6th Cir. Weighs Broader Disability Definition of ADA Amendments

By Robert Iafolla: For More Info, Go Here…

The Sixth Circuit will hear oral argument over whether a federal judge improperly threw out a former scrap yard worker’s disability bias lawsuit based on outdated legal standards that Congress amended more than a decade ago.

Jacqueline Harrison, with the backing of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, challenged a lower court ruling that her knee injury didn’t qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Harrison sued Parts Galore and its corporate parent, Soave Enterprises, for allegedly failing to accommodate her injury and then firing her because of it. The companies argue that the district court was correct to toss her lawsuit.

The case highlights what legal scholars say is a widespread problem of the federal bench ignoring the impact of the ADA Amendments Act, a 2008 measure that broadened the class of people who qualify for legal protection based on their disabilities. Despite Congress expressly responding to rulings that had narrowed the definition of disability under the ADA, courts have misstated the law and wrongly applied pre-amendment precedent that is too narrow and no longer valid, scholars say.

Courts cited outdated precedent or the wrong law in approximately 13 percent of cases that addressed the definition of disability from the start of 2014 to the end of 2018, according to Nicole Buonocore Porter, a law professor at the University of Toledo. Porter reviewed nearly 1,000 cases decided during that time period, finding that courts erroneously ruled workers didn’t have disabilities in 210 of them.

“The problem is when courts get the law wrong, then other courts are going to rely on that,” Porter said. “Regardless if plaintiffs win on the merits, getting the law wrong on the definition of disability ends up having an impact on future cases.”

Misapplications of law have the potential to spread like a “terminal virus” in the body of ADA precedent because the U.S. Supreme Court is unlikely to step in and overturn a vast majority of them, said Ann McGinley, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, law professor who’s written treatises on disability law.

Possible drivers for these mistakes included heavy judicial caseloads, poor legal research by clerks, and bad lawyering, scholars said.

MHAM Letter from Lansing – January

From MHAM: For More Info, Go Here…

Message from MHAM Board Chair – Oliver Cameron, MD, PhD

A big change is happening at the Mental Health Association in Michigan (MHAM). After decades of sterling service, Dr. Mark Reinstein is stepping down as President/CEO. He will continue to work at MHAM, consulting on advocacy and related matters.

As of January 1, 2020, a new decade, MHAM has a new President/CEO, Marianne Huff. As part of this change-over, we at MHAM wish to be sure that all who attend to and care about MHAM and its activities know who we are: prior and present Presidents/CEOs, the Board members, and staff. Let me start in today’s Newsletter by briefly introducing myself. I am now serving my second time as MHAM Board Chair; the prior time a number of years ago. I am a psychiatrist, retired after about 35 years of doing clinical care, teaching, research and administration on the faculty at the University of Michigan Medical Center. I also now serve on three other boards, keeping me busy, but also connected to what the state and the mental health community are doing. I will be stepping down myself as BoardChair as of July 1, 2020, but I hope to continue to be a member of the Board. In subsequent Newsletters we will be introducing the rest of us to you, including who will be my replacement as Chair. Be well.

-Oliver G. Cameron, MD, PhD

Additional Topics

Message from Incoming MHAM CEO/President – Marianne Huff

Section 298 & the Public Mental Health System

MDHHS Hosts Public Forums

Final Thoughts about the MDHHS’ Proposal to Redesign thePublic Mental Health System in Michigan


Communications Toolkit: Defending Against Block Grants and Other Cuts to Medicaid.

From Community Catalyst – January 2020: For More Info, Go Here…


In 2017, Republicans in DC tried and failed to cut Medicaid and the ACA — which would have cost 20 million people their health insurance.

Now, Republicans at the state level are pursuing the same damaging proposals that Americans rejected two years ago. As a group of states, with the encouragement of CMS, have begun formulating proposals to adopt a Medicaid block grant or per capita cap, we have created communications materials to assist in your efforts to defend against these threats.

This toolkit includes research-based materials to help your advocacy at the federal and state levels. We hope these resources will be helpful in your ongoing work to protect Medicaid, keep it strong, and ensure that everyone who needs it can get the health coverage they deserve.

Thank you for being a part of the fight.

