Capitol Insider


Major Events This Week

Budget – Senate to Hold Hearing on Social Security Disability Trust
Fund Insolvency

On Wednesday, February 11th, the Senate Budget Committee will hold a
hearing on “The Coming Crisis:  Social Security Disability Trust Fund
Insolvency”.  Social Security Disability Insurance was created in 1956 to
provide financial assistance to people who are unable to work due to disability
or health issues.   Witnesses at the hearing will include: Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Social Security Administration; Dr.
Mark Duggan, Wayne and Jodi Cooperman Professor of Economics, Stanford
University; Dr. Philip de Jong, Professor of Economics, University of
Amsterdam – Amsterdam School of Economics; and Kate Lang, Staff Attorney,
National Senior Citizens Law Center.  Visit the Committee website to learn
more and to view live video on the day of the hearing.

Health Care – Open Enrollment for Health Plans Ends February 15th

Open enrollment for health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable
Care Act ends February 15.  This is an opportunity for people who do not
have health insurance to purchase it.  There is also help with paying the
costs of health insurance for low and moderate income individuals.  To learn
more about what is available in your state visit the health care website.

Medicaid – Tax Exempted Waiver Payments

Recently, The Arc became aware of an IRS Bulletin (2014-4) as well as an
accompanying Q&A clarification document which, as of January 3, 2014
under IRS Code §131, allow payments to qualified Medicaid waiver providers
to be excluded from gross income tax for reporting purposes. The
clarification document states, in part, “… the IRS will treat ‘qualified Medicaid
waiver payments’ as difficulty of care payments excludable from gross
income under § 131 of the Internal Revenue Code.  For purposes of the
notice, qualified Medicaid waiver payments are payments by a state, a political
subdivision of a state, or a certified Medicaid provider under a Medicaid
waiver program to an individual care provider for nonmedical support services
provided under a plan of care to an individual (whether related or unrelated)
living in the individual care provider’s home.”  The Arc is seeking further
clarification from the Internal Revenue Service and will share additional
information accordingly.

Major Events Last Week

Education – House Education Bill Introduced

Last week, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John
Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced legislation to replace
No Child Left Behind.  The bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) would
amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and makes
numerous changes to the law that give states more flexibility in the
accountability systems and the alternative assessments.  The bill consolidates
a number of programs and removes the maintenance of effort provisions that
ensure that states and local areas do not cut their funding and continue to
receive federal funds.  The House Education and Workforce Committee is
expected to move quickly on this legislation.  Disability advocates oppose this
bill and urge the House and Senate to work with the disability community to
include provisions to provide meaningful access to rigorous standards for all
students and fully include students with disabilities in the education system.

Social Security / Employment – Bill Introduced to Cut Concurrent
Social Security Disability Insurance & Unemployment Insurance

Last week, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
introduced S.343, the “Reducing Overlapping Payments Act”; the bill was
referred to the Committee on Finance. The bill would zero out Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in any month in which a SSDI beneficiary
also receives Unemployment Insurance (UI) (such as, after attempting to
work but losing their job through no fault of their own and therefore
qualifying for UI). The Arc strongly opposes cuts to SSDI benefits, including
cuts to concurrent SSDI and UI benefits. As noted i n a fact sheet by the
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, SSDI and UI are separate programs
established for different purposes; receipt of concurrent SSDI and UI 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. The Arc strongly opposes S. 343
and similar proposals.
Employment – White House Summit on Disability and Employment

Last week, staff from The Arc of the United States attended the White House
Summit on Disability and Employment hosted by the White House Domestic
Policy Council and the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class Initiative.  Attendees
included representatives from several of the nation’s business, philanthropic,
and disability advocacy communities and had the opportunity to hear from
representatives from Lowe’s, AT&T, Starbucks, United Technologies, and
the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability and Employment Policy on
strategies for hiring and recruiting individuals with disabilities.  Additionally,
federal re sources were shared for employers and job seekers, including a
Resource Guide for Employers.  Several members of the Administration
addressed participants including Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Senior
Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.  Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the
President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, contributed a blog
about the event.

AnnouncementsDisability Policy Seminar – Get Involved and Get the

The Disability Policy Seminar is taking place April 13th- 15th, in Washington,
D.C., at a new location – Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel.
Come and be a part of the solution by registering today! Early bird registration
and discounted pricing ends March 13th. With so many powerful advocates in
Congress moving on, it is time for the next generation to step up and make a
stand. B udget cuts are already threatening to severely limit, or in some
instances, completely cut disability benefits through Medicaid, Medicare, and
Social Security Disability Insurance. Disability policy is at a crucial turning point.
In order to prevent these drastic cuts and program eliminations, we must band
together and put a face on Disability issues and show Congress how
destructive their actions can be.

Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University
Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and
Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on
Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming
Empowered (SABE)

Promotional Support Provided by: Sibling Leadership Network as well as AAPD

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