Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deadline for Medicare Open Enrollment Nearing

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plan or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan and need to make changes to your coverage for 2012, you must do so December 7, 2011. This Open Enrollment period started in mid-October and ends earlier this year than usual. Unless you are able to qualify for a special enrollment opportunity, through December 7th is the only time you can make changes like the following: join a Medicare Prescription Drug plan; switch between Medicare Prescription Drug plans; drop your Medicare Prescription Drug plan; switch from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (or vice versa); or switch between Medicare Advantage plans. 

If you need more information or assistance in making these decisions by December 7th, we urge you to visit this website or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be Part of the Worldwide Movement: Sign Petition Today to Support Access to Work

An international instrument demonstrating the rights and dignity of persons living with disabilities, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities celebrates its fifth anniversary on December 3rd. As part of a worldwide campaign, the National MS Society is joining other international MS organizations in an online petition asking employers and decision makers to remove the barriers that prevent people with MS from finding and staying in work.

Work is a fundamental aspect of our lives. It provides not only a salary, but a sense of self-worth, an opportunity to lead an independent life and to be a fully integrated member of society.  People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and other chronic, fluctuating  diseases are often marginalized by society and their rights to access work are at times not recognized by employers or safeguarded by law in their country. Some barriers to work can be easily removed through small changes to the workplace. Flexible hours, seated rather than standing work and a place to rest during the day could be the differences that enable some people with MS to stay in work for longer.

To play a significant role in the worldwide MS movement, click here to sign the online petition today. The petition--which urges positive changes that will enable people with MS to work--will be delivered to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay. The High Commissioner's office leads the global effort in identifying, highlighting and developing responses to today's human rights challenges. Thanks for taking action!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grants Announced to Support Housing for Low-Income People with Disabilities

Last week, the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced $749 million in grants to support housing for very low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. The grants will help nonprofit organizations in 42 states produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services to an estimated more than 4,800 total elderly households and persons with disabilities. The Society applauds Congress’s bipartisan efforts that made this funding possible so that very low-income people with disabilities can more quickly access housing that meets their needs. To learn more about these grants and to see if your state received any funding, click here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Hall of Fame Honorees--MS Activists Recognized for their Advocacy Efforts

We want to congratulate all of the MS Activists recognized at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 2011 National Conference for their invaluable contributions.  Each year, local volunteers receive national recognition in various categories for their dedication and outstanding service. 

The amazing volunteers pictured below are helping to improve the lives of people living with MS through advocacy-- using their voices and leadership to drive policy changes and move us closer to a world free of MS. Click here to learn how each honoree is advocating at the state or federal level and witness the incredible difference they are making. You are an inspiration to all of us!!!

To follow the great example of these activists, be sure you are signed up to receive the Society’s federal action alerts and federal policy updates. Click here to sign up.

Meet this year’s honorees!

Kim Campbell - South Central Region

Karen Knable Jackson - National Capital Chapter

Ken Jones - Greater New England Chapter

Joel I. Kahn - Ohio Valley Chapter

 Sarah Mayfield - Eastern North Carolina Chapter

Dr. Ed Nightingale - Upper Midwest Chapter

Rachael Stacom - New York City – Southern New York Chapter
Pam Trosino - Greater Delaware Valley Chapter

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thinking of our Nation's Veterans

On this Veteran's Day weekend, MS Activist Bob Wolz with the Kentucky-Southeast Indiana Chapter has a special message:

"On behalf of the National MS Society, I would like to thank our veterans past and present that have served our country. I would especially like to thank my fellow veterans with MS who served and/or are serving our country. After I retired, I was missing a purpose in my life. After my diagnosis of MS in 2006, I found my new mission in life--advocating for everyone with MS, but specifically my fellow veterans with MS. In our current journey, we do not wear battle fatigues but the orange uniform of MS. I wear my uniform proudly and will continue to stand up, speak for, and be a leader for my fellow veterans.

Bob Advocating
for People with MS
in Washington, D.C.
In keeping with my Army Warrior Ethos.... I will always place the mission first - advocacy. I will never accept defeat. No is not in my vocabulary. I will never quit - regardless of how bad MS treats me or people try to disregard our fight. I will never leave a fallen comrade. For those that cannot or will not, I will be their eyes, ears, and heart. We will not be forgotten."

With Bob, the National MS Society thanks our nation's veterans for their service and dedication and their families who support them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Update: Lives Worth Living Documentary

We know that some of you were disappointed that you were not able to see the film Lives Worth Living on PBS at the end of October. This is the riveting documentary about the disability rights movement. Good news!!! There are still opportunities to see the film in some areas of the country. Click here to find out if it is showing in your area. 

To learn more about the film, click here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

People with disabilities using their voice at the polls

More people with disabilities are exercising their right to vote and making a difference. A new study conducted by two Rutgers University professors, Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse, found that 14.7 million people with disabilities (57%) cast their ballots in 2008, while 64% of people without disabilities voted. While people with disabilities are still voting at lower rates than the rest of the American population, the gap is closing, research shows.  

In 2010, among those that were eligible to vote, people with disabilities voted at a rate of 42.8% while people without disabilities voted a rate of 45.5%. As you can see, people with disabilities are making a significant contribution to the political process in our country. Despite the many barriers that people with disabilities face while trying to vote such as inaccessible buildings and transportation, they are making their presence known.

Click here, to read the full study.

In honor of Election Day, we would also like to highlight the state of Oregon for its effort in making voting more accessible for people with disabilities. County election workers are using iPads to help people vote by going to parks, nursing homes, community centers and other places that might have people who need assistance with voting. Check out what Oregon is doing to get more people with disabilities to the polls-this may be an idea worth pursuing in other areas of the country.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Bill Introduced to Support Family Caregivers

The National MS Society and MS activists around the country applaud Representatives Jim Langevin (RI-2) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) for recently introducing the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2011(H.R. 3266). This bipartisan effort is critically important for people living with MS and for their family caregivers. Up to one quarter of individuals living with MS will need long-term care services at some point. Often, a family member steps into the role of primary caregiver, becoming some of the 65 million family caregivers that provide 80% of our nation’s long-term care.

Despite the many benefits of family caregivers, it can be a stressful and draining job. Passing this bill and reauthorizing the Lifespan Respite Care Program would help ensure that short-term care that allows family caregivers to take a break from the daily routine and stress of providing care remains available.

There are many families who desire better access to respite care so that loved ones can remain at home and their family caregivers can strike a proper balance between caregiving responsibilities and other responsibilities, like work. In fact, the National MS Society, family caregivers and other Lifespan Respite supporters are gathered in Phoenix, Arizona this week for “The Many Faces of Respite, the 2011 National Lifespan Respite Conference and grantee meeting. 

Conference participants applauding family caregivers

Check out this great YouTube video of Representative Langevin addressing the Conference attendees about the importance of family caregivers and the need for everyone to be involved in reauthorizing this program. Check back in a few days and the Society will have an action alert through which you can easily ask your U.S. Representative to cosponsor H.R. 3266.