|Major Events Last Week
Budget – Automatic, Across-the-board Cuts Set into Motion
With the Administration and Congress failing to reach a deal, President Obama issued a brief sequestration order on March 1, and a report that lays out the federal accounts to be cut and their percentages for FY 2013. While the report lists each account that is subject to the automatic cuts, it remains to be seen how and when many of the agencies will apportion the cuts to programs that fall under them. For example, there is cut of 5% for “CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support” and it is not clear at this point how much discretion the CDC will have in apportioning cuts to the many activities and programs (such as the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities) that fall under it.
It should be noted since the cuts of approximately 5.3% for non-defense discretionary programs are for the entire fiscal year, cuts will be on the order of nearly 10% for the remaining 7 months of the fiscal year. See the sequestration report at the White House website.
The Department of Health and Human Services listing of accounts begins on page 24.
Medicaid / Medicare / Dually Eligible – Illinois to Begin Implementing State’s Proposal to Integrate Medicare and Medicaid Funding
The Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office in CMS negotiated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Illinois to begin implementing the state’s proposal to integrate Medicare and Medicaid funding and to coordinate health and long term care for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who reside in an institution or who receive home and community based services through a waiver are excluded from the project.
Employment – RISE Out of Poverty Act Reintroduced
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) has reintroduced the Rewriting to Improve and Secure an Exit Out of Poverty Act of 2013, also known as the RISE Out of Poverty Act (H.R. 814), to reauthorize the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Major proposed reforms include increasing state block grants and indexing them annually for inflation, providing new funding for child care and subsidized employment, mandating guaranteed child care for all work-eligible parents, and requiring states to provide benefit levels that meet basic family needs. The bill would revamp work requirements to support education and training, and allow people with disabilities and family caregivers to participate in a modified plan of work or job preparation. The bill also would enhance screening for disabilities, and require detailed annual reporting on beneficiaries with disabilities. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and, in addition, to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Employment – House Holds Hearing on State TANF Waivers; Legislation to Block Waivers Introduced
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing on “Waiving Work Requirements in the TANF Program.” The hearing focused on the implementation of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Information Memorandum (IM) issued July 12, 2012 notifying states that HHS will consider state proposals to waive work participation requirements under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
The HHS IM indicated “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.” 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 showed the different types of projects for which a waiver might be granted, including “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.
Visit the Committee web site to view testimony from the hearing, including video.
Employment – Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act Reintroduced
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced H.R. 3086, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011. The bill seeks to immediately end issuance of new special wage certificates for workers with disabilities under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to phase out existing certificates over a 3 year period. Similar legislation was introduced in the 112th Congress by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-NY), but did not advance. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which has scheduled no action on the bill. There is no companion bill in the Senate.
Major Events Ahead
Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on the Social Security Administration’s Budget
On March 6, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing on “Addressing Social Security Administration’s Management Challenges in a Fiscally Constrained Environment.” Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, will testify. Visit the Committee web site for more information and to view testimony and video on the day of the hearing.
Social Security – House to Hold Hearing on SSDI Financing
On March 7, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Financing Challenges Facing the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” Visit the Committee web site for more information and to view testimony and video on the day of the hearing.
Entitlement Programs – House of Representatives to hold hearing on “Saving Seniors and Our Most Vulnerable Citizens from an Entitlement Crisis.”
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on March 6, 2013, entitled, “Saving Seniors and Our Most Vulnerable Citizens from an Entitlement Crisis.” The hearing will be webcast at http://energycommerce.house.gov/
Disability Policy Seminar – Time is Running Out, Register Today!
This is your last chance to register to attend the Disability Policy Seminar this April 15-17 in Washington, D.C. at special early registration rates. Hurry! Hotel rooms are booking fast and after March 12, rates will go up. Each attendee will receive a FREE copy of the special AAIDD journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The latest edition of the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities from the University of Colorado and the University of Illinois at Chicago will also be available. Register now at www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org.