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Disability Advocacy Day 2018
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
One John Nolen Drive,  Madison, WI

Make certain your voice is heard! Disability Advocacy Day is designed to connect you with your legislators so you can talk about issues that matter to you. You are the expert in sharing how legislative policies affect people with disabilities in their everyday lives.
Registration will open in February.

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ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to Keep Kids Covered
Date Posted: Thursday, January 11, 2018

Over 100 days have passed since Congress let funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expire, creating uncertainty for families across the country who depend on the program for health coverage. Lawmakers agreed to a short-term extension late last month as part of a plan to keep the government open, but that agreement is set to expire next week. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates a bipartisan, bicameral extension proposal currently under consideration, the KIDS Act (S.1827), will save the government $6 billion over a 10 year period. Unfortunately, partisan politics continues to wreak havoc on the process.

Meanwhile, many states are already issuing termination notices to program beneficiaries worried about the threat of losing access to care. Without a permanent agreement, states will exhaust CHIP funding resources leaving 9 million low and middle-income children nationwide, many of whom live with autism and other disabilities, uninsured.

Please contact your senators and representatives (202-224-3121) today and urge them to #ExtendCHIP. Each day CHIP reauthorization remains unresolved threatens essential health coverage for children nationwide.

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Survival Coalition Testimony against AB693 – the “Teacher Protection Act”
Thursday, January 11, 2018

 
Chairperson Ott and Assembly Committee on Judiciary Members:

The Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations is comprised of over 30 statewide groups representing people with all disabilities and all ages, their family members, advocates and providers of disability services. Organizations in our coalition represent and work with students with disabilities and their families across the state and are concerned about the ramifications for students with disabilities if this legislation is enacted. We feel strongly passing this bill would be a step backwards in educating and protecting the rights of students with disabilities.
All teachers and students deserve a safe environment in which to teach and learn. Unfortunately, the measure does not address improving safety through providing needed supports, services, staffing levels, and professional development. Special education funding has remained flat for almost a decade creating more unmet needs for students with disabilities. Instead, the proposal would occasion the following harmful effects:
 Infringing on student privacy rights
 Encouraging ineffective, punitive responses to disability-related behavior
 Creating detrimental linkages between out-of-school incidents and school records
 Expanding the “school to prison pipeline”
 Undermining the administrative chain of command, potentially placing teachers,
administrators, and school boards at odds over established policy
 Compromising due process rights regarding suspension for students with disabilities
 Disproportionately affecting students with disabilities and mental health challenges
 Disproportionately affecting students of color
 Imposing unnecessary reporting categories for suspension and expulsion

We appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony and ask that you do not support AB693.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Survival Co-Chairs:
Maureen Ryan, moryan@charter.net; (608) 444-3842;
Beth Swedeen, beth.swedeen@wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-1166;
Kristin M. Kerschensteiner, kitk@drwi.org; (608) 267-0214
Lisa Pugh, pugh@thearc.org; (608) 422-4250

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ACTION ALERT: Testify against AB693 – the “Teacher Protection Act”
Public Hearing in the Assembly Judiciary Committee at the State Capitol building in Madison
Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Has your child ever responded to anxiety or overwhelming stress at school with a meltdown that included hitting or kicking or pushing? Do you work with or care about students who struggle with such mental health-related behavior difficulties?
Under the so-called “Teacher Protection Act,” AB693, authored by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), any adult at school who saw such an incident could request that the principal report your child to law enforcement for assault – and the principal would have to do it, whether or not the behavior was disability-related.
Rather than improving safety by providing needed supports and services, the bill would impose consequences which already have serious negative impacts on students with mental health challenges and other disabilities: suspension and increased law enforcement involvement in school discipline.
Hearing notice is online at http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1417290

ACTION STEP: Testify against the “Teacher Protection Act” (AB693)

In Person: Thursday, January 11, 9:00 AM in North Hearing Room (2nd Floor North) at the State Capitol building in Madison. Testimony will likely be limited to 2 minutes.
Via Email: Send testimony to Rep.OttJ@legis.wisconsin.gov as well as to your own legislators. Find your legislators’ contact information at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

Your testimony could include points such as:
• How it could impact your child, or children you serve, if teachers were encouraged to report disability-related behavior to law enforcement and increase suspensions.
• To improve safety for students with mental health challenges and their teachers, we should provide supports and services and training to meet their needs. The new school mental health funding in the state budget was welcome but the need is far greater.
• Students with mental health challenges are already over-represented in the juvenile justice system, and AB693expands mandatory reporting to law enforcement without taking disability-related behavior into account. Wisconsin already has the 3rd-highest rate in the nation of school referral of students with disabilities to law enforcement; AB693 would result in even more criminalization of disability-related behaviors.
• Suspension does nothing to teach students to improve their social and emotional skills, yet children with emotional/ behavioral disabilities in Wisconsin are suspended at a rate 11 times that of their non-disabled peers. AB693 would encourage increased use of suspension.
• AB693 risks student privacy rights by expanding school access to juvenile arrest records, requiring law enforcement to inform schools about off-campus incidents involving students before the student has been found guilty or not guilty.

