By Steve Gold
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued its Proposed Rules, which define what it means to live in “a home and community-based setting.” See 77 Federal Register at 26382. We think it is important for your voices to be heard and your comments must be submitted and received before 7/2/12.
While some disability advocates have responded to CMS previously regarding the same issue, many providers and other service entrepreneurs (for profit and not-for-profit) have a different view regarding what “home and community-based setting” means. CMS, instead of just doing the right thing, seems to have gotten frightened by the outpouring from the providers and has requested additional comments.
In a thumbnail, we always thought that people with disabilities want to live in settings just like people without disabilities with the same rights and responsibilities. What a revolutionary idea! Hmmm. Here are some points you might want to include if you write to CMS
- Nondisabled people do not have their housing conditioned on whether or not they accept services.Therefore, housing rights for people with disabilities should be entirely separated from services that a person may or may not want, need or desire without any conditions related to services.
- Nondisabled people are afforded the protections (and assume the responsibilities) from eviction under your State’s landlord tenant law.Therefore, disabled people should have the same rights, protections and responsibilities under your State’s landlord tenant law.
- Nondisabled people, wherever they reside, have an absolute right, wherever they reside to the following minimum rights.Therefore, if a person with a disability resides in a “provider-owned or controlled residential setting,” the following minimum rights should be required no “wiggle room,” no “if, and, or buts,” no presumptions of any kind that undercut or infringe on these minimums:
- A lease under the State’s landlord tenant law protecting against illegal evictions.
- Privacy in sleeping and living units. This means a lockable entrance.
- Sharing units ONLY if person with disability freely and knowingly wants to share and with person of one’s choice.
- Right to decorate sleeping and living units.
- Control own schedules and access to food at any time.
- Visitors of their choosing at any time.
- Physically accessible.
Nondisabled persons would not consider it a “home” if they did not have ALL of these protections.
Tell CMS no restrictions of basic housing rights for persons with disabilities. Tell CMS not to fund services in settings which do not comply.
Are we missing something? Aren’t these basic, minimal human rights? What does it matter if the person is disabled or nondisabled?
Advocates — send your comments to:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Dept. of Health and Human Services
Baltimore, MD 21244-8016
These must be received before July 2, 2012.
– Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues
Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at: http://www.stevegoldada.com with a searchable Archive at this site divided into different subjects. As of August 2010, Information Bulletins will also be posted on my blog located at: http://stevegoldada.blogspot.com/
Bus Rapid Transit a disappointment to Boulder
By Tim Wheat
CPWD staff and advocates had the chance to see a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicle yesterday at the Boulder Library. The Center was optimistic that BRT would be realistic and accessible transportation for our area; however as we saw the bus only the thing that became clear is all the compromises that RTD imposes on the disability community.
Most residents seem to be upset by the compromise of BRT instead of a train. One reason that RTD may be touring the area with the thing is because they think it looks like a train, but riders are not fooled. The Boulder newspaper’s headline reflected the general disappointment of the community: “Boulder commuters not enthusiastic about RTD’s model Bus Rapid Transit vehicle.”
For the disability community however, the low-floor vehicle can be a great improvement over the current over-the-road buses. Without having to be hoisted up over three feet, boarding and disembarking can be a lot easier and much quicker. The low-floor is a great improvement; but the vehicle we were shown is a huge compromise. Five years ago the BRT plans were for buses with grade level access, where you exit at the level of the platform; no step. The model we saw only had access at the front with a ramp.
RTD was full of excuses concerning access. They told me that this was only a demonstration, headed for use in San Antonio Texas. The whole purpose of it being in Boulder was to see what the BRT would look like; but RTD’s excuse was that the buses they purchase wouldn’t look like the model we were standing in.
The BRT vehicle is a behemoth. It is articulating, which is almost like towing a second bus behind the first. How many more passengers would the Mammoth BRT-60 hold compared to the current RTD vehicles? Zero. How many more people with disabilities could board and use the colossal bus? Zero. More size must mean that comfort is expanded, but RTD said that the model we were looking at has different seats than RTD would order and there was no bike rack for the front. RTD of course will get the model with a bike rack; however is you ever use an intercity bus you know that sometimes there are a handful of bicycle commuters that store bikes under the bus. The big bus RTD showed us has no solution yet for how more than two bicycles could be transported or how that would impact riders.
A salesman for the North American Bus Company was traveling with the bus and pointed out that Fort Collins had purchased a bus design that included an automatic “bridge-plate” that makes it possible for wheelchair users to load and exit without a step on the platform with all other riders. That is precisely what I was there to see from the bus example. What I am afraid of is that RTD will continue to cut costs and compel compromise on the disability community as they change the transportation system along US 36.
The biggest disappoint however is the fantasy construction schedule that RTD continues to sell us. CPWD five years ago was welcoming of the BRT for many reasons but probably most critical was that BRT would start to improve transportation in 2012. As I looked at the inflated bus, I realized that BRT was no closer to transporting people than it was when I first heard about the plan. Now RTD says that the first phase of the BRT route will serve the first 18 miles up 36 by 2015. When that plan will reach Boulder is unknown. If Boulder citizens have to wait a lifetime for BRT to reach us, why don’t we get what we want rather than a busload of excuses?
I complained to someone at the site wearing a “FasTracks” t-shirt at the library that the announcement had said the bus would be at 1777 Broadway. I was able to find the bus because I was specifically looking for it, but the RTD agent looked away and began with an excuse of where they wanted the bus and where it was going to be in Longmont. I couldn’t help but think that wearing an RTD shirt had made that human being so used to excuses, disappointment and poor information that he did not even try to get it right or notice that RTD had failed.