Leaders in The Arc:

Today is my first day back in the office since last Thursday, so catching up
is a little hard to do!

I spent a lot of time with our national staff in Washington D.C. learning
about all of the threats to community services at the convention. Things are
getting worse by the day and we need your advocacy to respond to the threats
to Medicaid and other important services. Please respond to the alerts

I have also invited our Mary Ford, Director of Public Policy for The Arc to
our Annual Leadership Conference, February 2-3, 2011, to present on events
in Washington and the US Congress.

Here is the latest edition of the Capitol Insider from Arc US. See the
summary of pre-vocational services changes.

Tony Paulauski
The Arc of Illinois

Capitol Insider
for the Week of September 20, 2011

Action Alerts

Good News and Action Needed Today: Urge Your Representative to Pass the
Combating Autism Act Reauthorization

Time to get back on the phones and say “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline!”

Major Events Last Week

Budget/Deficit Reduction – Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
holds first hearing; Few specific program cuts were discussed.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction held its first public
hearing on September 13. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug
Elmendorf testified on “The History and Drivers of Our Nation’s Debt and Its
Threats.” Committee members spent most of the time questioning the CBO
director and debating the historical causes of the deficit, rather than
discussing possible plans for reducing it in the future. The bipartisan
Committee, established by the Budget Control Act, is charged with
identifying $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction which can include spending
cuts from all entitlement and discretionary programs as well as revenue
increases. It is expected to finalize its plan by late October or early
November in order to allow sufficient time for the Congressional Budget
Office to develop cost estimates before the Nov 23 deadline for Congress to
vote on its legislative proposal. Learn more about the Budget Control
and how it may affect funding for discretionary disability-related
. For video archive of the hearing click here.
Employment – Senate hearing focuses on employment of people with the most
significant disabilities

On September 15th the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP)
Committee held a hearing on “The Future of Employment for People with
the Most Significant Disabilities.” The hearing was one in a series
sponsored by HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) designed to help the
Committee identify barriers and policy solutions to the high unemployment
rate for people with the most significant disabilities. Witnesses
participated in a roundtable-style discussion with Senator Harkin and other
Committee Members. Click here to view an archived webcast of the

Home and Community Based Waivers and Pre-vocational Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Infrmational
Bulletin to update its Waiver Technical Guide Version 3.5 and clarify its
position on employment and employment related services. In the update, CMS
emphasized the importance of competitive work for people with disabilities
and highlighted its goal to promote integrated employment options through
the waiver program. The TA Guide added a new core service definition by
splitting supported employment into two definitions – individual and small
group supported employment. It clarified that volunteer work and other
unpaid integrated community employment activities are pre-vocational
services, not supported employment services. The TA guide also clarified
that pre-vocational services are designed to help obtain competitive
employment and are time-limited although no specific limit is given in the

Major Events Ahead

Medicaid – President Obama’s plan for deficit reduction and what it means
for Medicaid

On September 19^th, President Obama outlined a set of proposals to
reduce the nation’s debt by more than $4 trillion and fund the American
Jobs Act
. The plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues.
These cuts are in addition to the $1 trillion in spending that has already
been cut from the budget under the Budget Control Act. As stated by the
President, his proposals include “structural reforms to reduce the cost of
health care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” as well as cuts to many
other parts of the Federal budget. The plan has been sent to the
Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction for their
consideration as they seek to develop a proposal to reduce the nation’s
deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

To help pay for the plan, the President proposed $320 billion in health
savings over the next decade with approximately $248 billion in cuts to
Medicare and $73 billion in Medicaid cuts. The proposed Medicaid changes
include phasing down but not eliminating the use of Medicaid provider taxes,
limiting federal reimbursement for certain durable medical equipment,
simplifying the federal Medicaid payment formulas for states and other
changes. The Arc will be analyzing the proposals to assess the impact on
people with intellectual and or developmental disabilities and their
families. The Arc remains concerned that Medicaid program cannot bear deep
cuts that will likely result in cost shifting to low income Americans and to
the states.

Budget/Deficit Reduction – Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to
hold second public hearing this week

Committee Co-Chairs, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Senator Patty
Murray (D-WA), announced that the next hearing open to the public will occur
on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 10 a.m. EST. The hearing will include an
overview on Revenue Options and Reforming the Tax Code. The Arc strongly
supports a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, since greater revenues
would result in fewer spending cuts for disability-related programs. The
hearing will be available to watch on C-SPAN at http://www.c-span.org/

and on the Committee’s new website at http://deficitreduction.senate.gov/public/.

Autism – Combating Autism Reauthorization Act to be voted on this evening
by the House of Representatives

The House bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (H.R. 2005) is on
the “Suspension Calendar” for today, Tuesday, September 20 at 6:30 p.m. This
means that the House bill will be passed on a fast-track procedure without
committee consideration. Congressional rules require 2/3 of the
Representatives present to vote for the bill to be successfully passed under
this procedure. Despite its name, this bill would provide, among other
things, continued funding to educate professionals about proper screening,
diagnosis, and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder as
well as many other developmental disabilities. The bill must still pass the
full Senate and the House of Representatives before Sept. 30. See action
alert above.
Copyright © 2011 The Arc of Illinois, All rights reserved.