United Spinal's 2nd Annual Roll on Capitol Hill: People with Disabilities Gather to Shape Health Care Policy

Wheelchair users from across the USA will voice policy concerns to pols in D.C. 6/16-18 #ROCH2013 http://ow.ly/lctsR

May 22, 2013, 09:10 ET from United Spinal Association

NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association and leaders from its membership division, National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), will gather in Washington, D.C. on June 16-19 for Roll on Capitol Hill, to directly express to legislators the need for greater access to health care, wheelchairs, and policymakers -- critical to the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

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Roll on Capitol Hill (ROCH) is to ensure that legislators hear from wheelchair users and other people with disabilities as they address their rights and attempt to meet their needs.

ROCH attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Capitol Hill offices of their representatives and other key legislators to personally discuss policies that affect their lives and protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"This important gathering empowers individuals with disabilities to be part of the dialogue on Capitol Hill and at the state and local level," said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal.

U.S. Senator John McCain will be on hand to receive the VetsFirst Congressional Bronze Star Award for his extraordinary efforts to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); the first treaty to address disability rights globally. VetsFirst is a program of United Spinal Association.

Senator McCain will receive the award, Tuesday, June 18, during an evening awards reception on Capitol Hill to honor Congressional champions of the disability community.

Other legislators being honored include:

  • Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) will receive the James J. Peters Disability Rights Champion Award for his exceptional leadership as a true champion for the rights and needs of people with disabilities.
  • Senator Xavier Becerra (D-CA) will receive the Junius A. Kellogg Award for Outstanding Congressional Leadership for his commitment and dedication in advancing the quality of life of people with disabilities.

On June 17, ROCH attendees will participate in a full day of policy briefings from key Capitol Hill staffers, advocates and agency officials, including a keynote speech from Henry Claypool, Executive Vice President for Policy, American Association of People with Disabilities.

Claypool is former Principal Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living and Senior Advisor to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on disability policy.

Legislative issues vital to the disability community that will be the focal point of ROCH will include:

  • ensuring greater access to durable medical equipment and related services, prescription drugs and outpatient therapy;
  • quality health care and community supports and services;
  • competitive integrated employment opportunities;
  • the preservation of disability benefits under social security;
  • and civil rights protections.

"Roll on Capitol Hill proves that we all have a voice and that each one of us has the power to change policies that affect our independence. You just have to lift your head up, look in the mirror and say 'I can do it,'" said Kim Harrison an ROCH participant from Douglasville, Georgia.

Ms. Harrison lives with a rare neurological disorder called transverse myelitis and successfully petitioned her state to create a campaign to raise awareness about the disease.

Hector DelValle, a wheelchair user from Central Florida who will be attending ROCH for the first time, is hoping to raise awareness among his Representatives about the issues affecting people with disabilities in his state.

"The most productive way we can make a difference is by sharing our personal stories and the challenges we've overcome, said DelValle, who works as a substance abuse counselor and is currently spearheading efforts to bring more recreational activities and resources to Central Florida for wheelchair users.

For more information about the public policy priorities that United Spinal will address at Roll on Capitol Hill, visit http://www.unitedspinal.org/action-center/2013-position-papers/.

About United Spinal Association
United Spinal is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post-polio. It played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, and made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Membership is free and is open to all individuals with SCI/D. United Spinal was instrumental in getting New York City to create sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation that has been used as a model for many United States cities.

Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Paul Tobin

James Weisman

Alexandra Bennewith, MPA

SOURCE United Spinal Association