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August 2013 Highlights

PROJECT WIDE NEWS


Announcements

Online Survey – 2014 Technical Assistance Needs Assessment
As in past years, the RESNA Catalyst Project’s external evaluator is finalizing a brief needs assessment survey that will go out to both Statewide AT and Alternative Financing Programs. Your opinion matters to us and we hope you will take a few moments to complete the survey and tell us how we can better serve you in 2014. Look for a link to the survey in your email box soon. Thank you!

RESNA Catalyst Project and ATIA Webinar Update
The RESNA Catalyst Project and ATIA have partnered to provide live and archived webinar seats to the AT Act Entities on a variety of topics of interest. Due to popular demand we have successfully exhausted our allocated slots about a month before the end of the agreement period. We will be offering the same live and archived webinars beginning of October 1, 2013 for the coming year. Thank you to everyone for your participation and interest.

Upcoming Events

SAVE THE DATE! 2014 AT Act Entities Meeting
The RESNA Catalyst Project is pleased to announce that the annual AT Act Entities conference is scheduled for July 14 & 15, 2014, in Washington, DC! Next years conference will be held at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington DC and will bring together all AT Act funded programs to learn and share experiences, with an emphasis on collaborating between programs as well as with external organizations. A work group consisting of representatives from AFPs and Statewide AT Programs is working on developing agenda items. The RESNA Catalyst Project is pleased to offer this annual technical assistance event in collaboration with ATAP. For more information please contact Joey Wallace at jwallace@resna.org.

Recent Events

Webinar: Accessibility of Web Information: Implications for how the Public and Private Sector Conducts Business August 21, 2013
The RESNA Catalyst Project, Utah Assistive Technology Program, Southwest ADA Center, and ADA National Network presented a webinar on the accessibility of Web information. This webinar was highly successful and attended by hundreds of participants nationally. An archived recording of this webinar is now available at http://www.adaconferences.org/RESNA/Archives/.

AT for Employment Work Group Call-Thursday, August 29, 2013
The AT for Employment Work Group call provides opportunities for participants to get briefed on national updates related to AT for Employment, as well as opportunities to share what is happening in your state. Next Work Group call is scheduled for Thursday, October 17, 2013, 3p.m. Eastern Time.

STATEWIDE AT PROGRAMS


Upcoming Events

Teleconference Focus Group Series:
Statewide AT Programs, Vocational Rehabilitation, and AT Reuse

Several months back, the RESNA Catalyst Project along with RSA conducted a brief online survey to learn more about how statewide AT programs are working with their state VRs to promote AT reuse. Many of you responded to the survey, and now along with RSA, the RESNA Catalyst Project is scheduling focus groups via teleconference to dig deeper into this important topic.
Please join us on the teleconference scheduled in your time zone, or feel free to join another scheduled teleconference that works best for you. RSA and the RESNA Catalyst Project look forward to talking with you and learning more about collaboration between statewide AT programs, VRs, and AT reuse.
Call in number and pass code for all calls:
Number: 800-351-6810
Pass code: 46172076#

  • East Coast Call One
    Date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
    Time: 3p.m. Eastern Time
    States: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire and, New Jersey
  • East Coast Call Two
    Date: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
    Time: 3:00p.m. Eastern Time
    States: New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
  • Central Call
    Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
    Time: 3:00p.m. Central Time
    States: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin
  • Mountain Call & Pacific Calls
    Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
    Time: 1:00p.m. Pacific Time
    States: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii
    Note: Some U.S. Territory statewide AT programs not listed will be contacted individually.

Recent Events

Statewide AT Program New Directors Webinar/Call- August 8, 2013
The New Directors call takes place every other month. This webinar/call featured information on program management found in the third module of the New Director’s Curriculum (http://www.resnaprojects.org/statewide/newdirectors/mod3progmgt.html).
The next New Directors call is scheduled for Thursday, October 10, 2013, 3p.m. Eastern Time.

New AT Purchasing Discount Forum Tour Webinar- August 22, 2013
The Purchasing Work Group finalized the online information sharing forum, and Jason Luciano with the RESNA Catalyst Project presented the Discount Forum during this webinar. This forum is designed to allow representatives from statewide programs responsible for device purchases to share information with each other in a confidential and easily-accessed setting. This information can be about group buys, discounts available, or even sharing coupons for particular vendors or devices. Please log in and help out your fellow programs! Information on how to access the forum was presented during this webinar, and it is archived on the RESNA Catalyst Project website at http://www.resnaprojects.org/statewide/webedarchive.html.

PAAT PROGRAMS


Announcements

SAVE THE DATES! Upcoming Fall Teleconference Series (all sessions will be free but pre-registration will be required). Trainers include Diana Straube and Jim Sheldon, National AT Advocacy Project, and Ron Hager, National Disability Rights Network:

  • October 23, 2013 – “Funding of Cutting Edge Equipment through State Medicaid Programs”
  • November 20, 2013 - “Using Your State’s General Curriculum Mandates to Fund AT in the Public School”
  • December 18, 2013 – “Funding of AT through State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies”

We are awaiting approval of an application for continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Contact Jim (jsheldon@nls.org) or Diana (dstraube@nls.org) to register.

National AT Advocacy Project to Work with NCart to Deliver Training at Their Spring 2014 Conference (Conference to Occur in Washington, D.C. area in March or April 2014)
The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCart) is best described as a trade association comprised primarily of equipment manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to a range of other activities, NCart offers one or more national training opportunities for its members each year. NCart has provided sponsorship support for our past “Bridges to Better Advocacy” national conferences, and at our most recent October 2012 conference, Don Clayback of NCart presented on policy developments within Medicare. Having decided we will not run our annual “Bridges” conference during the fall of 2013 or spring of 2014, we are looking to the NCart conference and the planned June 2014 National Disability Rights Network conference as two forums for delivering extensive training related to funding of AT. We hope to offer sessions at this event that will be a draw for PAAT attorney/advocates and simultaneously be attractive to the NCart membership.

Koenning Standing Wheelchair Appeal Dismissed as Moot (decision dated 8/20/13)
NLC previously reported on the Koenning v. Suehs litigation, filed on behalf of three plaintiffs, challenging a Texas Medicaid policy that excluded standing wheelchairs (“mobile standers”) from coverage for adults. The policy resulted in automatic denials when Medicaid beneficiaries sought the item through prior authorization, or when those denials were appealed through the fair hearing system. In September 2012, the district court ruled in favor of the three plaintiffs holding that the state’s policy of categorically denying coverage of mobile standers (including standing wheelchairs), without consideration of medical necessity, violates the reasonable standards and amount, duration, and scope provisions of the federal Medicaid Act and its implementing regulations, and is preempted by the Supremacy Clause. In so holding, the court specifically held that the state’s absolute exclusion from coverage violated the terms of the 1998 CMS policy letter that prohibits exclusive lists (referenced by the court as the “DeSario Letter”). Koenning v. Suehs, 897 F.Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. Texas 2012)
The lower court also found that the state’s requirement that hearing officers apply agency policy at hearings violates the due process requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Medicaid Act. “[The agency] cannot unlawfully characterize mobile standers as non-covered and then foreclose any further consideration of the coverage questions, including the issue of medical necessity, in a hearing by requiring that the same unlawful policy be followed.” 897 F.Supp 2d at 553. The court enjoined the state from enforcing its categorical exclusion of mobile standers (including standing wheelchairs) without regard to medical necessity, and remanded the issue of medical necessity for each plaintiff to the agency for determination. Following the district court decision but before arguments were heard at the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Medicaid agency, through its agent, the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMMP), reconsidered the prior authorization requests for each of the plaintiffs. Following that process, TMMP approved the standing wheelchairs for plaintiffs Koenning and Ryals. TMMP denied the application for plaintiff Martin, finding a lack of medical necessity for the standing wheelchair, leaving him with the right to appeal through the fair hearing system.

On August 20, 2013, the Fifth Circuit issued a four-page, unpublished per curiam opinion ruling that the case is now moot. Koenning v. Janek, 2013 WL 4430365 (5th Cir. 8/20/13). The Court specifically held that its disposition of the appeal “turns on events that occurred after the district court entered summary judgment for the Plaintiffs” (i.e., the approval of standing wheelchair requests for two plaintiffs and the decision and right to appeal for the third plaintiff). Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendant conceded that the case was moot as to the two plaintiffs who now have their standing wheelchairs, but both sides urged the Court that the case was not moot as to the third plaintiff. Despite these arguments, the Court dismissed all of plaintiffs’ claims as moot and vacated the district court’s order and judgment. Since the lower court’s decision remains on the books as a reported decision and the Fifth Circuit never reached the underlying merits of the case, attorneys may want to cite the district court decision in the future as a well-reasoned statement of the Medicaid law as relevant to durable medical equipment cases. If you do cite it, here is the format we suggest: Koenning v. Suehs, 897 F.Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. Texas 2012), decision and judgment vacated on other grounds, 2013 WL 4430365 (5th Cir. 8/20/13).
Contact Jim (jsheldon@nls.org) or Diana (dstraube@nls.org) for copies of the most recent decision or any of the briefs filed in this case.

