Health & Disability Advocates




Health & Disability Advocates offers a range of services in two main areas:

Within these two areas, HDA has developed and implemented successful initiatives and programs that advance our policy and advocacy agenda.

Memisovski v. Maram HDA attorneys served as co-counsel in the landmark Memisovski v. Maram case, in which a federal judge ruled that the Illinois Department of Public Aid and the Illinois Department of Human Services had violated the rights of some 600,000 Medicaid-eligible children in Cook County to receive adequate health care. The provisions of the case’s settlement will dramatically improve children’s access to health care under the Medicaid program in Illinois. 

Training and Consulting Services. We are recognized experts in Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, health care and employment systems for people with disabilities. Our team can help you identify where programs intersect and provide the “know how” to keep partners working together. We work successfully with public, private and social sectors to develop shared value and create lasting solutions for more efficient health and disability systems. HDA’s highly skilled consultants provide facilitation and training; policy support and technical expertise; and “next practice” bringing innovation to our health, disability and employment systems. 

Illinois Health Matters is a digital hub of clear, user-friendly information about statewide implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for individuals and families, small businesses, community organizations, policymakers and the media.

Think Beyond the Label: Featured by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, this disability hiring campaign is the first single, targeted message to business aimed at increasing awareness about hiring job candidates with disabilities since the “hire the handicapped” campaign of the 1970s. Now featuring a job feed, virtual career fair and partnership opportunities to support businesses and help to demonstrate commitment to diversity. 

Illinois Connections: Assisting Military & Veteran Families: bridges benefits, resources and culture of military and civilian systems. Includes a peer Veteran mentoring program, Illinois Warrior to Warrior, based on the Michigan Buddy to Buddy model and specific programming geared to Families of the Fallen. For more information, contact Laura Gallagher Watkin at 312-223-9600. 

Make Medicare Work Coalition (MMW)  In 2005, HDA launched the Make Medicare Work Coalition, a collaborative project with aging and disability groups that marries public-policy development with education, outreach, and enrollment activities around implementation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. HDA is the lead agency providing policy analysis to the state of Illinois in the development of its state wrap-around program for Medicare Part D. HDA is working with other Midwestern states’ advocates and policymakers to ensure that their Medicare consumers are not adversely affected by the new plan.

HDA's Technical Assistance Project Through its Technical Assistance Project, HDA offers educational materials and training to consumers and service providers. The project offers information on a broad range of public benefits and health care programs including: Medicaid, Medicare, SSI and Social Security, and other programs. The project's resource library includes a range of materials for service providers and consumers; these materials are available here in our online library
National Consortium for Health Systems Development (NCHSD) Authorized under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (TWWIIA) and approved by the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA), the National Consortium for Health Systems Development (NCHSD) represents states that have joined together to assist other state agencies, legislatures, consumers and advocates in their efforts to build systems that support competitive employment for individuals with disabilities. The primary means for achieving this goal are state-to-state information sharing, individualized technical assistance, and the dissemination of best practices to a broad array of involved stakeholders in states around the country. 

100% Campaign  In 2000, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation to increase the medically needy income threshold for older adults and people with disabilities up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). The 100% Campaign – initiated by Health & Disability Advocates and our partner the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago – was one of the largest advocate initiated program expansions of Medicaid in the history of Illinois.

Project Access Project Access, a four year collaboration between HDA and two Chicago-area hospitals (University of Chicago Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital), was designed to increase access to public benefits programs and improve the health outcomes of children with severe disabilities hospitalized in neo-natal intensive care units. The project connected very low birthweight infants and their families to a range of state and federally funded support programs and/or counseled them on the services covered by private health insurance. A randomized, controlled trial study of Project Access, called the Neonatal Infant Outcomes Study or NIOS, was completed by the Sinai Urban Health Institute in 2004. 

Work Incentives Support Center (WISC)  The WISC provides benefits training and technical assistance on work incentives available through the Social Security Administration, Illinois Department of Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development, to a variety of parent support groups, private vocational rehabilitation agencies and Centers for Independent Living. Members of the Work Incentives Working Group, a committee formed from the Work Incentives Support Center (WISC), developed the Self-Employment Resources Network (SERN) to expand employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. SERN provides education on how income from self-employment affects public benefits, and links people with disabilities to resources and networking opportunities.

Project on the Uninsured HDA played an active role in the preliminary development of new health care policy in Illinois to cover the uninsured. As policy development consultants to the Adequate Health Care Task Force, HDA provided state specific expertise on how to cover low income and disabled populations and crafted a “Consumer Health Care Access Strategy.” This strategy prioritizes provisions for including both low-income and high risk/disabled individuals in the health insurance market. In addition, it builds on the strength of the existing public and private-based systems. 

For more information on any of the projects listed above, contact us at 312-223-9600 or 312-223-9518 (FAX).

See Staff Biographies for detailed information about members of the HDA team.