Communications from SPW

Outside the “Box”: Living the ADA

Carol Gill and Larry Voss in 2015. Both had polio very early in life and use wheelchairs
Carol Gill and her husband, Larry Voss, in 2015. Both had polio very early in life and use wheelchairs

“If you wanted to go anywhere you had to plan ahead, even if it was just to the drugstore. Participating in society – going to a theatre, a restaurant – everything was hit or miss.”

That’s Carol Gill, remembering life before the Americans with Disabilities Act, which turned 25 years old this month.

“You went into a store,” she recalls, “and the aisles were too narrow. And people would give you a ‘dull look’ when you’d point out the aisles were not accessible.”

Continue reading “Outside the “Box”: Living the ADA”

Illinois Dodges Disaster on Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling

ACA rally in front of Supreme Court. Signs read Obamacare Awesome, and Protecting Our CareIllinois just dodged a bullet with the outcome of King v. Burwell. If the Supreme Court had ruled against subsidies being challenged in the case, working people and families in the state collectively would have lost more than $49 million a month to help purchase health insurance.

In its decision, the court affirmed the legality of the provision of premium tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in all states, whether they established their own health insurance marketplace or used the federal marketplace. Continue reading “Illinois Dodges Disaster on Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling”

Skip the Platitudes – Honoring Families of the Fallen

Jim Frazier saluting flag
Jim Frazier salutes at a Memorial Day ceremony Photo by Stacey Wescott courtesy of Chicago Tribune

“I never know what to say to the families,” the general said. He was a four-star general in charge of a large Air Force base. But he was – as so of us many are – stumped by this simple human problem: what words to speak when confronted with a wife or husband or parent or a sibling of a service member who had lost their life. And I said, “General, it’s really pretty simple. Use their names. If you know the name, say ’Tell me something about ___.’ And then shut up. And listen.”

The person recalling this is Jim Frazier, a Gold Star dad who works with the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services program. Since losing his own son in Afghanistan, Jim has spent more than a decade helping families of military casualties.

“One of the premises I start with” in working with bereaved families, he says, is that “all we have is memories. People we’ve lost live in our memories, and that way in our hearts.”

Continue reading “Skip the Platitudes – Honoring Families of the Fallen”

Introducing the Healthy Chicago Hospital Collaborative

Thumbnail of a Chicago hospital community area mapHDA and the Chicago Department of Public Health have partnered to create a new initiative that hopes to maximize the health benefits and services that Chicago hospitals can bring to their communities.

Under the Affordable Care Act, charitable nonprofit hospitals are required to conduct community health Needs assessments and to implement community health improvement plans. The collaborative hopes to help hospitals better improve services for the populations they serve by working together and with other partners to implement plans that address common priorities identified in their assessments.

Continue reading “Introducing the Healthy Chicago Hospital Collaborative”

Rauner’s Budget is Bad Medicine for State’s Health Services

Gov. Rauner. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The much-anticipated “turnaround budget” from Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner feels more like a “look back,” parading out failed ideas from past years. Rauner says this budget “preserves services to the state’s most vulnerable residents”—but a quick review suggests this is far from true. Instead, we see a budget that:

• Further decimates a fragile community mental health system
• Reduces access to lifesaving drugs for people living with HIV and prevention services for those at risk of HIV
• De-funds critical substance-abuse treatments
Continue reading “Rauner’s Budget is Bad Medicine for State’s Health Services”

“Success Story” Jenny Lay-Flurrie Honored by White House

Jenny Lay-Flurrie leads an innovative technology team at Microsoft despite having been deaf almost her entire life. She was recently named one of the 2014 White House “Champions of Change.” She was recognized as “an example of someone who is not only able to accommodate her disability in the workplace, but was able to turn a disability into an asset.” Continue reading ““Success Story” Jenny Lay-Flurrie Honored by White House”

Boosting Employment for People with Disabilities

Medicare and Medicaid - The Next 50 YearsAs an individual with a disability, HDA’s Joe Entwisle has unique insights into the public and private systems that Social Security Disability Insurance supports. He recently joined a panel of experts to discuss the future of the SSDI trust fund, whose dwindling reserves threaten the social safety net.

“Supporting Work: Strategies to Boost Employment for People with Disabilities” was a roundtable organized by the National Academy for Social Insurance. Continue reading “Boosting Employment for People with Disabilities”

Does Your Cab Driver Have Health Insurance? Why Not Ask…

Yellow cab in the rainIn his State of the Union address, President Obama called on us all to remember that citizenship “demands a sense of common purpose… an obligation to serve our communities.” He went on to challenge us on how we exercise the “spirit of citizenship.” Today I started my own personal journey towards a “spirit of citizenship” by actually engaging with people I encounter everyday on health insurance. On this cold day, I started with cab drivers.

Fortunately, I was able to tell them about a new initiative of Enroll Chicago that is targeting cab drivers. Continue reading “Does Your Cab Driver Have Health Insurance? Why Not Ask…”

ACA: More Than Just Healthcare for People With Disabilities

For people with disabilities finding a job has always been a one-two punch. It’s not just the salary and financial independence they’re looking for; they also are in greater need of health benefits than say, a nondisabled 30-year old.

October 1 marks the first day that people with disabilities can finally get both needs met. Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, many of the barriers to private health care for persons with disabilities will disappear. Americans can now shop for benefits in the new health insurance marketplace, for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

For the first time ever, people with disabilities cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, denied particular services or charged more for coverage based on their health status. Continue reading “ACA: More Than Just Healthcare for People With Disabilities”