Recent Major Events
Tax – ABLE Act Introduced in the 113th Congress
Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities was introduced by Senators Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) in the Senate, and Representatives Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the House of Representatives. The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013 (ABLE Act; S. 313, H.R. 647) would create ABLE savings accounts that allow people with disabilities to save for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation. ABLE accounts would be disregarded when determining eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, and other means-tested programs. The Arc strongly supports this legislation.
The legislation has 59 original House cosponsors and 16 original Senate cosponsors.
Housing – HUD and HHS Announce Awards of $98 Million for Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly announced the FY 2012 awards for the new HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Demonstration. The Section 811 PRA Demonstration is designed to assist state housing agencies to expand integrated supportive housing opportunities for people with the most significant and long term disabilities, and was the centerpiece of the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010. A total of 13 states will receive $98 million to produce 3,530 units of integrated supportive housing for people with disabilities. Learn more on The Arc’s blog.
Budget – Senate Democrats Reach Agreement on How to Avoid Automatic Cuts
Before leaving for the President’s Day recess, Senate Democrats reached general agreement on how to avoid the automatic cuts scheduled to take effect March 1st. The $110 billion budget package is evenly divided between new tax revenues and spending cuts. The spending cuts come largely from farm subsidies and future defense spending after 2015. The majority of the tax revenues would come from a new 30 percent minimum tax on those with adjusted gross incomes over $1 million a year. The Senate is expected to consider the measure when the Senate reconvenes next week. This approach to avoiding the automatic cuts is not likely to be supported in the House of Representatives.
Social Security – Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act Reintroduced
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) have reintroduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act (S. 308 and H.R. 649). The legislation strengthens Social Security’s long-term financing by gradually phasing out the cap on earnings subject to payroll contributions. It also adopts a more accurate measure of the inflation experienced by seniors and people with disabilities for annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments – helping to make sure that benefits keep up with rising costs. The bills were introduced during the 112th Congress, but did not advance. S. 308 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance; H.R. 649 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health. The Arc supports this legislation.
Long Term Services and Support – Congressional Leadership Appoint Members to New Commission on Long Term Care
Last week, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) each appointed three members to a new Commission on Long Term Care. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) each appointed three members to the Commission as well. The Commission was created in the American Taxpayer Relief Act that took effect on January 1, 2013 and replaced the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
The commission will be comprised of members named by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, House Speaker Boehner, and House Minority Leader Pelosi. Below is a list of the current members of the commission, President Obama has not made his appointments to the commission.
- Bruce D. Greenstein is the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
- Neil L. Pruitt, Jr. is Chairman and Chief Executive officer of UHS-Pruitt Corporation, an integrated health care company.
- Mark J. Warshawsky, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, Treasury Department.
- Judith Brachman currently serves as a member of the Ohio State Crime Victims Assistance Advisory Board.
- Stephen L. Guillard serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of Belmont Nursing Center Corp.
- Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization that she founded in 1995 to promote an informed debate over free-market ideas for health reform.
- Dr. Bruce Allen Chernof currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of The SCAN Foundation, with the mission to advance the development of a sustainable continuum of care for seniors.
- Judith Stein is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.
- George Vrandenburg is a civic activist, philanthropist, and President of the Vrandenburg Foundation.
- Laphonza Butler is the President of SEIU ULTCW – the United Long Term Care Workers’ Union which represents in-home attendants and nursing facility workers in California.
- Judith “Judy” Feder is a Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University and was Dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute from 1999 through 2007.
- Javaid Anwar, M.D. is the CEO of Quality Care Consultants which provides consultant services in health care strategy and policy development for employers and health care organizations.
Medicaid – First Focus Releases New Report, “Medicaid Per Capita Caps Jeopardize the Health of Children and Other Vulnerable Populations”
First Focus, a non-partisan children’s advocacy organization, has issued a new report on why some proposals to cut mandatory spending, particularly by imposing “per capita caps” on Medicaid expenditures, would be bad for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. This mechanism would replace the current federal-state Medicaid structure by placing arbitrary limits on federal support to states based on subpopulations (e.g. children, adults, individuals with disabilities, seniors). The analysis concludes that these caps would be just as harmful as block grants. Additionally, the report outlines that these caps would: (1) lead to administrative complexity, requiring carve outs of the Medicaid population to decide different funding categories, (2) shift costs to the states once the cap is reached, and (3) lead states to ration care by cutting reimbursement rates to providers or increasing barriers to coverage for eligible people. Sen. Hatch (R-UT) has already introduced a bill suggesting the use of per capita caps. See the full analysis here.
Medicaid / Medicare/ Social Security – Majority of House Democrats Oppose Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security Benefits
A majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reject proposals to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits in any bill to replace the across-the-board cuts to discretionary programs through sequestration. The letter was signed by 107 House Democrats. CCD also sent a letter to the President supporting his position to protect Medicaid from cuts.
Join Us for the Disability Policy Seminar
Make your plans to attend the 2013 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. April 15-17. This event is the biggest and best opportunity for advocates to advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The unique platform offers you the opportunity to come together with other advocates, learn about the issues, and speak with your elected officials about what is important to you. Get the best rates and availability for the event at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington, D.C. when you register before March 12 and find out more about this year’s program at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org.
Hosted by: The Arc, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE)