Thursday, May 19, 2011

Documentary on Special Needs Children to Air on Friday

This Friday , May 20, at 9 pm on UNCTV. The Bill Friday Program, "NC People" will interview Susan Ellis, co- producer of the Vail, Seattle , and Los Angeles Film Festivals awards documentary " Certain Proof - A Question of Worth". It's the story of three families and their special needs children. It will be repeated on Sunday May 22 at 5:30 pm.The documentary was developed and supported by New Voices Foundation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Medicaid Patients could lose coverage

Half of North Carolina Medicaid Patients could Lose Coverage under House Budget Plan:
Federal Funding for NC would Plummet Under Block Grant Scheme
Raleigh, NC -

Half of Medicaid patients in North Carolina could lose their coverage if the budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives were made into law, according to a recent report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

North Carolina would receive nearly 40 percent less federal Medicaid funding over the next 10 years. The $61 billion drop in funding would be the 11th highest percentage decrease in federal Medicaid funding in the nation.

The House-passed budget plan repeals the planned Medicaid expansion currently in law under the Affordable Care Act and makes Medicaid a block grant, limiting federal dollars to the states and preventing the Medicaid program from expanding to cover more people during recessions.

"Currently, children enrolled in Medicaid are guaranteed preventive care and necessary follow-up treatment and services," said Barb Bradley, President and CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit child advocacy organization. "These changes would eliminate these protections for children, as well as repealing the maintenance of effort (MOE) protections that currently prevent states from rolling back Medicaid eligibility for children, parents, the disabled and others. This would be devastating for children in our state."

The changes would also pertain to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures children in low-income families. States could choose to cut back or even completely eliminate their CHIP programs.

Medicaid and Health Choice (North Carolina's CHIP program) currently insure over one million children in North Carolina - nearly half the child population of the state.

House-passed budget plan would mean big drop in Medicaid funding for NC

The Kaiser Commission report found that over the next ten years, North Carolina would receive 39 percent fewer federal dollars for Medicaid under the House-passed budget plan than under current law - the 11th highest percentage drop in the nation. North Carolina would lose $61.1 billion over 10 years. In the year 2021, North Carolina would receive only about half - 49 percent - of the federal spending on Medicaid as expected under current law.

Half of Medicaid enrollees could lose coverage

Medicaid enrollment in North Carolina would drop by 50 percent by 2021 under the House-passed budget plan, assuming current spending per enrollee and cuts spread evenly across all groups.

Hospitals, NC economy would suffer

North Carolina's hospitals would also lose out. By 2021, federal and state Medicaid payments to hospitals in North Carolina would have fallen by 44 percent. North Carolina hospitals would lose $2.7 billion in 2021 alone.

The decrease in federal Medicaid spending would be a blow to North Carolina's economy. An article in the North Carolina Medicaid Journal found that in 2003, Medicaid supported 182,000 jobs in North Carolina. Federal Medicaid spending has only grown since then. (North Carolina Medical Journal, "Economic Impacts of Medicaid in North Carolina," March/April 2008)

The House passed their budget on April 15. The U.S. Senate has not yet voted on a budget plan.

The Kaiser report is available online at:

Action for Children North Carolina is a leading statewide nonprofit organization based in Raleigh and is the 2008 winner of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits' Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Award. Since its founding in 1983, Action for Children has been the leading voice for North Carolina's children. Action for Children is the KIDS COUNT partner in North Carolina and the state affiliate of the national organization, Voices for America's Children.
For more information, visit

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Coming Full Circle: The Recovery Continuum

The North Carolina Mental Health Association Collaborative and Charlotte AHEC will host the Annual North Carolina Mental Health Association Collaborative Conference on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church - Conference Center located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference entitled, Coming Full Circle: The Recovery Continuum, is a state-wide conference with guest speaker Mariel Hemingway, in addition to other highly- qualified, well-known speakers. This conference will bring together mental health experts, including the medical and recovery mental health professionals, community members, consumers, and vendors to promote the educational experience of current and relevant mental health information.

