Disability Programs: Taxes Matter
Major Events Last Week
Immigration – Key Committee Approves Immigration Bill
With a bipartisan vote of 13 – 5, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee sent the Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744, to the full Senate. Majority Leader Reid anticipates bringing the bill to the Senate floor in June. S. 744 provides a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented people currently in the country. The bill also provides a new “W” visa for low-skilled workers. The bill as currently written would do away with the sibling category in family visas. The Arc is concerned about the negative impact that provision could have on individuals living in other countries whose family caregivers become incapacitated or die, leaving the individual with I/DD without caregivers.
Housing – Priced Out in 2012 Documents Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities
Last week, the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the CCD Housing Task Force released a new study, Priced Out in 2012, which documents the housing crisis for people with disabilities. The study compares Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) average fair market rents for one bedroom and efficiency apartments with the average Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit for a person with a disability living in the community. Priced Out in 2012 finds that the national average rent for a modestly priced one bedroom apartment is greater than the entire SSI payment of a person with a disability. The study provides data for all states and 2,572 housing market areas across the nation.
In a statement, The Arc’s CEO Peter V. Berns noted that Priced Out highlights the need for programs like the new HUD Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Demonstration, stating, “Having a safe place to call home is a basic human right and we have a responsibility to ensure individuals with disabilities are given the chance find a home in the community they choose. The Arc calls on Congress to adequately fund the Section 811 PRA Demonstration to help address the housing crisis for people with disabilities.”
Medicaid/LTSS – Virginia Enters Agreement on Dually Eligible Individuals
Virginia is the 6th state to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to coordinate health care and long term services and supports for individuals who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. 78,000 Virginians will be eligible to participate in the program slated to begin January 1, 2014. The program will operate in five regions of the Commonwealth and will be phased in over eight months. Individuals who reside in ICFs/IDD or who receive I/DD waiver services will not participate in the program. However, some individuals with I/DD who participate in the Elderly or Disabled with Consumer Direction waiver will be included. All six of the MOUs can be found on the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office website.
Long Term Services and Supports – CMS Releases Guidance on Managed Care
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance concerning managed long-term services and supports, entitled Long Term Services and Supports Delivered through Medicaid Managed Care Programs, May 21, 2013. The document is available on the CMS website.
Medicaid – New Resources Released by The National Council on Disabilities
The National Council on Disabilities released two new publications concerning the Medicaid program – A Medicaid Block Grant Program: Implications for People with Disabilities, and The Case for Medicaid Self-Direction: A White Paper on Research, Practice, and Policy Opportunities. The publications can be accessed on NCD’s website: www.ncd.gov/publications/2013.
Social Security – House Holds Hearing on Reform Proposals
Last week, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held the third hearing in a series on “the President’s and Other Bipartisan Entitlement Reform Proposals.” Witnesses testified about proposals to adjust Social Security benefits and how it impacts the program’s finances, beneficiaries, workers, and the economy. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony and archived video of the hearing.
Health Care – Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid Expansion
Are you looking for more information about what states have decided to do about expanding Medicaid or defaulting to the federal government to run their health insurance marketplaces? The Kaiser Family Foundation has a very helpful interactive tool to give you up to date information about what states are doing with this issue. The health insurance marketplaces will begin enrolling individuals who need health insurance and assisting small businesses who want to purchase insurance for their employees in October, 2013 though coverage will not begin until January 1, 2014. Each state must also make a decision about whether to expand Medicaid to 133% of poverty ($15,282 for an individual in 2013). The federal government will pay 100% of the costs for the expansion for newly eligible people for the first 3 years.
SSI / Employment – Department of Education Announces State Grant Program to Enhance Outcomes for Youth Receiving SSI
The Department of Education has published a notice inviting applications from states for a new competitive grant program, Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE). PROMISE seeks to improve the education and career outcomes of low income children with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The program is designed to serve children with disabilities, ages 14-16, who are receiving SSI and their families.
PROMISE is open to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and states may apply together as a consortium. The Department intends to fund three to six projects at $4.5 million to $10 million a year for 5 years. PROMISE encourages formal partnerships with agencies and entities in the state that play a role in the development and implementation of policies and practices that affect child SSI recipients.