Housing Choice Vouchers Alert: Detroit Housing Commission and Melvindale Housing Commission

From CHN: For More Info, Go Here…

Please read information about these opportunities carefully as specific instructions are included when applicable. Please note that we provide all opportunities that are provided by public notice across the state as they become available. You do not necessarily need to be a resident of the local community where the voucher is available, and often the areas they serve are larger than the immediate area.
Please contact the entities directly with any questions. Community Housing Network staff has NO further information regarding the wait list.

Best regards,
Community Housing Network

Again, please submit your application as the notice describes and to the specific organization, NOT Community Housing Network.  Community Housing Network is sending this email as a courtesy and does not administer this program.

Please note that this is a courtesy announcement and we will not be able to provide updates on the status of the list. Because this is a very desirable resource we encourage you to apply as soon as possible when the list opens.

The Detroit Housing Commission (DHC) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher will open the waitlist from 12:01 AM February 3rd, 2020 through 11:59 PM February 5th 2020.

The Melvindale Housing Commission will be opening their Housing Choice Voucher Waiting List February 20, 2020 through February 25, 2020.

Supreme Court Ruling Will Cause Many Immigrant Families to Forgo Health Care

From Community Catalyst: For More Info, Go Here…

Statement of Community Catalyst Executive Director Emily Stewart in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s lifting of an injunction on the Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ regulation, which makes harmful changes to how the government determines which immigrant families can remain in the country.

“We are deeply disappointed in today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allows the Trump administration’s proposed change to the existing ‘public charge’ rule to go into effect, a move that will force many immigrants to make an intolerable choice between ensuring health care, food and housing for their family, or keeping them together in this country. This change will exacerbate sickness, poverty and hunger, widen health, racial and economic disparities, and divide families and communities.

“The Trump public charge rule is a yet another direct attack on the health and well-being of immigrant communities, and we are troubled that the majority of the court has sided with the administration’s inhumane anti-immigrant agenda. We remain hopeful that the rule will be struck down.”

Civil Rights Leaders Respond to Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Fair Housing, Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From NFHA Staff: For More Info, Go Here…

Proposal from HUD to Effectively Eliminate Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule Weakens Enforcement of Fair Housing Laws, Reinforces Decades of Discriminatory Practices

Leaders of The National Fair Housing Alliance, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Low Income Housing Coalition, National Housing Law Project, and Alliance for Housing Justice held a media conference call today to express opposition to the Trump administration’s latest attack against a critical Fair Housing Act tool for fighting housing discrimination. You can listen to a recording of the full press call here.

The proposed rule released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would effectively eliminate the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) mandate under the Fair Housing Act. Congress passed the Fair Housing Act one week after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968 as an honorific to the civil rights leader who had fought for passage of the bill. It remains an important part of his legacy.

In response to HUD’s proposal, a coalition of advocacy groups launched fightforhousingjustice.org, where those who oppose the rule and support the fight against housing discrimination can get more information and submit a comment to HUD.

These civil rights leaders released the following statements in response to the Trump Administration’s move to eliminate the AFFH rule:

Tinnitus and hearing technology in 2020

By Bill Rastello: For More Info, Go Here…

I’m one of the members of the population that suffers from tinnitus. Despite what I thought, it turns out I’ve had it since I’ve been a kid. I distinctly remember laying in bed about to go to sleep, and hearing nothing but a ringing noise in both of my ears. I thought it was normal — turns out that’s not normal at all. I thought that loud fans were needed when sleeping for everyone to block out the constant ringing when you’re about to go to bed.

Since all the doctors and specialists I’ve seen have no idea what’s going on (my hearing tests are within a normal range, and there’s no obvious cause for my tinnitus), and don’t have anything to give me to really help out, I’ve started to look into other solutions to help. Sound machines and other stationary devices (fans even, like I used when I was younger) can help with tinnitus while sleeping or laying in bed, but on the go has always been more of a challenge for me. There are definitely some really good tinnitus and white-noise apps out there for iOS and Android — ReSound, AudioNotch, and Relax Melodies are three that I’ve used. The American Tinnitus Association has their own list of recommended apps that I recommend checking out as well. Apps like these work great when you can throw your headphones on or are resting, but when you’re out and about and need to hear your surroundings, or are having a conversation, that’s a different story.

When CES 2020 came around this year, I poured over technology blogs like I usually do, reading about all the new amazing things that companies have invented. There was a big focus on “hearables” and other audio enhancement devices this year, which really got my attention. Two really caught my attention the most — The Phonak Virto Black and the Nuheara IQBuds2 Max.

