Wednesday, September 30, 2009

$95,000 Settlement and Slap On The Wrist Not Enough!

Mental health association volunteer issues plea to Portland council
By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
September 30, 2009, 10:24AM

A volunteer with the Mental Health Association of Portland this morning urged the city council to press the Portland police chief to release the full internal inquiry into James P. Chasse Jr.'s death.

"Our organization and thousands of people in Portland believe injustice has prevailed, that a fair hearing on what happened to James Chasse has not occurred," Jason Renaud told the council.

Renaud's remarks come about two weeks after the third anniversary of Chasse's death in police custody on Sept. 17, 2006.

Last week, Chief Rosie Sizer announced that she found that a sergeant was the only one who violated policy in connection with the police arrest of Chasse, by failing to send Chasse to a hospital after police used a Taser stun gun on him. The officers who struggled with Chasse as they tried to take him into custody acted according to bureau policy, the chief found.

Chasse, 42, who suffered from schizophrenia, was knocked to the ground by police who said he ran from them when they approached because they saw him possibly urinating in the street. Chasse suffered 26 breaks to 16 ribs, some of which punctured his left lung. He died from blunt force trauma to the chest. He also suffered 46 separate abrasions or contusions on his body, including six to the head and 19 strikes to the torso. If he had been taken to a hospital right away, he likely would have survived, the state medical examiner testified during a deposition. Instead, he was taken to jail after ambulance medics said his vital signs were normal. The jail refused to book him, and police transported him to a hospital. He died on the way.

"What's occurred is impunity," Renaud said this morning. "The message delivered is a brutal beating and death of a person with a mental illness, even one with caregivers, friends, family, a home, a clean record, is acceptable within the Portland Police Bureau....It should be unacceptable to you."

Renaud also called on the council to take the three officers involved off the street; reduce the use of Tasers on people with mental illness; restart the Chief's Forum, a bi-monthly meeting between the police chief and community representatives that Sizer discontinued; press the state legislature for increased funding for mental health services; and establish ongoing public meetings between police senior staff and people with mental illness.

Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman had a previously scheduled appointment, and was not present during Renaud's talk. Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees the Office of Human Relations, said she'd work to improve police -community relations.

Mayor Sam Adams responded, telling Renaud, "We thank you for your thoughtful testimony."

Sgt. Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association, said afterwards that he supports Renaud's push for more police interaction with mental health advocates, and the release of the internal affairs inquiry, when it's possible considering the ongoing federal lawsuit against the police by Chasse's family.

But Westerman said Renaud and others should stop focusing on the three officers who were involved in the Chasse case. "The simple fact is based on our training, and the fact that these officers were found to have acted according to bureau policy, any three officers would have likely had the same outcome.''

"Autism Speaks" (For Themselves)

Have you seen the ad from "Autism Speaks" on tv? They seem to be working hard to hold back people with autism, along with their civil and human rights. There are many in the disability community (including me) who have taken issue with their message...

'Poetic' autism film divides campaigners

17:36 29 September 2009 by Celeste Biever

For similar stories, visit the Books and Art and The Human Brain Topic Guides

"I have no interest in right or wrong… I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams."

These words come from a short film called I Am Autism, which has sparked a spat between people with autism across the US and a charity that aims to represent them.

The film contains clips of children with autism and their parents backed by a voiceover that suggests autism has no morality and breaks apart families (read the transcript here). The charity Autism Speaks, based in New York, first screened the film on 22 September at its annual World Focus on Autism event.

I Am Autism was made by two fathers of children with autism: Billy Mann, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, music producer and Autism Speaks board member, and Alfonso CuarĂ³n, an Academy award-nominated film director. The narration is a "personal poem" written by Mann, says Marc Sirkin, chief community officer at Autism Speaks.

'Embarrassing and offensive'
But some people with autism say the film projects a damaging image of them. They are protesting online with a spoof video on YouTube and a Facebook group. A few have also taken to the streets to protest.

"This makes people afraid of us. What will people think about me and other autistics if they have watched this damaging video?" says Elesia Ashkenazy, director of the Portland, Oregon, chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy network (ASAN). She helped organise a protest against the video in Portland on 26 September.

Ari Ne'eman, president of ASAN, based in Washington DC, says the film is "embarrassing, offensive and inaccurate". "It has practical consequences," he says. For those with autism and looking for a job or a relationship, or trying to fit in at school, he says, "this adds to the fear and prejudice and stigma".

Ne'eman particularly objects to one segment of the video, in which the narrator, representing autism itself, says: "And if you're happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails."

Ne'eman points to a 2008 survey that contradicts this notion, carried out by the disabilities charity Easter Seals, based in Chicago, Illinois. Looking at 917 parents who have children without any special needs and 1652 parents whose children have an autism spectrum disorder, the survey found that that 30 per cent of parents of people with autism spectrum disorders were divorced, compared with 29 per cent of parents whose children didn't have special needs.

Profit motive?
Sirkin admits that he knows of "no evidence that having a child with autism spectrum disorder in the family leads to higher rates of divorce" but says the film is "a personal statement based on the viewpoint of the two parents who created the film".

