Help Protect Disability Programs – Call to End Tax Cuts for the Top 2 Percent
National Call Congress Week July 16-20
Major Events Last Week
Education – Senate holds hearing about restraint and seclusion
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing last week entitled, “Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for all Students.” Four individuals offered testimony about positive alternatives to restraint and seclusion. To view testimony from each witness visit the HELP Committee website: http://tash.org/recap-of-senate-help-committee-hearing-on-restraint-seclusion/
Earlier this year, 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 (S. 2020
, HR 1381
Civil Rights – Senate holds hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Avideo
of the hearing was archived. The committee will again consider and vote on the CRPD on July 19. The Arc continues to work with others to educate all Senators about the importance of the CRPD and urge its ratification.
Employment – The Department of Health and Human Services announces it will consider state TANF waiver requests
On July 12, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted an Information Memorandum (IM) and sent a letter to state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) officials to “notify states of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.” This means HHS has determined that it has authority to grant states waivers of the TANF work participation rate requirements under the existing Social Security Act waiver authority. The notice specifies that “HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.” Examples provided by HHS of the types of projects for which waiver might be granted include “projects that demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities, along with an alternative approach to measuring participation and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.“ The Arc supports efforts to secure appropriate supports and services for TANF recipients with disabilities, who are estimated to make up a sizable proportion of TANF recipients.
Prevention – Senators call for reform of the toxic chemicals law
On July 9, a bipartisan group of 26 Senators sent a letter calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize its rulemaking regarding a class of toxic flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardants are toxic chemicals suspected to cause developmental problems, neurological deficits, cancer, and impaired fertility. The letter also acknowledges that the EPA has limited authority to fully protect the public from these toxic chemicals under the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and calls for reforms to the law to adequately protect American families from dangerous chemicals. Under the TSCA of 1976, the burden is on the EPA to prove chemicals are dangerous, rather than on companies to prove they are safe. The law requires manufacturers to submit safety data only if they have it. Most don’t, resulting in the EPA knowing little, if anything, about the safety of most of the 84,000 industrial compounds in use in the U.S. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), would reform the law by requiring chemical companies to demonstrate the safety of industrial chemicals and EPA to evaluate safety based on the best available science. The Arc supports the Safe Chemicals Act. Learn more at Safer Chemicals, Healthier Communities, a diverse coalition of organizations of which The Arc is a member.
Medicaid – Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services responds to Medicaid Questions
The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, responded to questions being raised by states about what the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means for Medicaid. In response to concerns from states Secretary Sebelius reiterated that the Supreme Court’s decision did not affect other provisions of the law. For example, the decision did not change the fact that the federal government will completely pay for coverage under the eligibility expansion through 2016. The letter also announced four ACA regional implementation forums.
In another letter, the Secretary reiterated that there is no deadline for a state to tell HHS its plans on Medicaid eligibility. The department is expected to offer additional guidance in the future.
Medicaid – The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services issues State Medicaid Letter on Integrated Care
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) has issued guidance to Medicaid directors on integrated care models (ICMs). ICMs include initiatives such as medical/health homes, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), ACO-like models, and other arrangements that emphasize person-centered, continuous, coordinated, and comprehensive care. To view the guidance http://www.medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/downloads/SMD-12-001.pdf.
Major Events This Week
Appropriations – House subcommittee scheduled to mark up Labor-HHS-Ed bill on Wednesday
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) is scheduled to mark up its FY 2013 spending bill that funds the majority of disability-related programs on July 18. The Senate Appropriations committee passed its version of the bill last month. Regardless of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ actions, these specific bills are unlikely to be enacted due to the differences between the chambers. The House Appropriations Committee is working with a budget limit that is $19 billion below the limit the Senate Appropriations Committee is using. Instead, one or more continuing resolutions is anticipated to keep the federal government operating into the post-election “lame duck” session of Congress.
Social Security – Hearing on Use of Technology to Improve the Administration of SSI’s Financial Eligibility Requirements
On Friday July 20th the House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the use of technology to improve the administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program’s financial eligibility requirements. Visit the Committee web site for more information and for live video the day of the hearing.