BREAKING NEWS: Medicare Covers Seat Elevation for Medicare Beneficiaries using Power Wheelchairs

From Independence Through Enhancement: Complete Post through this link…

We are thrilled to announce that CMS decided to cover seat elevation in all power wheelchairs for the purposes of performing all transfers or to improve reach in performing mobility related activities of daily living (MRADLs) in their homes. This is a major expansion of coverage from the preliminary coverage decision announced in mid-February and CMS attributed these coverage improvements to the 2,130 public comments received by wheelchair users, advocates, clinicians, and researchers. The final seat elevation Decision Memo can be viewed HERE.

For the first time, CMS determined that seat elevation in power wheelchairs is considered “primarily medical in nature” and is, therefore, covered durable medical equipment (DME) under both traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Seat elevation will be covered in Groups 2, 3 and 5 Complex Rehabilitative Technology (CRT) power wheelchairs when a patient needs seat elevation to transfer from one surface to another, with or without caregiver assistance, assistive devices, or lift equipment or to improve one’s reach in order to perform MRADLs. Seat elevation will also be covered in non-CRT power wheelchairs when determined by Medicare contractors to be reasonable and necessary.  Individuals must undergo a specialty evaluation performed by a licensed/certified medical professional who has specific training and experience in rehabilitative wheelchair evaluations.

This decision is effective immediately but CMS will consider new coding and payment determinations in the future. Beneficiaries who are most likely to benefit from this decision include people with Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injury, paralysis, ALS, limb amputation, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, myositis, and other mobility-related conditions.

‘A System in Crisis’: Dysfunctional Federal Disability Programs force the Poor to pass up money

By Fred Clasen-Kelly: Complete Post through this link…

Brenda Powell had suffered a stroke and was in debilitating pain when she called the Social Security Administration last year to seek disability benefits.

The former Louisiana state office worker struggled at times to write her name or carry a glass of water. Powell, then 62, believed she could no longer work, and she was worried about how to pay for medical care with only a $433 monthly pension.

Although the Social Security Administration agreed that Powell’s condition limited the work she could do, the agency rejected her initial application for Supplemental Security Income. She had the choice to appeal that decision, which could take months or years to resolve, or take early retirement. The latter option would give her $302 a month now but might permanently reduce the full Social Security retirement payment she would be eligible for at age 66 and 10 months.

“I didn’t know what to do. These decisions are not easy,” said Powell, who lives in Alexandria, Louisiana, about 200 miles northwest of New Orleans. She decided to appeal the decision but take early retirement in the meantime.

“I had to have more money to pay my bills,” she said. “I had nothing left over for gas.”

Hearing Aids Are Changing. Their Users Are, Too.

By Neelam Bohra: Complete Post through this link…

As more young people risk hearing loss, over-the-counter hearing aids are providing new options, but also confusing choices.

Ayla Wing’s middle school students don’t always know what to make of their 26-year-old teacher’s hearing aids. The most common response she hears: “Oh, my grandma has them, too.”

But grandma’s hearing aids were never like this: Bluetooth-enabled and connected to her phone, they allow Ms. Wing to toggle with one touch between custom settings. She can shut out the world during a screeching subway ride, hear her friends in noisy bars during a night out and even understand her students better by switching to “mumbly kids.”

A raft of new hearing aids have hit the market in recent years, offering greater appeal to a generation of young adults that some experts say is both developing hearing problems earlier in life and — perhaps paradoxically — becoming more comfortable with an expensive piece of technology pumping sound into their ears.

Some of the new models, including Ms. Wing’s, are made by traditional prescription brands, which usually require a visit to a specialist. But the Food and Drug Administration opened up the market last year when it allowed the sale of hearing aids over the counter. In response, brand names like Sony and Jabra began releasing their own products, adding to the new wave of designs and features that appeal to young consumers.

Seniors Surveyed on Aging in Place With the Help of Technology

By Lauren Naru: Complete Post through this link…

British Vogue is making strides when it comes to inclusivity with the release of a braille edition of the magazine’s latest issue.

The publication’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful shared that the publication’s “first” braille issue is available as of Thursday with an announcement on Instagram. “The Vogue team and I are delighted by the response to the May issue, but what the process of making it taught us is that what’s most important are tangible and lasting changes,” he wrote, noting that readers are now able “to be sent the audio file, to print a Braille file of the issue at home for free or to register your interest in receiving a physical Braille copy.”

