Protect Disability Programs in End of Year Budget Decisions
Major Events Last Week
Civil Rights – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Defeated in the Senate
The Senate vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) fell short of the 66 needed – two thirds of Senators who voted ( Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) was absent). Former Senator Bob Dole, a champion of the Americans with Disabilities Act, was present on the Senate floor and urged his fellow Republicans to vote in favor of the CRPD. Unfortunately, his plea, along with the strong support of several Republican Senators and policy leaders and the disability community, was not enough to overcome the unfounded fears raised by the opposition. The final vote was 61-38.
Employment – House Marks up Workforce Investment Act Legislation
Last week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up H.R. 4297, the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012. The bill consolidates more than 20 Federal job training programs into a Workforce Investment Fund that would provide formula funds to state and local workforce investment boards for employment and training programs. Under the bill, states would have the option of including vocational rehabilitation (VR) State Grants in the Workforce Investment Fund. The bill also would consolidate the Projects with Industry and State-Supported Employment Services Programs into the existing VR State Grants program. Last week, the bill was also discharged from the Committees on Judiciary, Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, and Transportation, and was referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for a period ending not later than Dec. 14, 2012. The Arc opposes this legislation.
Social Security – Bill Introduced to Strengthen Cost-of-Living Adjustments, Long-Term Financing
Last week, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced S. 3651 the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act. The bill proposes using a more appropriate method of calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security benefits, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E). The CPI-E takes into account costs and spending patterns for the elderly, such as average higher spending on medicines. Beneficiaries would receive slightly higher COLAs, on average, under the CPI-E as compared with an index that is currently used to calculate the Social Security COLA. The bill would also apply Social Security payroll taxes to all income, lifting the current cap that exempts annual income over approximately $114,000 from payroll taxes. This will help to ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security system. The Arc supports efforts to ensure that Social Security benefits are adequate and that the system remains financially strong.
Social Security – SSA Announces 35 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions; The Arc’s Marty Ford Honored
Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the expansion of the list of conditions that qualify under SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program for expedited disability claims processing. SSA has added 35 new Compassionate Allowance conditions, bringing the total number of conditions to 200. At an event on Capitol Hill announcing this expansion, The Arc’s Marty Ford was also presented with an award recognizing her longstanding leadership and commitment to the Social Security disability programs.
Major Events This Week
Housing – Senate to Hold Hearing on The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs
On December 11, the Senate Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on “Streamlining and Strengthening the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” The Honorable Sandra B. Henriquez, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing at HUD, will testify. This hearing is a continuation from August. Visit the Committee’s web site to view testimony and a live stream on the day of the hearing.
Health/Prevention – CDC to hold webinar on Health and Disability
On December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm EST, the CDC will offer a free webinar entitled “Public Health Grand Rounds: Where in health is disability? Public health practices to include people with disabilities.” Staff from the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects’ Division of Human Development and Disability will join a panel of other public health experts to:
- Describe who people with disabilities are, and why they are important to public health
- Present data demonstrating health differences and risk factors of poor health for people with disabilities
- Demonstrate physical activity programs implemented by CDC’s Arthritis program to enable people to live well with functional limitations
- Highlight CDC state grantees’ experience in modifying existing health programs to accommodate people with disabilities
- Demonstrate best practices for the inclusion of disability in national public health organizations
You can also participate and promote disability and health in advance of the event on Twitter – just
make sure to use the hashtag: #cdcgrandrounds. To view the live webcast, visit the CDC website.
Put a Face on Medicaid, SSI, Social Security
As Congress reconvenes for a post-election session where potential changes or cuts to programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security may be put on the table, we need your help to put a face on the importance of these programs by sharing lifeline stories about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
The Arc’s national office needs stories from self-advocates, parents, and other family members, chapters of The Arc, other service providers, and friends. We have to put a face on programs like Medicaid, SSI, and Social Security in order to convince Congress to protect these programs from devastating cuts during budget negotiations. More than 200 stories have been submitted from 22 states. This is a great start, but it is critical that we receive sufficient stories from across the country.
Please share this survey with your members, the families you serve, and other organizations in your community so that we can gather as many stories as possible, and quickly, so that The Arc can help protect these lifeline programs.