ALTERNATIVE FINANCING AND TELEWORK LOAN PROGRAMS


Announcements

Success Stories Wanted!
The RESNA Catalyst Project wants success stories from your programs! We are in process of developing new marketing and information materials, and want to highlight all the successes your programs experience. Client stories and pictures are needed to make these as powerful as possible. Please contact Jason Luciano at jluciano@resna.org for more information.

Upcoming Events

Online Survey – Needs Assessment 2014
It’s hard to believe, but it’s the start of Fiscal Year 2014! The external evaluator for the RESNA Catalyst Project is sending out an online survey as part of the annual Program Needs Assessment. This will be a follow up to the conference call held August 21, 2013. Please find a few minutes to respond, and help us ensure we continue to provide quality technical assistance to all AT Act funded programs!

Recent Events

Teleconference: Needs Assessment – August 21, 2013
This teleconference was a start to the yearly needs assessment for all AT Act programs, and program representatives were able to participate in a discussion shaping the technical assistance plan for FY 2014.

OTHER RESOURCES

Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research’s (ICATER) New App
ICATER has just rolled out a new app called the ICATER Toolkit, which is a great reference for Tips of the Day as well as archived webinars directly from the app. The app also contains links to contacting ICATER for questions and suggestions. To download this free app, visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/icater-toolkit/id686511315.

“Champion for Coverage” Opportunities with CMS
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has two new opportunities for organizations to help make sure uninsured Americans take advantage of the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Please check out the “Partner with Us” tab at http://marketplace.cms.gov/. There you will find information about becoming a “Champion for Coverage” – nationally or in your state – and the myriad of ways to get involved. Also at http://marketplace.cms.gov/ you will find information about how an organization qualifies and how to apply to become a “Certified Application Counselor (CAC).” Resources and educational materials that you can use are also available on this site.

Healthcare.gov
www.healthcare.gov has developed a new portal for individuals or small businesses to use to access the “healthcare marketplace”. The site also provides links directly to the Individual and Small Business Marketplaces through the "Get Insurance" tab. Enter your state on this page to be directed to your state's Marketplace or the Marketplace that the federal government has created for your state. The site also provides more information about Marketplaces in general, answering questions like "Will I qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums" and "What is the Health Insurance Marketplace‌"

Accessible Technology Coalition (ATC)
http://atcoalition.org/. The mission of the AT Coalition is to develop a consumer driven, grassroots program that provides people with disabilities, and those that work with them, accurate answers to their technology questions allowing them to identify appropriate solutions - particularly for those who do not have access to a local AT Center.

AT Radio & Podcasts in Indiana
INDATA has launched an internet radio station. AssistiveTechnologyRadio.com broadcasts 24/7 and includes a wide variety of AT programs. Programs include INDATA’s two podcasts as well as various AT training sessions. To view and listen to the growing list of episodes, visit: http://www.eastersealstech.com/on-air/.
INDATA will include audio content from other AT projects. To submit radio content or to learn more about INDATA's AT radio and podcasts contact Wade Wingler at wwingler@eastersealscrossroads.org.


The RESNA Catalyst Project provides technical assistance to Statewide Assistive Technology Programs, Alternative Financing Programs & Access to Telework Programs, and Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology Programs. RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.

This newsletter is produced by the RESNA Catalyst Project under a grant funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), U.S. Department of Education (RSA/ED) through the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. The information contained herein does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of RSA/ED or RESNA and no official endorsement of the materials should be inferred.

Contact Information: RESNA Catalyst Project, 1700 North Moore Street, Suite 1540, Arlington, VA 22209-1903; (703) 524-6686 (voice), (866) 342-6572 (voice), (703) 524-6630 (FAX), (703) 524-6639 (TTY). Email: catalyst@resna.org; Website: http://www.resnaprojects.org.