall asleep last night. I’m not entirely sure why it helped, but it did. but packing my gums with raw garlic all the time isn’t workable. 

However, Medical Assistance- which is what I have- doesn’t transfer out of state. I don’t know why, other than an assumption that poor people can’t travel ever, or that we become magically immune to health issues and needs when visiting family. I don’t know. But it’s fantastically screwy. 

We had to get a pharamcist to call the Dentist and convince him that he actually *can* send a script across state lines. He thought he couldn’t. He can, I just can’t have MA pay for it here. So he sent over the next step up of antibiotics- making this course 4- and a perscription pain killer. Which, unfortunately, is not completely getting rid of the pain. It’s helping- I’m not forcing myself from screaming any more- but it’s still pretty damn intense. 

My options are basically the ER. There really aren’t other options under the current system for me apparently. Not for this issue. 

You have to reach crisis point- a more expensive treatment option- for them to care. To get any treatment. And the reason for the beaurocratic nightmare that the MA system is currently? 

"We are trying to save the tax payers money!" 

By waiting until only the more expensive options are available? really? I sometimes really think that the real hope is that us poor folk will just kill ourselves in order to “un-burden” the rest of the state. The poor- or at least our well being- are expendables in this society. Particularly under this governor’s administration, but in general as well. 

I”m sorry, I’m angry and in pain. And I think, Wow. I’m not the only one effected by this. There are other people in this system, some of whom have fewer “natural” supports available. 

I can’t fathom how people can believe that this system is ever effective. I mean, I’ve tracked people’s reasons, but I can’t connect how those reasons could make sense. I’m not asking to have it explained- I’ve been trying for years to understand this general type of phenomena- it’s just that that sort of thinking seems so wrong and bizarre that I *can’t* get it. I don’t have it in me.

Between this and the whole housing bru-ha-ha, I have some super critical posts for my blog-blog at some point. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Friday, 1/20(the 2nd Anniversary of the “Citizens United” decision, Occupy Pittsburgh will hold a permitted  protest  Action against “Citizens United” and Corporate corruption of our government and body politick. We’ll have a permitted rally Friday, 1/20 at  4pm,  in Market Square.
 Then  we’ll got to nearby PPG and posting, ceremoniously and theatrically, a Peoples’ Bill of Indictment for environmental crimes(toxic pools)
\Mdavis as well as a People’s Subpoena for their ” Certificate of Live Birth”, underscoring that they don’t have any, and so, should not have “free speech” rights to unlimited financial contributions, which corrupt our government and body politick.
  Then we can proceed to 625 Liberty Ave., location of gas-fracking, EQT’s Headquarters and do the same there…
Then we can proceed up 6th Ave.,  to financial criminal BNY Mellon and posting, ceremoniously, a Peoples Bill of Indictment for their crimes against the people, as well as a People’s Subpoena for their “Certificate of Live Birth”.
Then, we can proceed to the Federal Courthouse to rally for a “Move To Amend” the Constitution to undo the “Citizens United” decision. ….
We’re going to be busy, with a dynamic, vociferous, rather than a static event , so folks are encouraged to arrive  early, promptly, 4pm Market Square, Pittsburgh to protest against Corporate take-over of our government, Corporate corruption and pollution. And for an amendment to overturn the infamous “Citizens United” decision.
Visit the web site.