AB693 is online at https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/ab693.pdf

Questions?  Contact Joanne Juhnke, Wisconsin Family Ties Policy Director, joanne@wifamilyties.org

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Department of Health Services is Mailing IRS 1095-B Tax Forms for 2017

The Department of Health Services (DHS) is mailing IRS 1095-B tax forms to members who had minimum essential coverage from a State of Wisconsin health care program in 2017. Some examples of State of Wisconsin health care programs that provide minimum essential coverage include BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid for the Elderly, Blind or Disabled. Health care programs such as Family Planning Only Services or SeniorCare are not considered minimum essential coverage.

Members who are filing taxes should use the 1095-B tax form to answer health care coverage questions on their tax return. Most members who had minimum essential coverage will receive a 1095-B tax form by early February 2018. Only members who had minimum essential coverage from a State of Wisconsin health care program in 2017 will receive a form.

DHS is also required to send copies of members’ 1095-B tax forms directly to the IRS.

Members who have questions about the 1095-B tax form can call the Wisconsin 1095-B form assistance line at 1-866-667-9419. The Wisconsin 1095-B form assistance line does not provide tax advice. For tax advice, members should work with a tax professional.

The following are additional resources with 1095-B tax form and tax information:

Cover letter and 1095-B tax form sample
IRS 1095-B Tax Form Frequently Asked Questions web page from DHS
Information from healthcare.gov about exemptions from the minimum essential coverage requirement

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Autistic Self Advocacy Network
ASAN Condemns Passage of Tax Bill

ASAN strongly condemns the final passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a tax giveaway for corporations and the wealthiest Americans which comes at great cost to the disability community. This law will take away health care from an estimated 13 million people. By drastically reducing tax revenue, it sets the stage for massive cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, and other essential services that allow people with disabilities to live good lives in our communities. The disability community cannot afford these cuts. For those who will lose access to lifesaving care and basic services, the price of this law is far too high.

Ignoring the clear will of the American people, the final version of TCJA repeals the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has helped to make insurance more affordable, especially for people with disabilities. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 13 million people will lose access to affordable coverage as a result. Nonetheless, despite the loss of the individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act itself remains the law of the land. ASAN will fight to mitigate the impact of this decision, and will continue to work to implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that people with disabilities, our families, and all people have access to comprehensive and affordable health care.

Both the Administration and Congressional leadership have stated repeatedly in recent weeks that, to pay for these tax breaks, they will once again move to cut basic programs and services. The disability community is facing a full-scale attack. Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security will all be on the chopping block – but this battle is far from over. We call on the disability community to mobilize for the fight for our lives.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.

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Autistic Self Advocacy Network
ACI 2018 Applications Now Open

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is now accepting applications for the 2018 Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Leadership Academy! The ACI summer leadership training prepares Autistic students to engage in disability advocacy on their college campuses. Accepted applicants will travel to Washington, DC and participate in advocacy training from June 16th to June 23rd, 2018. Participants will acquire valuable skills in community organizing, policy formation, and activism. Travel and lodging are fully covered by ASAN.

Applicants must identify as Autistic and be current college students with at least one year remaining before graduation. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network will cover travel and lodging costs for all ACI students. Students in TPSID programs (Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities), 2-year community colleges, 4-year colleges, and graduate school are eligible to apply. We especially encourage students of color, LGBT students, low-income students, students with intellectual disabilities, AAC users, and students from other or multiply marginalized communities to apply.

To apply, please submit a completed application by Sunday, February 25th, 2018 to Reid Caplan at rcaplan@autisticadvocacy.org.

If you need assistance or accommodations at any stage, or have any questions about ACI, please contact Reid Caplan at rcaplan@autisticadvocacy.org.

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Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Cost-of-Living Adjustment Information for 2018

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will have a cost-of-living increase of 2 percent in 2018.

The cost-of-living increase is set by the federal government and will result in changes to the income levels, allowances, and deductions for members enrolled in Medicaid for the Elderly, Blind, or Disabled. The changes will be processed in December 2017 and impact February 2018 benefits.

For more information, see the Social Security Administration’s 2018 Social Security Changes fact sheet and the Cost-of-Living Adjustment Information for 2018 webpage. Information about specific income levels, allowance, and deductions can be found in Operations Memo 17-56, titled “2018 Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for Medicaid for the Elderly, Blind, or Disabled.”