United Spinal's Roll on Capitol Hill Unites People with Disabilities to Shape Policy

#Wheelchair users from across the USA voice concerns to pols in D.C to shape health care policy. #ROCH2013 http://ow.ly/meIkz

Jun 21, 2013, 09:05 ET from United Spinal Association

NEW YORK, June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association and its membership division, National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA), mobilized over 50 wheelchair users and consumer activists from across the country for the 2nd annual Roll on Capitol Hill -- an advocacy event in Washington, D.C. that directly expressed to legislators the need for greater access to health care, wheelchairs, and disability rights -- critical to the health and well-being of people with disabilities.

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Roll on Capitol Hill attendees had the opportunity on June 16-19 to visit the Capitol Hill offices of 200 legislators and meet other key policymakers to personally discuss policies that affect their lives and protect their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

U.S. Senator John McCain was on hand to receive the VetsFirst Congressional Bronze Star Award during an evening awards reception on Capitol Hill to honor Congressional champions of the disability community.

He was honored 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 is a dedicated American who has supported disability rights by cosponsoring the Americans with Disabilities Act, supporting VetsFirst and CRPD," said Paul J. Tobin, United Spinal president and CEO. "We are grateful for his continued support and perseverance in seeking ratification of this important treaty," he added.

Senator McCain said upon receiving his award, "I'm grateful for your presence and I'm grateful for your advocacy. Everyone in this room had someplace else to be besides being here today and you speak for thousands and thousands and you speak for millions and millions around the world who deserve the passage of the CRPD."

"You blazed a trail for people throughout the world to follow. What you have been over the years is an example and inspiration to me in the work that you've done," he said.

Attendees participated in policy briefings and dialogue with Capitol Hill representatives, advocates and agency officials discussing:

  • Access to durable medical equipment and related services, prescription drugs and outpatient therapy;
  • Access to consumer-directed quality health care and community supports and services
  • Greater employment opportunities
  • Preservation of disability benefits under social security
  • Protection of civil rights

"Roll on Capitol Hill has been a great event. I know everything can't happen overnight, but now more than ever I want to work to fix these problems," said Lynn Murray, Roll on Capitol Hill participant and United Spinal member from California.

"I believe the staffers were receptive and engaging. Nearly everyone was familiar with the issues we brought to the table, and many supported our positions," said Bryan McCormick, an #ROCH2013 attendee from Pittsburgh, PA.

"ROCH has empowered me, so I can now disseminate that education to my group members and peers, which will enable them to influence legislation that could affect them," McCormick added.

"We were able to demonstrate the importance of the right durable medical equipment for the disability community and how the wrong equipment will cause other medical related issues," said Kim Harrison, a United Spinal member from Douglasville, Georgia.

Henry Claypool, Executive Vice President for Policy, American Association of People with Disabilities gave the keynote speech to the assembled advocates.

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.

Other legislators honored during  #ROCH 2013 included Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who received 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) received the Junius A. Kellogg Award for Outstanding Congressional Leadership for his commitment and dedication in advancing the quality of life of people with disabilities.

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.

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Paul Tobin


SOURCE United Spinal Association