Friday, October 26, 2012

Medicaid expansion - what does it mean for Washington?

A recent news article lays out the choices that Washington is facing when it comes to Medicaid expansion - the opportunity for the state to use federal dollars to expand its Medicaid program to include childless adults. Previously, you had to be poor and something else to qualify for Medicaid - poor and disabled, poor and pregnant... Now, you just need to have a low-income to qualify for Medicaid if a state chooses to expand.

Washington's next Governor will have several choices to make as we determine how to move forward with health care reform in our state. The expansion of Medicaid is not the least among them.

To learn more, check out this article.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

An opportunity to learn how to be a stronger advocate

An opportunity to take a class on advocacy came to me from one of our MS Activists, Veronica, who thought it may be of interest to others in the MS community. Great catch, Veronica and thanks for sharing! Here's the description of the class offered by North Seattle Community College.

Have you always wanted to advocate for change, but didn't know where to start? The policy making process seem a bit daunting? We're excited to present the free Political Empowerment Workshop, on Wednesday evenings starting November 13th. Velma Veloria, former State Representative, and Alice Tan Coil, educator/activist, will demystify all things political and help you recognize your leadership potential in this interactive class. For more details, click here.

To sign up for this FREE class, please call Continuing Education at 206-934-3705.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another win for the MS community - this time in the courts

It's very difficult to sort through the news and find good things happening to the MS community. Sure, there are some stories about new drugs coming on the market, but for people with progressive MS or those unable to afford their drugs (and heck, for anyone with MS), it's still a tough go.

However, the National MS Society took to the courtroom for the latest advocacy battle to increase access to medical care for people with MS. And a settlement was just announced that allows people who don't show improvement in their health to still qualify for much needed Medicare services like skilled nursing and rehabilitation therapies. Formerly, the "improvement standard" required that individuals must show improvement to received care rather than just have a demonstrated need. This is incredibly significant for people with a progressive condition like MS or Alzheimer's.

This New York Times article has a good summary of the effort that led to this decision. It's something that the MS Activists everywhere can be proud of. In Washington, we are tackling a similar challenge to get rid of the improvement standard in private health insurance. Unfortunately, because of our state laws, we can only impact plans sold in the individual and small group markets, not the self insured market that large companies like Boeing or Microsoft use to provide health care to their employees. Stay tuned for more information about how you can help this effort.

Friday, October 19, 2012

How are you your own self-advocate?

Advocacy is all about sticking up for something or someone. My type of advocacy means sticking up for the MS community when laws are being debated that impact people with MS. It's systems advocacy. But another type of advocacy that can't be understated is self advocacy. The National MS Society has all sorts of resources to help you be a self advocate, your own advocate.

I frequently talk to people who have great success stories of self-advocacy. It's neat to hear how just a little bit of persistence can pay off. This article in the Wall Street Journal has some great suggestions as to how you can be a self-advocate for yourself if you are on Medicare.  Over half of people who appeal a denial for a Part B claim are successful. Pretty good odds as I see it.

If you have questions about self-advocacy, or want some tools to help you be the best self-advocate, give us a call: 1-800-344-4867.

How are you your own self-advocate?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Answer the call - become an MS Volunteer

Earlier this week I was honored to be invited to the Greater Northwest Chapter's Annual Meeting in Seattle. The positive and exciting information shared regarding the "state of the chapter" reinforces my belief that the National MS Society is a strong and efficient organization that is committed to supporting everyone living with MS and, ultimately, a life free of MS.

Awards were presented for Corporate Partner of the Year, Distinguished Service, MS Achievment, and close to my heart - Volunteer of the Year.  This year the award for Volunteer of the Year went to a dear friend of mine (and probably of a lot of you too) - Trevis Gleason. You may know Trevis from numerous speaking engagements and his blog for Everyday Health (

What you may not know is that Trevis is kind of considered the best "ask" in the business and he has been known to open a lot of wallets for MS with his efforts. This time when Trevis got up to accept his award and "ask" something of all of us, it wasn't to open our wallets, but to ask all of us to commit to promoting Volunteering with the MS Society. He asked us all to commit 20 minutes per week telling our story and encouraging as many people as we can to volunteer. You can do that - right?

There are so many different opportunities to contribute to the work of the National MS Society - participate in the Walk and BikeMS, work in the office a few hours per week, help with a support group (or start your own), provide peer support or, like I do, get involved in Advocacy. We need all the voices we can get contacting our federal, state, and local representatives to educate them on the needs of the MS Community. Join us in Olympia for the Day of Activism in January - our legislators pay attention to those orange scarves!

Please honor my friend Trevis and his wish to increase the volunteer efforts at the National MS Society. As someone famously said "it takes a village" and we ARE that village - 20 minutes is all we ask.

Hope to see you in Olympia! - Holly

Holly Hawker
Chair, Activism Committee