The history-making accessibility features come with an issue focused on disability with actress Selma Blair on the cover. Other advocates in the space, including Aaron Rose Philip and Sinéad Burke, were also featured in the magazine.

British Vogue didn’t respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, Enninful penned more of his thoughts in the editor’s letter included in the issue. “Disability should feel personal to us all,” he wrote. “The time has come for us to get real about who we are as a society, and for fashion to build a better, more accessible and inclusive industry.”

Crip Up the Kitchen: Tools, Tips, and Recipes for the Disabled Cook

by Jules Sherred: Complete Post through this link…

Pre-order Price Guarantee. On Amazon

“I’ve never felt so understood and supported as I did reading Crip Up the Kitchen. Sherred is the kitchen whisperer for chronic pain folks like me who have avoided that room in the house for most of my life.” ―J. Albert Mann, author of The Degenerates and Fix

A comprehensive guide and recipe collection that brings the economy and satisfaction of home cooking to disabled and neurodivergent cooks.

cripping / crip up: A term used by disabled disability rights advocates and academia to signal taking back power, to lessen stigma, and to disrupt ableism as to ensure disabled voices are included in all aspects of life.

When Jules Sherred discovered the Instant Pot multicooker, he was thrilled. And incensed. How had no one told him what a gamechanger this could be, for any home cook but in particular for those with disabilities and chronic illness? And so the experimenting―and the evangelizing―began.

The kitchen is the most ableist room in the house. With 50 recipes that make use of three key tools―the electric pressure cooker, air fryer, and bread machine―Jules has set out to make the kitchen accessible and enjoyable. The book includes pantry prep, meal planning, shopping guides, kitchen organization plans, and tips for cooking safely when disabled, all taking into account varying physical abilities and energy levels.

Organized from least to greatest effort (or from 1 to “all your spoons,” for spoonies), beginning with spice blends and bases, Jules presents thorough, tested, inclusive recipes for making favourites like butter chicken, Jules’s Effin’ Good Chili, Thai winter squash soup, roast dinners, matzo balls, pho, samosas, borshch, shortbread, lemon pound cake, and many more.

Jules also provides a step-by-step guide to safe canning and a template for prepping your freezer and pantry for post-surgery. With rich accompanying photography and food histories, complete nutritional information and methods developed specifically for the disabled and neurodivergent cook, Crip Up the Kitchen is at once inviting, comprehensive, and accessible. If you’ve craved the economy and satisfaction of cooking at home but been turned off by the ableist approach of most cookbooks―this one’s for you!

Gallaudet, U.S. Naval Academy debate the issue of deaf people serving in the military

By Victoria Hallett: Complete Post through this link…

Four students — two from Gallaudet University and two from the United States Naval Academy — made history Thursday night by participating in an unprecedented debate hosted by Gallaudet’s Center for Democracy in Deaf America (CDDA). In front of a packed crowd at the Gallaudet University Field House, they competed in mixed teams, each with one representative from both schools and using a combination of American Sign Language and English. Their mission was to tackle the question: Should deaf people be allowed to serve in the United States military?

Gallaudet’s Trent Mora and United States Naval Academy midshipman Jason Santiago took the affirmative stance, maintaining that combat has evolved with technology, making it possible for deaf people to perform effectively in more roles. Arguing against the inclusion of deaf service members were Gallaudet’s Lexi Hill and United States Naval Academy midshipman Roy Choi, who asserted that auditory communication remains vital in combat zone scenarios.

A pre-debate poll of those in attendance, which included more than 100 high school students from deaf schools and programs nationwide, found that 73 percent were in favor of deaf people in the military, and only 27 percent were opposed. So when Hill stepped onto the stage for her opening remarks, she acknowledged that she was taking on an unpopular stance. “I like to challenge myself, and I like to view perspectives that are varying and different than mine. I think that’s the whole point of debate,” she explained.

Hill and Choi relied on storytelling to make their case, starting with the scene around them in the Field House. “USNA and Gallaudet have come together and worked tirelessly for this event and coordinated CART, interpreters, CDIs, and still, regardless of all of that effort, something will be lost in translation this evening,” Hill noted. “Now imagine that situation in the fog of war.” They asked the audience to envision ships that have lost their engines, bunkers that have been attacked, and other catastrophic incidents.


