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Major Events Last Week
Medicaid — Medicare Payment Advisory Commission discusses Duals
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC
) devoted an hour and one-half to discussion about the proposals to integrate and coordinate care for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare (Duals) that states are designing. Commission members expressed concern about automatic enrollment of Duals in managed care plans. The Commission Chair, Glenn Hackbarth, said that matching health plans with beneficiaries who have complex health needs will be critically important. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has estimated that the demonstrations will enroll up to two million (20%) of the nation’s Duals. Another commissioner wondered where Duals who choose to opt out of managed care plans would go – would there be something to opt into. Commissioners also discussed the size of the demonstrations and wondered where comparison groups would be if a state plans to enroll all of its Duals in the demonstration. One commissioner thought that the proposals were more like Medicaid waivers than Medicare demonstrations. Although commissioners expressed unease about the demonstrations, they concluded the discussion by emphasizing the need to change the status quo which does not necessarily ensure quality care and is very costly.
Civil Rights – Legislation Introduced to Roll Back Requirements on Swimming Pool Accessibility
Two additional bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in response to theDepartment of Justice (DOJ) rule that requires new swimming pools to be accessible to people with disabilities. Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 4200
, which has 13 co-sponsors and would prohibit the Attorney General from enforcing the regulation. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) introduced H.R. 4256
, which has 46 co-sponsors and would direct the Attorney General to revise the rule so that portable lifts would be acceptable for providing access to swimming pools even if a permanent lift was readily achievable and so that one portable lift is adequate even if there is more than one pool at a facility. The bills are similar to S. 2186
and S. 2191
introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), which would prohibit the Attorney General from administering or enforcing certain accessibility regulations relating to pools at public accommodations or provided by public entities. These bills are of concern to The Arc because they respond to an industry’s reluctance to comply with access standards designed to make public accommodations accessible to people with disabilities. Any roll back of any part of the Americans with Disabilities Act represents a roll back of the civil rights of individuals with disabilities.
Education – Local Districts Required to Fulfill Maintenance of Effort
The Department of Education retracted informal guidance it had given to local school districts concerning the maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The MOE requirement was built into IDEA to protect students with disabilities from economic and political funding decisions. In June 2011, the Department had advised the National Association of State Directors of Special Education that if districts lowered special education funding (there are a few very specific exceptions to the MOE requirement), districts could base future funding on the lowered amount. The Arc joined several advocacy organizations in asking the Department to re-think its interpretation of the MOE requirement in IDEA and to retract the guidance.
In a letter
sent to the Center for Law and Education on April 4, the Department said that upon further review, they had determined that the amount of money a district must spend on special education in a year after it had not able to maintain effort is the amount that it should have spent
in the prior year, and not the district’s actual expenditures. The Department concluded its letter by indicating it planned to seek public comment on the issue.
Civil Rights – Court Ruling Overturned Regarding Segregating Individuals with Mental Illness
On technical grounds, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a lower federal court ruling that New York’s practice of segregating individuals with mental illness in large, congregate settings called adult homes was discrimination. The lower court had ordered the state to provide smaller community-based settings for over 4,000 individuals who live in the adult homes. The reason the appeals court overturned the decision was its finding that Disability Advocates, Inc. (DAI), a private non-profit agency that contracts with the state’s protection and advocacy system to provide legal services to individuals with mental illness, did not have standing to file the lawsuit.
Employment – Department of Labor Announces “Employment First” Grants
Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez announced first-of-its-kind grant funding for four states under the “Employment First” initiative
. The effort helps facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities into the workplace and community. Under the new Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program, the states of Iowa, Oregon, and Tennessee will receive grants to assist with planning, policy development, and capacity building. In addition to receiving technical assistance from national experts in employment of people with significant disabilities, these states also will receive assistance from officials in the state of Washington — which is receiving a grant for mentoring.
Housing – April is Fair Housing Month
This April is the 44th
anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (gender), familial status, and disability. This year’s theme
is “Live Free: Creating Equal Opportunity in Every Community.” Fair Housing Month events
are being held all over the nation.
Register for Disability Policy Seminar
Make your plans to attend the 2012 Disability Policy Seminar
in 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
on Tuesday, April 24, for seminar attendees only, 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.
Hotel information: The Grand Hyatt is sold out
. Please check with the hotels below for accommodations during the Disability Policy Seminar:
Marriott Metro Center
One block from Grand Hyatt Washington
Renaissance Washington, DC
2 blocks from Grand Hyatt Washington
Embassy Suites Washington, DC – Convention Center
2 blocks from Grand Hyatt Washington
Hyatt Regency Washington
400 New Jersey Ave NW
1.1 Miles from Grand Hyatt Washington
Accessible by Metro from Judiciary Square
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. Make your appointments now for Wednesday, April 25.