Civil Rights – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
With Congress’ return next week, there is a possibility that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) could come to the Senate for approval. Sixty votes would be needed for approval. The Arc and other advocates have been working hard to educate Senators about what the treaty would mean for the US. Ratification of the treaty would reinforce the leadership role our country plays in disability rights. Ratification would require no change to any of our existing laws. Contact your Senators and urge them to vote YES on the CRPD.
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Recent Major Events
Social Security – SSI’s 40th Anniversary Highlights Importance for People with Disabilities
October 30th marked the 40th anniversary of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI provides vital monthly income support to low-income children and adults with significant disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Benefits help people with disabilities live in the community and pay for necessities such as housing, clothing, and medicine. Learn more about the importance of SSI on The Arc’s blog and in a Huffington Post column by the Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and about threats to the program in a New York Times letter to the editor by The Arc’s Marty Ford.
Social Security – Cost of living increase for 2013
Last month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase for 2013. This modest increase will help preserve the buying power of Social Security benefits for nearly 62 million Americans, including many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive benefits under the Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability systems.
According to SSA, the average monthly retirement benefit will increase by $21, from $1,240 in 2012 to $1,261 in 2013. The average monthly benefit for a “disabled worker” will increase by $19, from $1,113 in 2012 to $1,132 in 2013.
To read more visit our blog.
Medicare Change in Policy Will Benefit People with Disabilities
In late October, The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Center for Medicare Advocacy announced a proposed settlement of a nationwide class-action lawsuit that is expected to significantly expand coverage of therapy and skilled nursing services for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions or disabilities. The case, Jimmo v. Sebelius, challenged Medicare’s use of an “improvement standard” in determining medical necessity for skilled nursing services and outpatient therapy on the grounds that it violated Medicare law and deprived Medicare beneficiaries of needed care. That standard effectively denied coverage for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care, home health (HH) care, and outpatient therapy (OPT) services on the basis that an individual was not improving, without regard to the reasonableness and necessity of the care. In reaching an agreement, CMS would agree to revise its Medicare Benefits Policy Manual (MBPM) to clarify that maintenance is covered for skilled therapy services when an individualized assessment of the patient’s clinical condition demonstrates the need for a maintenance program to maintain the patient’s current condition or to prevent or slow further deterioration. Many Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities will benefit from this decision.
Long Term Services and Supports – News for individuals eligible for Medicaid and Medicare in Washington
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) negotiated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state of Washington to test a managed fee-for-service model for integrating health care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. Washington’s plan is called HealthPath Washington. The state will build on the Health Home model.
Education – Results Driven Accountability Effort – Question Five
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in the Department of Education has posted a fifth question about the Results Driven Accountability Effort. The effort is an attempt to focus OSEP’s monitoring of school systems more on outcomes for students with disabilities. OSEP developed a core set of principles to guide its work. Question 5 concerns those principles. OSEP will accept comments on question 5 until November 9, 2012 through its website.
Civil Rights – Enforcement of federal voting rights laws in general election
Last week, The Justice Department announced that its Civil Rights Division plans to deploy more than 780 federal observers and department personnel to 51 jurisdictions in 23 states for the Nov. 6, 2012, general election.
Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.
In the days leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available by telephone to receive complaints related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws (toll free 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 or TTY 1-877-267-8971). In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com and by a complaint form on the department ’s website : www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.
Social Security – Reduced Field Office Hours
The Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to close Social Security field offices to the public 30 minutes early each day, beginning November 19, 2012. For example, a field office that usually closes to the public at 3:30 p.m. will instead close at 3:00 p.m. Additionally, beginning January 2, 2013, SSA plans to close field offices to the public at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Housing – HUD Issues Notice on Housing Choice Voucher Family Moves
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released Notice PIH 2012-42, on “Housing Choice Voucher Family Moves with Continued Assistance.” The notice covers the administrative roles and responsibilities of the “initial” (the initial PHA) and “receiving” (the PHA with jurisdiction over the area to which the family moves) Public Housing Authority (PHA) when a family using a housing choice voucher (also known as a Section 8 voucher) wishes to move from an area in one PHA’s jurisdiction to an area in a different PHA’s jurisdiction. The notice includes language on reasonable accommodations for families that include people with disabilities seeking to move from one area to another.
Family Support – President Obama Proclaims National Family Caregivers Month
The President issued a proclamation declaring November 2012 as National Family Caregivers Month. The proclamation states, “Our Nation’s health care professionals provide essential medical services to millions of Americans, yet they do not shoulder their responsibilities alone. Family members, friends, and neighbors devote countless hours to providing care to their relatives or loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, we recognize and thank the humble heroes who do so much to keep our families and communities strong.”
Read the full proclamation at the White House website.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Finalizes Rules for Increasing Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Primary Care Physicians
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) reconciled low reimbursement rates in the Medicaid program by providing temporary rate increases to encourage more doctor participation in the Medicaid program. The rule implementing this provision will be published this week. It provides that states reimburse certain primary care physicians in calendar years (CYs) 2013 and 2014 at rates not less than the Medicare rates in effect in those CYs. It provides 100 percent federal matching funds for the difference in payment between the applicable Medicare payment in those years and the Medicaid rate in effect as of July 1, 2009.