|Major Events Last Week
Health Care – Final Health Care Reform Rules Released
The Administration is releasing final rules on implementing changes in the Medicaid program required by the Affordable Care Act. The changes are intended to streamline and simplify eligibility. The disability community had raised concerns about how the proposed rule would affect people who may need home and community based services and other supports that may not be available under the new Medicaid expansion. In announcing the planned publication of the final rule, leaders of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that our concerns were substantially addressed. The Arc will continue to work with CMS to ensure that the new enrollment processes accomplish the goals of streamlining enrollment and ensuring that people with disabilities are able to access the services and supports they require.
The Administration also released final rules implementing programs to ensure that the new health exchange insurance markets are able to share risks with the federal government in order to avoid having health plans exclude people with chronic health conditions and to help stabilize health insurance premiums. These rules are expected to be published in the Federal Register this week.
Medicaid – The Arc Comments on Long Term Services and Supports and Dually Eligible Citizens in Massachusetts
The Arc submitted comments
to the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office in CMS concerning Massachusetts’ proposal to integrate care for individuals dually eligible for both programs. The Commonwealth was the first to submit a proposal. Several other states have proposals in the pipeline which The Arc will review as well.
Education – New Report on Restraint and Seclusion; The Arc Supports Legislation to Limit the Practice
The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) issued a report opposing the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020, HR 1381) introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA). The bill allows the use of physical restraint only when someone is in danger of being harmed, while ensuring that personnel receive proper training, that parents are aware of any restraint or seclusion used with their children, and that the most dangerous types of restraint and seclusion are eliminated. AASA argued that no federal legislation is necessary and school districts should have freedom to make decisions about restraint/seclusion on their own.
The Arc sent a letter to Senator Harkin, who is the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, reiterating our support for restraint and seclusion legislation. We also signed on to a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) letter that detailed how children with disabilities, minorities, and other children have been harmed, injured, and killed by this practice. That letter also states our strong support for the Harkin and Miller bills.
Major Events Ahead
Budget – House Republicans Expected to Release 2013 Budget Tomorrow
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is expected to release a Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget Resolution tomorrow, which is a blueprint for spending and tax policy for the year. This is the first Congressional step in what will likely be a lengthy battle over appropriations levels, tax policy, and deficit reduction. It is doubtful that all these issues, including the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, will all be resolved before the November election. If not, then Congress could reconvene in a post-election “lame duck” session to try and resolve the issues and any other outstanding matters. The FY 2013 House Budget Resolution is expected to contain deep cuts in critical domestic spending and include fundamental changes to the Medicaid and Medicare programs. The Senate is not likely to vote on a Budget Resolution this year, as the Budget Control Act already set spending caps for 2012 to 2021.
Health Care – Congress to Consider Changes to Health Care Reform Provisions
The House of Representatives is likely to vote this week on repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and capping medical malpractice awards. The IPAB, included in the Affordable Care Act, is intended to recommend changes to the Medicare program to save money. If it becomes fully operational, any recommended changes will be implemented unless Congress votes on alternative plans. Significant changes to the Medicare program are very politically charged and the IPAB was authorized to help implement the difficult choices. Its future in the Senate is unclear, though the Obama Administration has supported the program and has proposed expanding its mission to create more savings.
Social Security – House to hold 3rd Hearing on Securing the Future of SSDI
On Tuesday, March 20th at 10:30AM EST the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security will hold the third in a hearing series on “Securing the Future of the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” The hearing will focus on how disability insurance eligibility decisions are made, including the definition of disability and the Federal-State relationship. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view the live webcast.
Direct Support Workers – House Hearing on Companion Care Rescheduled
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections has rescheduled its hearing on “Ensuring Regulations Protect Access to Affordable and Quality Companion Care” for Tuesday, March 20th at 2PM EDT. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to view the live webcast.
Register for Disability Policy Seminar – Early Rates Expire March 20
Make your plans to attend the 2012 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. April 23-25 and take advantage of special early registration and hotel rates until March 20. This event is the biggest and best opportunity for advocates to advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But this year it is even more important to make your mark in Washington as we approach a pivotal presidential election in November. This unique platform offers you the opportunity to come together with other advocates, learn about the issues, and speak with your elected officials about what is important to you. This year’s seminar will include a Capitol Hill reception, for seminar attendees only, hosted by the office of the Honorable Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator from Iowa. Get the best rates and availability for the seminar at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, D.C. and find out more about this year’s program at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org.
Attending the Seminar? Schedule Appointments and RSVP for Special Event ASAP
Attendees are encouraged to begin to reach out for appointments with elected officials as soon as possible – due to the frequency of Congressional recesses, time to meet in Washington with constituency groups like us is more limited than in recent years.
This year’s seminar will include a Capitol Hill reception on Tuesday, April 24, hosted by the office of the Honorable Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator from Iowa. If you have already registered for the Seminar, we need your RSVPfor this special event.
Civil Rights – Announcement Regarding Americans with Disabilities Act and Design Standards
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that all of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design became effective on March 15 with one exception. DOJ has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (the details had not been published in the Federal Register at the time of this Capitol Insider) asking for comments about extending the timeline for compliance with the portion of the standards that pertain to existing swimming pools. The Administration indicated that there were “misunderstandings” by the hotel and lodging industry about the portion of the standards dealing with swimming pools, lifts, and access. The standards are part of the revised regulations for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The new standards will make buildings and facilities accessible to more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. The accessibility requirements apply to many kinds of facilities, including sports stadiums, court rooms, amusement rides, and play areas.
Civil Rights – Opportunity to Serve on Advisory Committee on Accessibility and Diagnostic Equipment
The Access Board is looking for a cross section of stakeholders, including medical device manufacturers, health care providers, disability groups, and standard-setting organizations to participate on an advisory committee to assist in finalizing standards for diagnostic equipment that were released in February. The proposed standards, which remain available for comment until June 8, include design criteria for independent access to diagnostic equipment, including types that require transfer from wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
A notice published by the Board provides further details, including application instructions. The deadline for applications is April 27. The committee is expected to meet at least four times over the course of two months beginning in September. Participation will be voluntary and members will not be reimbursed for their services.