Major threats to disability services are included in the U.S. House Republican Proposed Budget. See details in this weeks Capitol Insider.


Capitol Insider
for the Week of March 26, 2012 
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Major Events Last Week
Budget – House Republican Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Released; Would Be Very Harmful to People with Disabilities

On March 20, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution, a blueprint for spending and tax policy. The release of the “Ryan budget” is the first Congressional step in what is sure to be a lengthy, partisan battle over appropriations levels, tax policy, and deficit reduction.   This plan would cut nondefense spending by $5.3 trillion over 10 years, while cutting taxes for corporations and upper income individuals. It would be very harmful for people with disabilities as mandatory programs that people with disabilities rely on (Medicaid, Medicare) would be significantly cut and/or restructured, funding for critical discretionary programs (such as housing, education, employment, & transportation) would be slashed, and the health care reform law would be repealed. Specifically:

  • Medicaid would be cut by $810 billion over 10 years (a 33% cut), converted to a block grant, and all “dual eligibles” would be placed entirely in the Medicare program.
  • Medicarewould be converted to a “premium support program” by offering vouchers to purchase private insurance or the traditional Medicare program starting in FY 2023 for new beneficiaries. This would end the Medicare guarantee and raise health care costs for people with disabilities and seniors.
  • Non-Defense Discretionary programswould be cut by $800 billion below the amount of the automatic spending cuts from the Budget Control Act (an approximate cut of 9%).
  • Social Securityreforms to provide solvency over the next 75 years would be considered under an expedited Congressional process, as opposed to normal deliberation.

The following day, the House Budget Committee narrowly passed a fairly clean version of the Ryan Budget and the full House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on it this week. The Senate, however, is not likely to vote on a FY 2013 Budget as the Budget Control Act already set spending caps for FY 2012 to 2021.
It is doubtful that federal funding issues, including the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, will 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.
Employment – Bill Introduced to Reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act

Representatives George Miller (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) introduced H.R. 4227, the Workforce Investment Act of 2012. The bill seeks to reauthorize and modernize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Provisions related to vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities would require training to be tied to competitive employment opportunities, expand training for self-employment and microenterprises, expand in-school and post-school pre-employment services, expand outreach and services to employers, and expand independent living services and resources. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Social Security – House Holds 3rd Hearing on Securing the Future of SSDI

The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held the third in a hearing series on “Securing the Future of the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” The hearing focused on how Social Security Disability Insurance eligibility decisions are made, including the definition of disability and the Federal-State relationship. At the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced that the next hearing in the series will focus on the appeals process. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony or to view a webcastof the hearing.
Employment and Social Security – Senate holds Hearing on Stay-at-Work and Back-to-Work Strategies

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on “Stay-at-Work and Back-to-Work Strategies: Lessons from the Private Sector.” The hearing featured representatives from the private sector who shared strategies they use to keep employees who acquire disabilities at work or to help them return to work. Witnesses discussed the supports that employers can provide in terms of accommodations and adaptations to the work environment, as well as how employees, employers, family members, and health professionals can work together to keep people in their jobs or to return quickly to their jobs. The hearing also included discussion of whether lessons from the private sector might be relevant for Social Security Disability Insurance. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony and view a webcast of the hearing.
Civil Rights – Department of Justice extends Compliance Date for Accessibility and Swimming Pools

The Department of Justice (DOJ) extended the date for compliance with accessibility requirements for existing swimming pools and spas for 60 days due to misunderstandings among a substantial number of pool owners. The original compliance date was March 15, 2012. DOJ has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to grant an additional extension of six months and is seeking comments on its proposal. The Arc plans to submit comments urging DOJ not to further delay compliance with its accessibility rules. These rules were made final in September 2010 and were based on standards developed by the US Access Board in 2004. The Arc is concerned that by delaying implementation of the access rule for one industry, other businesses might believe that they too can avoid making their businesses accessible if they do not like the rule. Comments are due on or before April 4 and may be submitted at!submitComment;D=DOJ-CRT-2012-0006-0001.

