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Service Animals

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This year, select Anthem Medicare Advantage plans will offer members the option to receive support for their service dog (food, leash, vest) as part of their health insurance plan. Anthem, Inc.’s affiliated health plans in more than a dozen states will offer wellness, social and support benefits, including support for service dogs, in many of their 2020 Medicare Advantage plans. Consumers who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans that offer these benefits and qualify for the service dog support benefit can select this benefit, at no additional cost to them. This benefit includes an annual allowance for up to $500 to help pay for items used to care for their service dog, such as food, leashes and vests. Consumers must have a qualifying chronic condition and service dogs must meet the requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and have approval from their healthcare provider. Other social and support service options offered as part of the benefits package in these Medicare Advantage plans include transportation, nutritional support, a fitness device, pest control, and sessions with a dietitian and home-delivered pantry staples. These benefits are part of Anthem’s commitment to whole-person health – an approach to healthcare that takes into account the drivers of health, including medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles. “When we looked at the underlying medical, behavioral, and environmental obstacles our members face, we designed an expanded menu of wellness services,” said Josh Martin, President of Anthem’s Medicare West Region. “Last year, we led the industry in offering robust Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits, and saw strong demand for services such as alternative medicine, transportation, and the allowance for assistive devices. Our 2020 benefits will help remove hurdles to healthier living for our Medicare Advantage members – from nutrition counseling and fitness tracking to pest control and service dog support – by expanding our social and support benefits.” Members who are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans will have access to this package of wellness benefits, at no extra cost. Members should consult their Evidence of Coverage document for specific benefit details as benefits may vary by plan. Pest Control: Quarterly preventive treatments to regulate or eliminate the intrusion of household pests that may impact a chronic condition. (New in 2020) Prescribed Meals: 2 meals per day for 90 days delivered to home. Based on qualifying clinical criteria, health plan consumer receives a prescription for meals and periodic appointments with a registered dietitian. In-Home

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) allows two types of animals to serve as Service Animals: dogs and miniature horses. Read on to learn more about mini horses as Service Animals! Miniature horses are small, sturdy horses ranging in size from 26" to 38" tall. They can weigh 55 to 200 pounds, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns. These hardworking little animals are easy to keep and maintain. Minis possess a sweet-natured and docile, and many showcase high levels of intelligence. What Type of Service Do Miniature Horses Provide? Miniature horses are best known for their work as guide animals, but they also make excellent mobility assistance animals. They've been experimentally used for guide work since 1999 with outstanding results. Mini horses are less common mobility Service Animals than dogs, but for a variety of reasons, they're an excellent candidate. Guide Horses, the premier training organization of miniature horses as Service Animals, notes "In early experiments, Guide Horses have shown great promise as a mobility option, and  people who have tried Guide Horses report that the Guide Horses perform exceptionally well at keeping their person safe." Other Working Jobs Miniature Horses Do Miniature Horses also commonly work as therapy animals, as they're very gentle, interactive, and intuitive. The best known mini horse animal assisted therpay program in the U.S. is Gentle Carousel Therapy Horses. Teams of tiny Gentle Carousel horses visit over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, and with families, veterans and first responders who have experienced traumatic events. Finally, there's been some exploration into utilizing mini horses in search and rescue. Air Scenting Horses has successfully trained at least one mini to the standards required by the National Association For Search and Rescue for human remains detection. Experts have trained many full sized horses for detection jobs, and miniature horses possess many of the same traits. Requirements for Mini Horses as Service Animals Like any Service Animal, miniature horses must possess a sound temperament and good structure before being considered for service work. They must be individually trained to meet their person's needs, and their person must be considered disabled as defined by U.S. federal law. Miniature Horses who work in public require extensive desensitization so they're able to work calmly through distractions. Horses can be naturally spooky, so socialization ranks high on the list of requirements. In addition to the public access training, the mini horse requires house training and task training. What

Since the U.S. doesn't require Service Dog certifications, the only way to tell a "real" Service Dog from a fake is by behavior. Read on to learn more about what a Service Dog should act like. Every Service Dog Team is Unique Every Service Dog team has unique abilities, needs, and work styles. No two teams possess the same training since every disability is different. What works for one team may not work for others. However, it's vital to note that every "real" Service Dog has one thing in common: they're individually trained to meet the needs of a person with a disability. This individual training specifically addresses their person's needs. The behaviors, tasks, and work the dog does for their handler aren't "natural" behaviors or things any dog could do. The training is precise and exact. The trained behaviors are on cue, reliable, and replicable. The dog's response to the cue/command is predictable since it's a trained behavior. As an example, a Service Dog who is trained to nudge their handler's hand when the handler becomes frozen in fear is different from a dog who naturally pushes and shoves with their muzzle. The second dog's behavior cannot be predicted and it isn't on cue. Therefore, it's not a trained behavior and does not count as a Service Dog task, even if it's helpful. Emotional Support Is Not a Trained Task This is why emotional support does not count as a Service Dog task. All dogs can provide emotional support. However, you can't train a dog to provide emotional support. You can train a dog to provide deep pressure stimulation to ground the handler during a panic attack or to alert the handler to a person approaching from behind. A dog who is not trained to reliably provide tasks and/or work that help their handler do things they couldn't do on their own in response to specific cues or commands is not a Service Dog. Dogs in public masquerading as Service Dogs who aren't Service Dogs do not possess the caliber of training necessary to work calmly and reliably. Fake Service Dogs create a lot of complications for real Service Dog teams. Namely, they create suspicion and access issues for well-trained teams. Service Dog Behavior: General Manners Service Dogs appear calm, relaxed, and able to focus while working with their partner in public. They should have good manners. They shouldn't jump, bark uncontrollably, growl, appear out of control, or

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a Service Animal as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, developmental, psychiatric, intellectual, or other disability. Per U.S. federal law, the Service Animal and Service Dog definition is clear cut. It includes any dog trained to assist a person with a disability overcome obstacles affecting their day to day life that directly result from their disability. As such, Service Animals are skilled and highly trained dogs who partner with people with disabilities. Service Animals are also known as Assistance Animals, Assistance Dogs, and Service Dogs. These unique working dogs utilize their specialized training to mitigate their partner’s specific disability and the difficulties caused by the disability. They perform some of the functions and tasks that an individual with a disability cannot perform easily for him or herself. In order to be a Service Dog, a dog must be partnered with a person with a disability that hinders their ability to function independently. Furthermore, the dog must have specific task training or work that directly lessens or reduces the impact of the handler’s disability. Without both of these pieces, a dog, no matter how well trained, is not legally a Service Dog. Service Dogs can be trained to assist with tasks and work related to a wide range of disabilities, including — but not limited to — deafness, blindness, autism, epilepsy, severely limiting psychiatric conditions, life-threatening allergies, diabetes, mobility issues, neuromuscular diseases, and many others, such as endocrine system, circulatory, or pulmonary irregularities. Some disabilities, like many neurological disorders or the cardiac condition POTS, are invisible and may not be apparent to others. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a Service Animal as: any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, developmental, psychiatric, intellectual, or other disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to: Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the