Major Events Last Week
Appropriations – Senate advances Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 L-HHS-ED Appropriations bill, provides for mostly level funding of disability-related programs and a few increases
The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) Appropriations Subcommittee quickly marked up and passed S. 3295
, the L-HHS-ED bill, along party lines. The full Senate Appropriations Committee followed two days later, passing the bill along party lines by a vote of 16 to 14. The bill provides level funding for most disability-related discretionary programs
, and included a few increases over the amounts requested in the President’s Budget. Highlights of the spending bill include:
- IDEA —The bill provides $11.678 billion, an increase of $100 million, under section 611 of part B grants to States for educating students with disabilities between the age of 3 and 21. The bill also includes $463 million, an increase of $20 million, to support statewide systems of coordinated and early intervention services for children with disabilities two years old and younger, as well as their families.
- Respite – The bill includes $4.9 million for the Lifespan Respite Care program, nearly double the amount this program received in FY 2012.
- Assistive Technology—The bill provides $37.5 million, an increase of $4.7 million, for State assistive technology programs. These programs support a range of activities to serve people with disabilities, including State financing programs, device reutilization and loan programs, and device demonstrations.
- Disability Hearings at the Social Security Administration (SSA)—The bill includes $11.736 billion, a $290 million increase, for SSA’s administrative expenses. This increase will support SSA’s efforts to eliminate the disability hearings backlog by the end of fiscal year 2013.
- Promoting School Readiness for Minors in SSI (PROMISE)—In FY 2012, Congress created PROMISE, an interagency effort to improve outcomes for children, and the families of children, receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. PROMISE was created to encourage State-level innovations that can help young people with disabilities enter and succeed in competitive, integrated employment. The bill includes nearly $12 million and the authority to allocate unspent vocational rehabilitation State grant funds within the Department of Education for this effort, in addition to $7.2 million at SSA.
Despite the Senate action, this specific bill is unlikely to be enacted due to the differences between the House and Senate. The House Appropriations Committee is working with the $1.028 billion limit set by the “Ryan Budget” while the Senate is using the higher $1.047 billion limit set by the Budget Control Act. Instead, one or more continuing resolution is anticipated to keep the federal government operating into the beginning of the fiscal year which begins on October 1, 2012.
Major Events This Week
Civil Rights – Senate to Hold Hearing on Olmstead
On Thursday, June 21 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on “Olmstead Enforcement Update: Using the ADA to Promote Community Integration.” The hearing will start at 10:00 AM EDT. Visit the Committee’s web site to review the hearing notice, download statements, and view live video the day of the hearing.
Autism/Intellectual Disability – The Arc comments on draft Diagnostic criteria
On June 15, The Arc submitted comments to the American Psychiatric Association regarding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) draft diagnostic criteria for “Intellectual Developmental Disorder” and “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” DSM definitions are critically important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as numerous federal and state programs as well as private health insurance plans use the DSM to determine eligibility for critical services and supports. Changes to the diagnostic criteria could have devastating effects on individuals with I/DD who need services, supports, and basic protections to remain in their communities. For instance, some individuals could lose eligibility for special education services, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), supportive housing, and protections against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if changes are made to the DSM and later adopted by government agencies. Read The Arc’s letter.
Civil Rights – Bipartisan legislation to remove term “mentally retarded” from the Social Security Act introduced in the U.S. Senate
Senate Bill 3289 was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that, among other things, would remove the antiquated term “mentally retarded” from the Social Security Act. The term would be changed to “intellectually disabled.” The bill builds on the 2010 Rosa’s Law which updated the language in numerous health and education bills.
Long term services and supports – Iowa, Georgia, Mississippi, and Missouri receive grants from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Four new states received grants from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Balancing Incentives Payment Program(BIPP). Iowa, Georgia, Mississippi and Missouri will join New Hampshire and Maryland in rebalancing their long term services budgets by diverting people from institutions into community-based settings.