Still a lot of catching up to do! Yesterday’s meeting on the 1115 Waiver Long Term
Services Subcommittee was packed full of new information. I will share with you my
perspectives later today.

While I was out the Supreme Court ruled on Harris v Quinn and we are reviewing
this decision and will ask our Public Policy Committee to issue a statement..

Tony

Capitol Insider

Major Events Last Week

Employment – Bipartisan Legislation to Update Critical Workforce Programs on Its
Way to the President

Last Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 803, the
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), by a bipartisan vote of 415-6.

WIOA is a bipartisan, bicameral compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803),
which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2013, and the Workforce
Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions (HELP) Committee last July.   The bill was developed by Senator Tom
Harkin (D-IA), Representative John Kline (R-MN), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN),
Representative George Miller (D-CA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Representative
Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Representative Rubén
Hinojosa (D-TX).

WIOA, which now heads to the President for signature, reauthorizes and updates
existing federal workforce development programs, including the Rehabilitation Act
which provides for vocational rehabilitation (VR) services for people with disabilities.
WIOA focuses VR outcomes on competitive, integrated employment and promotes
greater emphasis on transition services for youth with disabilities through emphasis on
coordination between VR and other agencies including school systems, extending the
initial time period for VR supported employment services (from 18 to 24 months), and
modification of eligibility determination to promote access to VR by people with the most
significant disabilities.

Over the last few years, reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act has been a
top priority for The Arc’s public policy agenda.  The Arc advocated for many
improvements to the system now incorporated under WIOA.  These improvements are
consistent with its past and current position statements on Employment.  Additionally,
The Arc joined with other national disability groups to express strong support for
WIOA.

Social Security – Senate Highway Trust Fund Bill Moves Forward Without
Amendment to Cut Social Security Disability Insurance

The Senate Finance Committee marked up the Preserving America’s Transit and
Highways (PATH) Act last week without adopting harmful amendments that threatened
to cut Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.  In early July, the Senate
Finance Committee took up legislation to address a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund
with the PATH Act.  Senator John Thune (R-SD), along with Ranking Member Orrin
Hatch (R-UT), introduced two amendments to partially pay for the bill by cutting Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for people who also receive Unemployment
Insurance (UI) benefits.  Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) also co-sponsored one of the
amendments.  The Arc and other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
strongly opposed the amendments, noting that SSDI and UI are separate programs
established for different purposes; receipt of concurrent benefits, while rare, is both legal
and appropriate.  Cutting these benefits would harm the economic security of SSDI
beneficiaries and their families, single out SSDI beneficiaries and treat them differently
from other workers under the UI program, create disincentives to work for SSDI
beneficiaries, and cut Social Security to pay for an unrelated program.  Fortunately, the
Senate Finance Committee marked up the PATH Act last week without adopting these
harmful amendments.  With different bills to shore up the Highway Trust Fund moving to
the Senate and House floors, The Arc will closely monitor and oppose the potential for
these amendments to be reintroduced.

Health Care – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Clarifies Medicaid
Coverage of Autism-Related Services

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an
information bulletin outlining options for Medicaid to provide children with coverage of
autism-related services.  The bulletin discusses the opportunities and associated
requirements for covering services under a variety of authorities including the Medicaid
EPSDT mandate.  The bulletin does not require states to cover the services but clarifies
how states can cover the services if they choose.  View the information bulletin.

Administration for Community Living Releases Guidance on Person-Centered
Planning and Self-Direction

Last week, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) released guidance which
outlined standards for person-centered planning and self-direction.  ACL has indicated
that these principles will be embedded into all of the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS)-funded home and community based services (HCBS) as well as within
other non-HHS-funded HCBS and long term services and support programs.  All HHS
entities that provide HCBS funding are expected to incorporate the principles into their
regulations, guidance, and/or the technical assistance provided to states.  Additional
information is a vailable in a recent ACL Blog post from Sharon Lewis, Principal Deputy
Administrator of ACL and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy, HHS.


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
 
Tony@www.thearcofil.org