1 - Provide education regarding reducing stigma related to mental illness and improving understanding about mental health recovery
2 - Provide education regarding the philosophy of the Body Mind Spirit Movement and how it relates to mental health wellness and recovery, how it may be incorporated into daily living, the obstacles and challenges one may experience while living toward a balanced life, and how to find encouragement and motivation to continue.
3 - Provide education regarding how to stay on course with treatment, how to spot early signs of relapse, how to make a plan to get clients and consumers through difficult periods, and how to develop a relapse prevention plan.
4 - Encourage all consumers, providers, and individuals to make public policy and advocacy priority one by developing the beginnings of a statewide plan.

*Conference Speakers*
*Mariel Hemingway (Celebrity Speaker!!!)
*Amy Showalter, The Showalter Group Inc., Cincinnati, OH
*Robert Livingston, Consumer Presenter, Mecklenburg’s Promise, Charlotte, NC
*Lee Stephan, M.A., L.C.S.W., Director of Services for Adults with serious Mental Illness for Community Health Network, Indianapolis, IN
*Steve Jordan, M.A., Director, NC Division of MH/SA/DD, Raleigh, NC

NC Senate moves to reduce spanking in schools

NC Senate moves to reduce spanking in schools

By EmeryP.Dalesio
The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - The state Senate moved Tuesday to limit corporal punishment in public schools, approving legislation that would allow parents to save their misbehaving students from a paddling by telling school administrators to keep their hands off.

The 50-0 vote sends the measure to the House. The bill would ban corporal punishment for a student whose parent or guardian has stated that wish in writing at the start of the school year.

"It doesn't outlaw corporal punishment. It does make it a little more difficult to do," said Sens. Bill Purcell, D-Scotland. "Most research shows that hitting students won't modify long-term behavior."

North Carolina is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment after New Mexico outlawed the practice last month, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a Columbus, Ohio-based group that opposes the practice.

Even though North Carolina law allows paddling students, the choice is left to each of the state's 115 local school districts. Fewer than 20 rural districts in the state's southeast and west continue the practice.

Last year, the first for which school districts were required to report data on corporal punishment, there were 1,160 cases of the discipline measure statewide, led by Robeson County schools with 296 cases, the Department of Public Instruction said. That's up from 990 reported uses during the 2008-09 school year, led by 329 in Burke County.

Existing law requires paddling be administered away from view of other students, by a teacher or principal, under the observation of a witness.

A law passed last year allowed the parents of disabled students to opt-out if their local school district used corporal punishment, but the Senate measure would extend that option to all parents, said Tom Vitaglione of Action for Children North Carolina, a child advocacy group.

"Right now, a parent does not have the right to say that you can't hit my child," he said.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transition Services Are Essential for Military Families

The Coalition Reports: Transition Services Are Essential for Military Families
Bookmark and Share Raleigh, NC - May 10, 2011 - The Coalition

The Coalition, a statewide group of 40 organizations and their members advocating in partnership to meet the needs of individuals managing disabilities, mental illness or the disease of addiction, asks the question: “What do returning Military Veterans, High School Seniors in June, and rising Kindergarteners all have in common?” In a word, transition. Add Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism to the mix, and you have individuals with serious challenges in combination with a disruption of established routines and services.

In the case of Military families, a return from deployment may include the transition to civilian life with a Traumatic Brain Injury, or to the family at home severely stressed by the recent birth or diagnosis of a child with a developmental disability.

In some cases, both challenges may be present. Families faced with such challenges often experience chronic and sometimes acute levels of stress as they negotiate the service system and the new or deeply changed interpersonal relationships.

During times of transition, adequate services such as uninterrupted therapies, good basic and specialized medical care, and family support can make the difference between even the possibility of a healthy adjustment to a new life, or failure. Sometimes transition points require an increased need for services, without which the breakdown of the family, and even death, can occur.

NC has the fourth largest number of military personnel in the country, and is expected to receive 23,000 additional active duty members by the end of this year. There are currently 25,000 National Guard or Reserves living throughout the 100 NC counties without long-term access to military health insurance or on-base services. There is a steady arrival of returning veterans who have some wound, illness or injury. Finally, there has been an influx of military families from closed bases around the country who have elected NC as their home of choice because of its reputation for good hospitals and clinics serving people with disabilities. Like the general population, many of these families include individuals with some type of developmental disability.

There has been much attention of late to the behavioral health care needs of returning military veterans. Some excellent programs and services have become available and more will certainly be needed. While Traumatic Brain Injury is often clustered among the various behavioral health conditions experienced by some returning veteran, in NC it is considered a developmental disability, and it is present in larger proportion among service members than in the general population.

Federally funded services are not sufficient to meet the health care needs of the military population or the needs of military families managing developmental disability. Nonprofit programs, individual donors, and state funded services are going to become an increasingly important part of the solution. According to Colonel David Sutherland and Major John Copeland in their paper “Sea of Goodwill”, it is critical that a lifetime continuum of care be provided to our warriors, veterans, and families, to ensure that they thrive as contributing members of their communities…A successful transition and continued support will enhance not only veterans and their families, but also the community.”

The services and supports that help families affected by developmental disabilities including traumatic brain injury are more important than ever, as many returning military veterans and their families are part of a small but growing community who depend for their basic well-being upon the supports provided by state government services, among others.

For more information on this and other issues affecting those who manage disabilities, mental illness or the disease of addiction, visit The Coalition website at

Press Contact

Contact: Jane Phillips
Phone: 919-865-8724

Cutting Services to People with Disabilities

There’s a simple and harsh truth when it comes to serving people with disabilities: If you cut services that allow them to live in the most integrated setting, you will eventually force them into more institutionalized settings. This, in turn, will cost the state more money.
It is well documented that services in the community are cost-effective and, over time, save the state considerable dollars. According to a North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force, it costs on average 38 percent more each year in county, state and federal dollars to pay for someone to live in an institution like an adult care home than to pay for someone to live in the community.
We need only look at neighboring states to see both the cost benefits of community services and the consequences to a state with an institutional bias. In Tennessee, the state’s mental health office created more than 9,000 housing options for persons with disabilities in the last ten years. In contrast, North Carolina with 30% more residents has developed a third fewer options. Instead, we rely on institutional settings rather than developing services and supports – including community-based housing. Not only is this bad policy, it’s against the law – which brings us to Georgia.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and bans discrimination on the basis of disability. Nine years later in a case filed against the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that people who live in institutions like state hospitals and nursing and adult care homes have a civil right to receive their care at home if they could live on their own with services and support. Last fall, Georgia avoided going to back to court a second time, this time with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), over the state’s failure to live up to the terms of the Olmstead decision. The state agreed to spend $77 million over the next two years to set up new programs to help people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities get services in more integrated settings.
So what is the difference between an institution – like a state hospital or an adult care home – and more integrated settings in the community? In an institution, schedules are determined by staffing needs. Residents typically eat meals at the same time every day. They have limited choice. Freedom of movement is restricted. Decisions are frequently made on the behalf of residents – what they eat, how much, etc. Residents don’t get to pick who they live with; roommates are assigned. Personal relationships are often restricted or controlled. There is little privacy. Rules by their very nature are developed for the majority and not the individual. Decisions are based on what is best for the most people and the ability of staff to manage the residents. Though obviously different, these setting bear some resemblance to incarceration.
In more integrated settings, schedules are driven by individual need and preference. Independent living skills are developed – individuals learn how to shop and cook and get to decide what to eat and when. If the individual doesn’t want to go out (or feel up to going out) on a particular day, then the trip can be re-scheduled. Decisions can be based on preferences. Individuals have more choice about who they live with and what goes on in their personal space. In short, individuals have more control over their own lives.
An integrated setting does not separate people from community life but includes them in it.
The ADA says that states must develop a system of care that doesn’t rely on institutions. Unfortunately, North Carolina has not complied with this requirement. Instead, it has relied and continues to rely on institutional settings like adult care homes and has failed to develop community housing options. This violates the ADA and that’s why the nonprofit I direct, Disability Rights NC, filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice last July. In November, the Department notified North Carolina that it would investigate. We’re hoping that if the General Assembly hasn’t heard the message that community services save money, they’ll pay attention to what happened in Georgia.
Fortunately, it looks like Governor Perdue is paying attention. Her proposed 2012 budget would spare mental health services from severe cuts and include $75 million for the Mental Health Trust Fund. Of course, even if the General Assembly were to appropriate a similar amount (something that looks increasingly unlikely given the current bleak budget outlook) there is no guarantee that such funds would be used to develop support housing options or other direct services. Let’s hope that both Governor and the General Assembly can read the writing on the wall and do the right thing.
Vicki Smith is the Executive Director of Disability Rights North Carolina.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Medicaid Specific: NC House Budget