The Phonak Virto Black is like a hearing aid on steroids. The biggest downsides? It’s set to be about $6,000 in the US and, since it’s a standard hearing aid, one would need to go through a doctor to get it (there are OTC hearing aids coming in the US, they’re just not here yet).

The other device is the Nuheara IQBuds2 Max. After taking a look at Nuheara’s site, I noticed something that stood out — individuals that have tried their products in the past have actually had some success with helping with tinnitus. I did some additional research, and these seem like a huge fit for my personal use case — they can stream anything from your phone (including music and white-noise / tinnitus apps) while blending in outside noise, you can adjust how you hear your environment a variety of ways, and they supposedly have very high quality sound. They also include a built-in hearing test that will adjust audio based on your personal hearing situation. Add on active noise cancellation, and these essentially seem to be like the Galaxy Buds or AirPods Pro, but with a bunch of hearing enhancement technology on top of them. They’re also way cheaper than hearing aids would cost out of pocket, retailing at $399 in the US.

Cancer: Using copper to boost immunotherapy

by Timothy Huzar: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- Copper is toxic to human cells but necessary for some important biological processes,  and your body has a bunch of ways of keeping copper out of your cells so they won’t be damaged.

An interdisciplinary group of scientists has successfully destroyed tumor cells in mice by using nano-sized copper compounds alongside immunotherapy. Importantly, the tumors did not return after the treatment ceased.

Doctors usually treat cancer with chemotherapy, but this often has significant side effects. For example, some chemotherapy medication can wipe out a person’s white blood cells, leaving their immune system compromised and open to infection.

Although chemotherapy treatment can be successful, there is always a risk that a person’s cancer might return.

Recent advances in cancer treatment include immunotherapy, which involves using a person’s immune system to fight cancer cells. However, this does not always work or may only slow down the growth of cancer, so it cannot yet replace chemotherapy.

In the new study on mice, the scientists combined immunotherapy with copper-based nanoparticles. This combination treatment destroyed the tumor cells without the use of chemotherapy. Most importantly, however, the tumor cells did not return after treatment ceased.


Voices and imaginary friends

From Understanding Voices: For More Info, Go Here…

Sometimes voices in childhood can be similar to having an imaginary friend or companion. It can often be hard to know how much is part of a child’s imagination, and how much they are actually hearing and seeing things that others do not.

Researchers define imaginary companions as invisible or pretend characters with whom children converse and interact for an extended period – at least several months. This includes invisible characters which have an ‘air of reality’ for the child, and what psychologists call ‘personified objects’ – imaginary beings that are embodied in a toy or object.  On this understanding, imaginary companions in childhood are quite common, being reported by up to 65% of young school-age children.

Some psychologists believe that imaginary companions are created by children as a means of making sense of strange or unusual ‘hallucination-like’ experiences. Research in this area is at a very early stage, but there is some evidence for the theory that imaginary companions are linked to experiences of voices later in life, though not necessarily distressing ones. This doesn’t mean that a child with an imaginary companion will develop a mental health problem, however. It’s just that people who have imaginary friends as children may be more susceptible than others to having unusual or anomalous experiences when they’re an adult.

On the whole, imaginary companions are generally linked to positive developmental outcomes. They can help children learn about the distinction between fantasy and reality, practice social roles and ‘theory of mind’ skills (the understanding that others’ perspectives, experiences and beliefs are different from their own), and develop a sense of self. They may also provide a foretaste of creative abilities later in life.

Imaginary friends tend to disappear in later childhood, but they have been reported in adolescence and can even be present in adulthood.


Medicaid Program Teams Up with Insurers to Ease Caregiver Crisis

By Andrew Donlan: For More Info, Go Here…

The aging population and shortage of caregivers in Arizona has created a near-crisis. The state has responded by pairing its Medicaid program with three insurers in an effort to create a steady long-term care workforce.

Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) inked contracts with Southwest Catholic Health Network Corp., Banner-University Family Care and United Healthcare Community Plan. The Department of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities will also be assisting in the effort.

Those organizations are collectively tasked with creating a sustainable solution to the caregiver workforce shortage by 2024.

Although Arizona faces a particularly steep aging population, the lack-of-caregivers problem is a nationwide issue.

recent analysis from the New York-based PHI National found that in the decade spanning from 2018 to 2028, the in-home care industry will need to fill an estimated 4.7 million home care jobs.