Capitol Insider

Major Recent Events

Budget & Appropriations – House Subcommittee passes FY 2017 L-HHS-Ed bill; Continuing Resolution Increasingly Likely
On July 7th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) passed a fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding bill. The bill provides topline amounts and proposes spending $161.6 billion, a cut of $569 from FY 2016, and eliminates a number of federal programs, such as family planning services. Below are select proposed amounts for disability-related programs:

  • Administration for Community Living (ACL) – $2 billion, which is $11 million above the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • Special Education – $12.4 billion for IDEA special education grants to states, an increase of $500 million over the FY 2016 enacted level.
  • The Social Security Administration – a decrease of $250 million from FY 2016 levels.

For more information, see the committee’s website and watch for a breakdown of program funding amounts in next week’s Capitol Insider.

The L-HHS-ED bill is expected to be considered by the full committee this week. To date, Congress has not passed any of the 12 spending bills. If Congress is unable to pass separate appropriations, a continuing resolution is likely.

Health Care/Rights – House Approves Mental Health Overhaul

On July 6, the House passed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R.2646) by a vote of 422-2. Provisions of interest to The Arc were largely unchanged from the version approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Senate is currently working on its own bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S.2680).

Tax/ABLE – Nebraska, Florida Open ABLE Programs

On June 30 and July 1, Nebraska and Florida, respectively, opened Qualified ABLE Programs. Nebraska’s program (Enable Savings Plan) is open to qualified individuals nation-wide, while Florida’s (ABLE United) is currently only open to state residents. Nebraska’s program charges a $45 annual account fee as well as asset-based fees ranging from 0.5 to 0.56%. Florida’s program charges a $2.50 monthly fee and asset-based ranging from 0.035 to 0.29%. More information about state implementation the ABLE Act can be found here.

Major Event Next Week

Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on “Modernizing Social Security’s Information Technology Infrastructure”

On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Modernizing Social Security’s Information Technology Infrastructure”. The hearing will focus on the current state of the Social Security Administration’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, the agency’s IT modernization plan, and best practices for IT modernization efforts. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.


Autism – Autism Committee Seeking Comments on Strategic Plan

The federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) that was reauthorized by the Autism CARES Act of 2014 is looking for comments from people with autism, family members, service providers, advocates and other interested parties as it gears up for its 2016 update. Comments should be related to the seven key topics traditionally addressed by the panel: 1) screening and diagnosis, 2) underlying biology of autism, 3) risk factors, 4) treatments and interventions, 5) services, 6) lifespan issues, and 7) surveillance and infrastructure. Click here to submit comments by the July 29 deadline.

Rights – Department of Justice Provides Technical Assistance on Polling Place Accessibility

The Department of Justice has issued a technical assistance document instructing states on how to ensure that people with disabilities have access to polling places. The document is not a formal legal interpretation, but does provide advice on how to remedy certain accessibility barriers. It contains a checklist written to be understandable by people who do not have technical expertise.

LTSS – Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Issues Guidance on Nursing Facility Residents’ Rights to Return to the Community

HHS has issued a guidance document that details how to properly administer the Minimum Data Set (MDS) to ensure that nursing facility residents are afforded the right to return to community living. The MDS is a mandated quarterly assessment administered to all nursing home residents. It includes questions that can connect long term care residents with opportunities to live in the community. The document asserts that the MDS is often improperly administered, meaning that in practice, most long term care facilities are not adequately implementing plans to transition residents to more integrated settings. This document details how to avoid many common misapplications of the MDS.

tony signature

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)