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Action Alerts


Major Recent Events

Family Support – Senate Passes Older Americans Act, Expanding Eligibility
for National Family Caregiver Support Program

On July 16, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act (S. 192) passed the
Senate without amendment.  S. 192 is sponsored by Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member Patty
Murray (D-WA) and Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Among many other things, the bill includes a fix to the National Family Caregiver
Support Program
(NFCSP)  which provides information to caregivers about available
services, assistance in accessing services, individual counseling, support groups,
caregiver training, respite care, and supplemental services.   S. 192 would extend
NFCSP eligibility to older (age 55 and over) caregivers of their adult children (age 19
to 59) with disabilities.  The House is expected to take up the measure in the near

Family Support – Bills Introduced in Senate and House to Support

The bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family
Caregivers Act (S. 1719) was introduced in the Senate on July 8, by Sens. Susan
Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).  A companion bill (H.R. 3099) was
introduced in the House the following week by Representatives Gregg Harper
(R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL).  The Arc supports the RAISE Family Caregivers
Act as it would implement the bipartisan recommendation of the federal
Commission on Long-Term Care, that Congress require the development of a
national strategy to support family caregivers.  The bill would create an advisory
body to bring together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and
public sectors to advise and make recommendations.  The advisory body would
identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers, and
others can take to recognize and support family caregivers, and be updated annually

Major Events Last Week

Rights – White House and Federal Agencies Host Official ADA Commemoration

Last week, the White House held a commemoration in honor of the 25th Anniversary
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  President Obama delivered a speech and
noted that while there was certainly reason to celebrate, it is “also a chance to
address the injustices that still linger, to remove the barriers that remain.”  The
President described efforts his administration has undertaken to remove these
obstacles, including signing an executive order mandating the U.S. government
include more people with disabilities in its workforce and to establish the first special
advisor for international disability rights at the State Department.  The celebration was
attended by several prominent legislators, agency heads, and leaders in the disability
community, including former Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Bob Dole (R-KY) ,
former Congressman Tony Coelho (D-CA), Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the
House Minority Whip, and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.   View the President’s
speech here
, read a transcript here, and see the White House ADA anniversary fact
sheet here
.  In addition, a number of federal agencies hosted their own events:

  • The Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    (EEOC), and the Access Board celebrated the event with speeches by Attorney
    General Loretta Lynch, EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum, Senator Bob Dole,
    Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Steny Hoyer. During the celebration,
    the EEOC and DOJ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to
    strengthen ADA and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act enforcement
    efforts by the agencies.  Read more about the event here.
  • The Department of Labor held a series of events including a conversation
    between Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and disability employment champions
    Senator Tom Harkin and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.   Watch the video
    and see the Department’s ADA webpage here.
  • The Department of Education hosted an event that included a speech by
    Secretary Arne Duncan, a panel discussion, and outdoor demonstrations of
    accessible programs and resources.  Learn more here.
  • Click here to see a comprehensive listing of all ADA commemorative events
    throughout the summer.

Social Security – 2015 Trustees Report Released

Last week, the Social Security Board of Trustees released “The 2015 Annual Report
of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal
Disability Insurance Trust Funds.”
The 2015 report finds that Social Security has large
and growing reserves. In 2014 Social Security took in roughly $25 billion more (in
total income and interest) than it paid out. Social Security’s reserves were $2.79 trillion
at the beginning of 2015, and are projected to grow to $2.86 trillion at the beginning of
2020.  The long-term projections of the 2015 Trustees Report improved slightly from
the 2014 Trustees Report, with exhaustion of the combined Trust Funds occurring one
yearlater, in 2034. The 2015 Trustees Report also continues to project that the
Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund by itself will be able to pay full benefits until the end
of 2016, at which point if no action is taken the DI trust fund will be able to pay about
81 percent of scheduled benefits.

Social Security – One Social Security Act Introduced

Last week, Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and 22 original cosponsors
introduced the One Social Security Act (H.R. 3150). The bill would avert a 19% across-
the-board cut to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits at the end of 2016
by merging the Social Security Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability
Insurance (DI) Trust Funds into a single Trust Fund. This new financial structure would
better reflect Social Security’s already unified nature: a single payroll tax currently pays
for an interrelated system of Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability
benefits, and changes to one part of this system often impact all parts of the system.
The Arc supports the One Social Security Act. More information about the bill is
available online.

Social Security – Attack Averted on Social Security, SSDI, and SSI in Senate
Highway Bill

As noted in a statement by Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, The
Arc applauds the Senate, which last week “…listened to the voices of people with
disabilities and seniors, and removed a harmful proposal from legislation to
reauthorize our nation’s highways, bridges, and public transportation system. The
proposal would have partially funded the bill with cuts to Social Security, SSDI, and SSI.
Social Security must not become a piggybank to pay for unrelated programs, no matter
how important, and beneficiaries cannot afford any cuts to these modest but vital
benefits. The Arc will remain vigilant and ready to fight back if any similar proposals
arise as Congress continues to debate reauthorization of surface transportation

Employment – Employment First Policy Promoted

The Secretary of the Department of Labor, Tom Perez, partnered with bipartisan
gubernatorial leaders to urge Governors and state governments across the country
to adopt Employment First policy. Secretary Perez, Governor Jack Markell (D-DE),
and Governor Dennis Daugaard (R-SD) shared a letter encouraging all fifty states to
focus on the alignment of policies, practices, and funding resources to prioritize
competitive integrated employment as the preferred outcome of day and employment
services for all individuals with significant disabilities.


Medicare & Medicaid – Outreach and Education Materials Developed by the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

This summer the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be
highlighting how Medicare and Medicaid have transformed the nation’s health care
system over the past five decades.  The agency will offer ways to keep these vital
programs strong by building a smarter and healthier system so that these programs
remain the leaders in coverage, quality, and innovation in American health care, as
they have for the last fifty years.  See the materials at

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)