MEDICAID: Budget cuts would hurt economy and families

The NC House budget would cut more than a billion dollars from the Health & Human Services budget over the next two years, with more than $710 million of that coming from Medicaid. That’s a bad idea for several reasons.
First, deep reductions in Medicaid funding mean fewer services for people who need them. In fact, 1.5 million people get care through Medicaid, and two-thirds of recipients are children.
Second, these cuts would mean the loss of more than $2 billion in federal Medicaid funding, since the federal government matches state Medicaid expenditures 2 to 1.
Third, the budget calls for lower reimbursements for the medical professionals who provide them. So, money that would have gone from the federal government into the pockets of local providers—and from there into local economies that need those dollars to create jobs—will instead stay in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coalition Rally on MH/DD/SAS

Coalition Advocacy Day
The Coalition welcomes you to our ADVOCACY DAY & POPCORN RALLY on TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011!


Address: 16 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

Registration will open at 8 am on the back portico of the Legislative Building. Participants can get information on the day’s legislative committee meetings, the current budget proposal and begin visits with legislators.

* Advocacy Trainings will take place in the Legislative Building Auditorium (third floor). Beginning at 9 am short trainings will be held on ways to effectively communicate your message to Legislators. Volunteers will be in the auditorium with tips & techniques for making the most of your legislative visit.
* Popcorn will be available on the portico beginning at 11 AM!
(Please note that lunch will NOT be provided.)
* RALLY: 12 pm on Bicentennial Mall on Jones Street, across from the Legislative Building
* PARKING: Passengers in vehicles of any kind must be dropped off at the LEGISLATIVE BUILDING and park in other locations. Directions & parking information can be found on the General Assembly’s website at

The Coalition encourages you to participate in this event as we advocate for funding for mental health, developmental disability, and addictive disease services!

For more information e-mail Elizabeth Cloud at

Monday, May 2, 2011

Broughton Hospital construction will start soon

Morganton, NC --

Broughton Hospital will soon be home to work crews.

Construction on the new state mental hospital is nearly ready to begin.
Coal Chute Road will be closed starting on Monday as contractor Rodgers Builders starts assembling its home base for the project, according to Jon Berry, Broughton Hospital’s special project manager.

Rodgers Builders will begin accepting bids for demolition next week. Berry said a number of old residences on the Broughton campus must be cleareed to make way for the new building on a 60-acre tract within Broughton's 386-acre campus.
How many jobs the project will create isn’t yet known, according to Berry, because subcontracting has not yet begun. Rodgers Builders gives preference to local contractors, he noted.

Berry said the construction is a “wonderful opportunity” for the local economy.
Scott Darnell, president of Burke Development Inc., said in December that he believes the project could create between 300 and 350 jobs.

Work should start by early June. It will take until the end of 2013 to complete, said Mark Van Sciver, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The current staff will move to the new facility when it’s finished. Sciver said it’s too early to say whether there will be additional jobs in the new, larger hospital.
The state is building the 382-bed, 430,000-square-foot hospital to replace the existing facility.

The price tag is $154.8 million including new equipment, Sciver said. The funds come from state bond issues, so the current budget debate will not impact the new hospital’s construction.

The state needs the new facility, Sciver stressed, because the current buildings are aging and inefficient. He said construction of the new Broughton Hospital is part of an ongoing state initiative to upgrade mental-health facilities. Three new state-run mental health facilities will replace four dated ones.

Broughton is the second-oldest state-run psychiatric hospital in North Carolina. Now a 278-bed facility, its history dates to 1883. Broughton Hospital serves the state’s 37 westernmost counties.