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MS Awareness Week March 8-14
Following our chapter’s participation in the MS Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C. staff and volunteers distributed information to the state legislatures about MS and our public policy priorities.
The Vermont Government Relations Committee has identified several priorities and projects to focus on this year.
Legislative priorities: Testimony was submitted in support of SB88/HB100 an Act relating to health care financing and universal access to health care in Vermont. In conjunction with The Vermont Center for Independent Living, the GRC will seek to support legislation calling for an increase in the fines for illegally using parking spaces reserved for persons with disabilities.
For a comparison of the 6 health care bills being considered, visit:
Improving Community Access: The committee is exploring joining forces with AARP Vermont on The Burlington Livable Community Project. The committee has a particular emphasis on improving accessibility through the institution of local ordinances and assessment of businesses and other public buildings. A simple checklist tool for MS activists will be made available for use in assessing one’s own Town Hall building and parking on Town Meeting Day.
Capitol Events: GRC members participated in the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights Awareness Day on February 17. In recognition of the National MS Awareness Week effort, Legislators will be provided with a variety of MS Awareness related materials to be followed on March 30 with a legislative coffee and meeting with targeted House and Senate leaders.
To learn more or get involved contact Christine Lloyd-Newberry at 1-800-344-4867.
Funding MS Home LINKS
Sustaining funding in the FY’11 state budget for the chapter’s Home LINKS care management program is a top priority for the GRC this spring. Advocacy efforts to then prevent potential emergency cuts to the funding will continue throughout the year. Home LINKS funding will serve as the primary focus of this year’s MS Action Day on Beacon Hill.
Medicaid “marriage penalty” stories sought!
Are you married and been denied Mass Health/Common Health because of income and are unable to meet the one-time spend down to qualify? If so, please contact Michelle Dickson at 1-800-344-4867
Government Relations Committee Volunteers Wanted!
The GRC is actively seeking committed individuals to join us for our monthly meetings in Waltham. Are you a person with MS or have a connection to the disease? Do you have professional expertise in the area of law, medicine, disability, fundraising, policy, or community organizing? Do you have a commitment to working towards achieving short and long-term goals? Are you willing to speak before government officials, at public hearings or with the media? Are you committed to working as a team and working on public policy projects? If any of these describe you, please contact Michelle Dickson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are currently no updates in the chapter initiated bills or legislative priorities.
Funding available for the Catastrophic Illness Fund Program (CIP)
The state’s next two-year budget includes continued funding for the CIP due in part to the joint efforts of the chapter and American Cancer Society. The fund provides financial assistance up to a maximum of $2,500 to qualified low-income residents who incur out of pocket medical expenses. Last year, 58 individuals with MS accessed this fund. The chapter is monitoring potential cuts to the program due to revenue shortfalls. We urge anyone who might qualify to apply for funds early in case of cuts. To learn more about the program please contact 1-800-852-3345 ext 4495 or http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/BEAS/cip.htm.
Opening New Doors Victory!
The NH GRC and various disability groups formally petitioned the NH State Code Review Board to amend the state building code to require the installation of power door openers for new construction and renovations to make it easier for persons with disabilities and the general public to access public buildings. The NH Code Review Board adopted Amendment 82 in November which requires new public buildings and buildings undergoing a certain threshold of renovation to install power door openers in at least one accessible entrance. This new building code takes effect April 1, 2010.
Thanks to Representative Carol Williams and Representative Bob L’Hereux the N.H. Government Relations Committee has secured sponsorship for the 2010 session regarding accessible parking signage. HB1262 had a public hearing in January.
Government Relations Committee seeks new members:
This committee meets monthly in the Manchester office with conference call opportunities and welcomes new members with a passion for advocacy or professional, legal, public policy or health care experience. To inquire further, contact Michelle Dickson at 1-800-344-4867.
|Thank you to NH State rep. Carol Williams, Hillsborough-Dist. 14 for taping a special MS Awareness Week promo and show at Manchester Access TV that aired at various stations throughout the state March 8 to 14!|