Ne'eman also accuses the charity of using "fear and pity-mongering" to raise funds. Sirkin responds that Autism Speaks did not pay for the film to be made, and that the film is not intended as a fundraiser, only to raise awareness.

The soundtrack to the spoof online video, I Am Autism Speaks, goes, "I work hard to make people believe your children are suffering worse than cancer or AIDS victims," and, "Your money will fall into my hands and I will bankrupt you," and "Your advocates don't have the money to fight me."

Right to speak
Meanwhile the Facebook group page set up in protest against the film calls it "a grotesque travesty of a film, filled with falsehoods, bigotry and hate… It does not represent our views on autism and autistic people. It vilifies autistic people, and we will not stand for it."

Sirkin says this is all par for the course. "We have received both positive and negative feedback. Some parents have found the video inspiring and have thanked us for showing it. Others have been offended by it. We believe that all perspectives are valid and need to be heard and respected. No one perspective can ever be the definitive voice of autism."

Morton Gernsbacher, an autism researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the film could be destructive. "Any organisation that claims to support individuals with disabilities and those individuals' families should familiarise itself with the decades of research which has investigated the deleterious effects of fear-eliciting messaging," she says.

It's not the first time that Autism Speaks has provoked anger from people with autism. In 2008, the charity demanded that an autistic blogger take down a parody of its website because it infringed copyright. This sparked outrage from ASAN and many autistic bloggers.

I Am Autism: transcript of video

I am autism.

I'm visible in your children, but if I can help it, I am invisible to you until it's too late.

I know where you live, and guess what? I live there too. I hover around all of you.

I know no colour barrier, no religion, no morality, no currency. I speak your language fluently, and with every voice I take away, I acquire yet another language.

I work very quickly. I work faster than paediatric AIDS, cancer and diabetes combined.

And if you are happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails. Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain.

I don't sleep, so I make sure you don't either. I will make it virtually impossible for your family to easily attend a temple, a birthday party, a public park, without a struggle, without embarrassment, without pain.

You have no cure for me. Your scientists don't have the resources, and I relish their desperation.

Your neighbours are happier to pretend that I don't exist, of course, until it's their child. I am autism.

I have no interest in right or wrong. I derive great pleasure out of your loneliness. I will fight to take away your hope. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams.

I will make sure that every day you wake up, you will cry, wondering, "Who will take care of my child after I die?" And the truth is, I am still winning, and you are scared, and you should be.

I am autism.

You ignored me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Oregon Health Plan Implodes

Ok... so... how did this happen? As Ricky Ricardo would say; " have some 'splaining to do..."

MMIS Provider Alert - Friday, 9/25/09

Approximately 50,000-75,000 individuals were disenrolled from OHP managed care plans and put into fee-for-service ("open card") status. This occurred late last night or early this morning. Disenrollment occurred in all plans, all plan types, and in all areas of the state. DHS is working on reversing this today.

If at all possible, please continue to provide services to these individuals, even though they will not show as enrolled when you verify enrollment status through AVR or the Provider Web Portal.

DHS will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.

Rather than writing a new post, I'll just add this update here. I guess they only imploded for a little over 1 hour... Notice, now they've written in the time... alrighty...

MMIS Provider Resolution - 12:00 p.m.

DHS has corrected the disenrollment error reported earlier today. This only affected clients with a disenrollment date of 9/24/09. Any clients incorrectly disenrolled should now display as enrolled in their appropriate plan(s) on AVR and Provider Web Portal.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great News On Healthcare For People With Disabilities

Just In: Health Care Includes Community Choice!

From the ADAPT Community Choice Listserv (9/22/09):

The Community First Choice (CFC) Option has been included in the Chairman's Mark. This means that the CFC Option amendment offered by Senator Schumer is incorporated into the Senate Finance Committee bill and won't need to be debated or approved by the Committee.

Yes! You read that correctly! Yeah! Yippee!

Of course the language needs to be in the final version approved by the Committee and full Senate, but this is a HUGE step forward.

(Can you hear Dawn Russell in Denver screaming with joy?)

As we get more details, we will keep you informed, but it will be important to thank Senator Baucus (MT) and David Schwartz (from the Senate Finance staff) who made this happen. We also appreciate the efforts of Senator Schumer (NY) for submitting the CFC Option amendment and Senator Harkin, our Senate champion who has tirelessly fought to eliminate the institutional bias.

We have more work to do, but this a great step forward!

The cost of the CFC Option is estimated to be 1 billion dollar for 5 years. There is a sunset provision. This means that after the five years, Congress will need to go back and approve keeping the CFC Option in place. This should not be of any great concern one way or another at this point.

Another great feature of the Chairman's Mark language is that the MFP program would be modified to move the basic eligibility for MFP of needing to be in an institution for six months down to only needing to be in for 90 days.