Major Events Ahead
Health Care – U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Affordable Care Act Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on four issues in the consolidated cases on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being heard this week from March 26 – 28. The questions are:
1. Whether Congress had the power to enact the minimum health insurance coverage provision, or individual mandate to have coverage.
2. Whether that provision is severable from the remainder of the ACA if the minimum coverage provision is found unconstitutional. (In other words, is it possible to remove this provision without making the entire law unworkable?)
3. Whether the ACA’s requirement that states expand Medicaid eligibility or risk losing federal funds is unduly coercive.
4. Whether the minimum coverage provision is a tax for the purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act (if it is a tax, then plaintiffs seeking to challenge the provision cannot do so until it goes into effect in 2014).
The Court will hear oral arguments on the Anti-Injunction Act issues on Monday morning (3/26); on the minimum coverage issue on Tuesday morning (3/27); on the severability issue on Wednesday (3/28) morning, and on the Medicaid issue on Wednesday afternoon.
The Arc participated in two amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in support of the constitutionality of the ACA. The Supreme Court allowed organizations to participate in up to one amicus brief per each of the four questions that the Court is considering. The Arc participated in briefs in the following cases/issues:
Department of Health and Human Services, et al, v. Florida
Minimum Coverage (Individual Mandate) Issue:The Arc joined several other advocacy and consumer organizations in filing a brief that supports the ACA’s requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance. The brief argues that a law requiring health insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions cannot function unless it also requires nearly everyone to carry insurance.   This is because, if allowed, people will delay the purchase of insurance until they need expensive care, thereby draining the insurance plan of funds without individuals paying their share. This behavior is known as “adverse selection”.  Seven states have already tried to enact a pre-existing conditions law without a minimum coverage requirement and all seven states saw skyrocketing premiums or worse. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, the one state to enact both pre-existing conditions coverage as well as minimum coverage, saw its premiums go down 40 percent.  
Florida, et al, v. Department of Health and Human Services
Expansion of Medicaid Coverage Issue:The Arc joined several other advocacy and consumer organizations in filing a brief that supports the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid coverage. The brief argues that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion is a valid exercise of Congress’ authority to enact legislation under the Constitution’s “Spending Clause,” which empowers Congress to offer money to the states with strings attached. The amicus brief addresses the potential impact of a finding of unconstitutionality on the Medicaid program as well as on other programs in which states similarly receive federal funds in exchange for complying with federal requirements.
Audio Recordings Available:Because of the extraordinary public interest in this case, the Court will provide the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on an expedited basis through the Court’s website. The audio recordings and transcripts of the March 26-28 morning sessions should be available no later than 2 p.m. on the day of the discussion. The recording and transcript of the March 28 afternoon session should be available no later than 4 p.m. that day. The Court’s websitecurrently provides links to the orders, briefs, and other information about the case.
Budget – House to Vote on Budget Proposal This Week
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the “Ryan budget” later this week, either on Wednesday or Thursday, before adjourning for a two week Congressional recess. See the Budget article above for specifics on how this budget plan would impact people with I/DD.
Again, the Senate is not likely to vote on a 2013 Budget as the Budget Control Act already set spending caps for FY 2012 to 2021.
It is doubtful that federal funding issues, including the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013, will 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.
Register for Disability Policy Seminar
Make your plans to attend the 2012 Disability Policy Seminarin Washington, D.C. April 23-25. 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.  
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.
Employment – Federal Workforce Annual Report Released with Data on Employing People with Disabilities

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its Annual Report on the Federal Work Force II: Work Force Statistics, Fiscal Year (FY) 2010. There were over 2.8 million employees in 64 federal agencies in FY 2010. Of those employees, only .88% (25,217) were persons with “targeted” disabilities, which includes intellectual disability. Only eleven agencies achieved the federal goal of at least a 2% participation rate for individuals with targeted disabilities. Among agencies with 500 or more employees, the EEOC had the highest percentage of individuals with targeted disabilities (2.67%).
Long Term Services and Supports – National Alzheimer’s Plan Released

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft National Alzheimer’s Plan outlining goals, strategies, and actions needed to address the growing numbers of individuals who have the disease.  The plan emphases the need for long term services and supports systems designed to meet the needs of caregivers and individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementia.  Although the plan makes mention of individuals with intellectual disabilities, The Arc believes that much more emphasis is needed to address individuals with I/DD and Alzheimer’s.  People with Down syndrome tend to experience the challenges of Alzheimer’s at younger ages than the typical population.  The needs of individuals with I/DD and Alzheimer’s pose special challenges to the service system.  The Arc is submitting comments to HHS urging inclusion of people with I/DD throughout the National Alzheimer’s Plan.

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)