Capitol Insider
for the Week of May 13, 2013 
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Action Alerts

Pass the ABLE Act in the 113th Congress


Major Events Last Week

Education – Department of Justice Sends Letter to the Department of Public Instruction in Wisconsin to Ensure That Private Voucher Program Schools Do Not Discriminate Against Students With Disabilities

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in Wisconsin directing it to ensure that private voucher program schools do not discriminate against students with disabilities. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and Disability Rights Wisconsin filed a complaint in 2011 alleging that the programs discourage students with disabilities from participating in the voucher program, deny admission to students with disabilities, and expel or otherwise force students with disabilities to leave the programs by failing to accommodate their needs.  DOJ told DPI that, regardless of the fact that the voucher schools are private or secular, the voucher program must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act since public funds are used.

Education – Bill Introduced to Ban Restraint and Seclusion Except in Emergency Situations

Congressman George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education & Workforce Committee, and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R. 1893.  The bill would ban restraint and seclusion except in emergency situations where there is a threat of imminent physical danger.  It would require schools to inform parents on the same day if their child were restrained or secluded.  Mechanical and chemical restraints would be prohibited as would physical restraints that impede breathing.  The bill would promote positive behavioral alternatives for all children, require schools to collect data about the use of restraint and seclusion, and require training for school staff.  The Arc supports the legislation.

Medicaid/Per Person Caps – Medicaid Accountability and Care Act Introduced in the House of Representatives

Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a physician, introduced H.R. 1853, the Medicaid Accountability and Care (MAC) Act of 2013.  The bill would provide for a base amount of funding for each Medicaid beneficiary regardless of where they lived.  People who receive Medicaid would be put into one of four categories: elderly, blind or disabled, children, or adults. The base amount would be adjusted for “factors known to influence their cost of care.”  The Arc is very concerned that the individual entitlement to Medicaid services would be lost under a per person cap payment system and that the long-term services and supports needs of individuals with significant disabilities might exceed the average per person cap. 

Major Events This Week

Civil Rights – Community Leadership Call on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities This Week

On May 16, at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Senator Tom Harkin, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, will be a special guest on a Community Leadership call for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the CRPD. There will be updates about the status of the CRPD and the plan for hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sign up for the call.

Employment – Federal Agencies to Host Online Conversation on Transition for Youth with Disabilities

From May 13 to May 27, 2013, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and the Social Security Administration will host a public online dialogue on federal agency strategies for helping youth with disabilities successfully transition from school to work. The dialogue will seek to identify federal legislative and regulatory barriers and opportunities to improve transition outcomes and to foster the alignment of agencies’ policies, programs, and practices that support successful transitions. The dialogue will be open to the public. Online registration began May 7, 2013. From May 13 to 27, participants will be able to submit ideas, submit comments about ideas, and rate ideas. The dialogue will be facilitated. Once the dialogue has closed, a summary report will be made public.


Paul Marchand Internship in Disability Policy – Applications for the Fall 2013 session due May 15

For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with I/DD and the entire disability community.  Upon his retirement in 2011, The Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations, and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington, established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy advocates.  The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer session which can assist interns pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  See Application information and Internship FAQs for more information.

Health Care – Webinar and Other Resources on Affordable Care Act Implementation

Do you need to learn the basics about the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? On May 23, at 2:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering a webinar “The Health Care Law 101”. The presentation will be on the main provisions in the ACA, and how to access care in your community. Information on the Health Insurance Marketplace, how to help enroll others in health insurance, and how to receive updates on implementation of the law will also be shared.

Additionally, the National Health Law program has a new resource entitled “Ensuring Accessibility for Individuals with Disabilities in the ACA’s Marketplaces”. It provides an excellent overview of what state advocates should know about the ACA and accessibility features.


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)