Please contact your Senators and let them know that you support this language and that it is critical they keep it in the final version they approve. You can call using this toll-free number: 866-324-0787. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

Keep up the good work!
On behalf of the ADAPT Community,
Mike Oxford
Bruce Darling

Last Post Of Summer

This just became the hottest summer on record in the Portland area. What I mean by that, is that we just surpassed the number of days where the temperature was 90* or hotter from 23 days to 24 (today). I hope the fall is kinder to low income, developmentally disabled Portlanders, who must count on a mad man to get them some needed AC.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Healthcare for people with Disabilities

Here's a poignant view/writing about the issue from someone who knows what she's talking about...

We who need health care reform are real people, really suffering
by Marianne Hoynes

A couple of weeks ago, I in my wheelchair went to a NJ town hall meeting to learn more about the new health care bill. I thought this would be a good time to share with my congressman what it is like to be sick in America today.

I am on disability. I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjogren's Syndrome, two auto immune diseases, where my body sees my healthy connective and mucous tissue, mistakes them as unhealthy, and attacks them, causing irreversible damage. I spend half my day in a wheelchair because of degenerative disk disease.

The stress of living with chronic illness, waking up every morning in severe pain day after day, can drain me of hope. The financial stress added to that is almost unbearable. My disease is all but invisible, so I have to get expensive imaging tests to track its progress. Some medications are a thousand dollars plus a month.

Knowing every day, that I am the reason my family is being driven from middle class into poverty because of the cost of my health care , is a huge burden to bear.

We who need health care reform are real people, really suffering.

To my dismay, I entered a room filled with a screaming, angry mob, whose purpose was to shout down anyone who wanted to speak. My sense of right was stronger than my fear of sharing something personal and painful about my life in front of these bullies. They were not going to stop me from saying what I had to say.

I started with the terrible story of Kitty Genovese, murdered in the streets of NY in front of 38 witnesses, calling out for help, as they turned their backs on her. This was later defined as the "bystander effect"; a social phenomenon where individuals will not offer someone help during an emergency while others are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely they are to offer assistance. New Yorkers earned a bad reputation of being cold and uncaring.

This seemed a fitting analogy to the tens of millions of Americans who are being driven into poverty and homelessness because of catastrophic illness, while the world watches. What happens to the least of us in our society defines who we are as a nation. We were so ashamed to hear that story of Kitty Genovese. We as a society need to have more shame over how we treat the sick, physically and mentally challenged in this country. This could happen to any of you.

When I got sick, the health care and pharmaceutical industries strapped me on like a feed bag, and began sucking me dry of everything I worked hard for in my life. There is no regulation, no one to protect me from this extortion, no one to help me until I and my family become destitute and have to take charity, welfare, food stamps.

Reasonable health care is a basic human right in every developed nation in the world. Americans are the only ones who do not see it that way.

This country needs to see health care as a basic human right, not a privilege. And make no mistake, the world is watching. We, once a revered Superpower, are now becoming known as a nation who profits from its most vulnerable population, and treats its sick as a financial commodity, feeding from us until we are destitute. We need to allow our sick and disabled to live with some dignity, afford needed medication and treatment, much as we did once for our elderly. Anything less is inhumane.

How To Keep Poor People Poor

Man oh man... I wish with all my heart that the bureaucrats in this world could see how they would fare if they were making $8.40 per hour. The quotes in this article from show me that Brad Avakian has no idea. I think the truth in what he says about employers "breathing a little easier" is more to the point...

Oregon Minimum Wage Won't Change In 2010

Consumer prices have dropped; steady figure first since '02

From KTVZ.COM news sources

PORTLAND- Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announced Wednesday that the state's minimum wage will remain $8.40 next year.

Due to a decline of 1.48% in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from August 2008 to August 2009, the minimum wage will hold steady for the first time since Oregon voters enacted Ballot Measure 25 in 2002.

"Under the circumstances, a steady minimum wage is good for Oregon's businesses and working people," said Commissioner Avakian. "While the economy still struggles, workers will be able to continue taking care of their families while maintaining their purchasing power and contributing to the recovery."

"At the same time, employers who are in difficult financial situations can breathe a little easier because their labor costs will remain constant."

Oregon minimum wage law, codified in ORS 653.025, requires an annual adjustment based on inflation as measured by the CPI. The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) is charged with adjusting the minimum wage for inflation every September, rounded to the nearest five cents.

The law specifically ties Oregon's minimum wage to increases in the CPI, leaving no option for a reduced wage when the CPI declines.

Oregon is one of 10 states, with Washington, Vermont, Ohio, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Florida, Colorado, and Arizona, that annually adjusts the minimum wage based on inflation and the CPI.

A combination of factors, including local economic trends, the structure of state laws and the floor of the federal minimum wage, suggest that few, if any, decreased minimum wage rates will take effect next year.

The CPI, which is published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a measure of the average change in prices over time for a fixed "market basket" of goods and services, such as food, shelter, medical care, transportation fares and other goods and services people purchase for day-to-day living.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries works to protect the rights of workers and citizens to equal, nondiscriminatory treatment and encourages and enforces compliance with state laws relating to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.

In addition, the Bureau's Technical Assistance for Employers Unit exists to train employers to understand and comply with civil rights and other labor and employment laws. Updated minimum wage posters will be available from the bureau in December and can be downloaded from the agency's website,