From VENKAT: Complete Post through this link…

Zappar, a UK based company has come up with a new accessible QR code solution that will help blind and partially sighted people access product information on store shelves and in cabinets at home relatively quickly.

“Accessible QR” brings a slight modification to the regular QR code that we are all familiar with by including a unique, patent pending D3 “dot-dot-dash” pattern around it. This pattern increases the scanning distance of a standard QR code by 7x, enabling visually impaired people to find the information they are looking for from a much farther distance. The accessible QR code not only identifies the product but also provides all the product details in a structured way that can be easily read by VoiceOver. To read these QR codes effectively, Zappar has introduced a new app called Zapvision.

Bill aims to improve air travel for passengers with disabilities

By Amanda Morris: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Mobile Act would track damaged mobility aids and spur research on designing planes that allow passengers to stay in those aids when flying.

Passengers with disabilities have described harrowing problems during air travel, including bungled security screenings, risky transfers onto planes, and lost and damaged wheelchairs.

Their plight has caught the attention of Congress, where bipartisan bills focused on improving air travel for people with disabilities are being introduced in both the House and Senate.

The Mobility Aids on Board Improve Lives and Empower All Act, introduced Friday, would require the Transportation Department to publicly report on the type of damage that occurs to wheelchairs and other mobility aids. It would require airline carriers to provide information to passengers to ensure a mobility aid can safely fit on a plane.

It would also order the Transportation Department to research the technical and financial feasibility of allowing passengers to board a flight directly in their wheelchair, rather than being transferred out of their wheelchairs and put into a regular seat.

Michigan automatic expungement: What convictions qualify, how to check

By Lauren Gibbons: Complete Post through this link…

  • In the first eight days of automatic expungement in Michigan, nearly 1.2 million convictions were set aside 
  • Automatic system will check daily for newly-eligible convictions to expunge
  • 2020 law that created automatic expungement process also expanded eligibility for wiping criminal records

This month, Michigan became the latest state in the nation to automatically wipe past eligible criminal convictions from public records.

More than 1 million felonies and misdemeanors have been erased from residents’ records since the automatic program took effect on April 11, and state officials say the process is designed to run a daily check for newly-eligible convictions to expunge. 

The automatic expungements are limited primarily to low-level, nonviolent crimes committed by residents who haven’t had another conviction in years. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said about 400,000 Michigan residents were “completely conviction free” once automatic expungement went into effect. 

Certain crimes not included in the automatic expungement process, including first-time drunk driving offenses, can still be expunged after a certain period of time through the traditional process of petitioning a judge.

Press Release: Not Dead Yet Joins Anti-Discrimination Lawsuit To Oppose Assisted Suicide Law

From Not Dead Yet: Complete Post through this link…

Los Angeles, CA — April 26, 2023 – Yesterday, the United Spinal Association (“United Spinal”), Not Dead Yet (“NDY”), Institute for Patients’ Rights (“IPR”), Communities Actively Living Independent & Free “CALIF”, and individual plaintiffs, Lonnie VanHook and Ingrid Tischer, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, asking that California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) be declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

“This lawsuit is a long-held dream come true for Not Dead Yet,” said Diane Coleman, president and CEO of NDY, a national disability organization. “We’re honored to join our fellow plaintiffs and attorneys to bring this fundamental disability rights challenge to the discrimination inherent in assisted suicide laws.”

NDY’s assistant director/policy analyst Jules Good says, “At a time where our rights are being stripped away, hateful laws are being enacted against LGBTQ+ members of our community, and disabled people of color are facing continued systemic violence, policies that make it easier for disabled people to die with help from their doctors are especially dangerous. Assisted suicide policies are inherently discriminatory, full stop.” 

NDY’s director of minority outreach, Anita Cameron, says, “As a Black disabled woman, I have experienced both racial and disability discrimination in healthcare. Although few Blacks and people of color request assisted suicide, as it becomes normalized across the country, racial disparities and the devaluing of the lives of disabled people will lead to people being forced, or ‘convinced’ to ask for assisted suicide.”