You were represented in Washington, DC by five Oregonians with spinal cord injuries! Oregon Spinal Cord Injury Connection is the Portland chapter of United Spinal Association (USA). For the last two years Oregon SCI has sent 2 or 3 representatives to Washington, DC for the Roll on Capitol Hill (ROCH), which is hosted by United Spinal Association. This year Oregon SCI was well-represented by Matthew Howard, West Livaudais, and three United Spinal staffers from Oregon – Brook McCall (Grassroots Advocacy Manager), Seth McBride (New Mobility editor), and Ian Ruder (New Mobility editor).
ROCH is a high-energy, 3-4 day advocacy event gathering 100-150 United Spinal members from around the country. It’s an exciting opportunity to meet other experienced advocates and USA members from around the country, as well as to hone one’s advocacy skills and make an impact on current, pressing legislation.
United Spinal advocates from around the country started arriving Sunday evening, June 24th for an orientation and welcome reception. Monday we were briefed on the top legislative issues and began planning our visits with legislators the following day. Then on Tuesday, all 100-150 United Spinal members descended upon Capitol Hill and to visit their Congressional representatives or their staffers. Our task was to convey, in a meaningful and impactful way, the importance of supporting or opposing specific legislation by explaining its effect on 100,000s of people’s lives back home. We shared our stories and the experiences of many of you with the offices of Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, and Lisa Murkowski. By the end of the day we were exhausted but felt strongly that most of the Oregon congressional legislators would support or oppose the bills as we recommended.
If you want to be more involved with local or national advocacy, become a United Spinal Association member; it’s FREE! Then contact Dave Pierson, advocacy liaison for Oregon SCI/United Spinal or Brook McCall, United Spinal Grassroots Advocacy Manager to learn about upcoming events and current issues.
We will continue advocating to protect our civil and healthcare rights here in Oregon by planning our first-ever ‘Roll On Salem’ in 2019 for the long Oregon legislative session. If this is something you want to participate in or help plan please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A summary of the top legislative issues we discussed with legislators is included below or you can follow this link to find more information about all the critical issues impacting people with SCI/D:
Support Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S 1318/HR 5004): legislation that would make traveling more convenient and safer for people with disabilities, especially those with mobility or sensory impairments.
Support Disability Integration Act (S 910/HR 2472): this bill would prohibit states or local governments that provide institutional placements for individuals with disabilities who need long-term assistance with daily living activities or health-related tasks, and prohibits insurance providers that fund such long-term services, from denying community-based services that would enable such individuals to live in the community and lead an independent life.
Oppose ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620): In February 2018, The US House of Representatives passed HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act, which limits the ability of people with disabilities to enforce their rights under the ADA to access placements of public accommodation. It would require individuals to send a letter of notification to the business that is out of compliance with the law, allow 60 days for them to acknowledge the barrier and then allow the business another 60 days to make “substantial progress” in fixing the access problem. This bill puts the burden of enforcing compliance with the ADA on the individuals who are negatively effected by noncompliance.
Support Access to Essential Complex Rehab Wheelchair Components (HR 3730): this legislation would improve services to people using a customized, light-weight manual wheelchair by changing the way Medicare and Medicaid reimburse equipment providers for complex rehab technology and its components. Currently, the long waits for service and equipment are due to the fact that this equipment is a part of the competitive bidding process. The bill would increase reimbursements to (or near) market prices.