Below is from the Arc of the United States about federal advocacy:
Medicaid/LTSS: President Signs MFP Extension
On April 18, President Trump signed the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 (H.R.1839) into law. This bill adds an additional $20 million for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program through September 30, 2019. MFP has helped more than 88,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have proven that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for home and community based services beneficiaries until September 30. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid long term services and supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication.
Education: Bill Introduced to Fully Fund Title I and IDEA
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Susie Lee (D-NV), along with 11 original Senate co-sponsors and 16 original House co-sponsors, introduced the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act (S.1172/H.R.2315). This bill gradually increases funding for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and special education (Part B, the State Grant Program) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) until both are funded at authorization levels. Title I of the ESEA provides funding to school districts with high percentages of low income children. The Arc supports the Keep Our PACT Act.
Education: House Committee Holds Hearing on Education Department
On April 10, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing titled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.” The sole witness was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Secretary DeVos faced numerous questions related to proposed program cuts; the administration’s Freedom scholarship tax credit proposal, which could be used for private schools that do not have to adhere to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; loan servicing for post-secondary education; the decision to delay the significant disproportionality rule on disability identification, placement, and discipline by race/ethnicity; among other controversial issues. Visit the Committee website to review opening statements and testimony and view archived video of the hearing.
Autism: CDC Releases New Autism Prevalence Data
On April 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) which included a study of data from 2010, 2012, and 2014 on the prevalence of autism among four-year-old children across study sites in seven states. The data indicate that the prevalence rate was 1 in 59. However, prevalence rates varied greatly between study sites. Of the three states that had data for all three years, only one (New Jersey) had an increase, while the rates in the other two (Missouri and Arizona) remained stable. These three sites also reported no improvement in age at first evaluation. These study sites were part of the Early Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM), a subset of the broader ADDM, which primarily monitors autism prevalence among eight-year-old children.
Social Security: Trustees Release 2019 Annual Report Showing Extended Solvency
On April 22, the Social Security Board of Trustees released “The 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds.” The 2019 report finds that at the end of 2018, Social Security’s reserves were $2.89 trillion. The Trustees project that Social Security’s combined Trust Funds can pay all scheduled benefits through 2035, at which point the Trust Funds would be able to pay approximately 80 percent of scheduled benefits. The Trustees also find that the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund can pay full scheduled benefits through 2052, after which the fund will be able to pay about 91 percent of scheduled benefits. This is 20 years later than projected in the 2018 Trustees Report, due to ongoing declines in applications, awards, and the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits.