Pass the ABLE Act in the 113th Congress
Disability Programs: Taxes Matter
Major Events Last Week
Appropriations – Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Spending Bill for the Departments of Health & Human Services, Labor, Education, and Related Agencies On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2014 spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). View the Committee Report. A few disability-related programs received notable increases:
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B grants to states – an increase of $125 million (to $11.7 billion)
- Early Intervention – an increase of $21 million (to $463 million)
- Research – an increase of $20 million (to nearly $70 million)
Social Security Administration:
- Program integrity activities, including continuing disability reviews (CDRs) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) redeterminations – a $441 million increase (to $1.2 billion)
- Administrative expenses – an increase of $534 million (to $12 billion)
Despite these and other funding increases, it is important to note that the Senate numbers do not account for the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) in FY 2014 since the Senate Budget Resolution assumed elimination of sequestration. It is likely that one or more continuing resolutions (CR) are likely at this point.
Education – Department of Education Releases Information on How States Have Performed In Implementing IDEA
The Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released its annual determination of how states have performed in implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). States are required to submit data and measurable improvement goals to OSERS about graduation rates, meeting evaluation timelines, participation and performance on statewide assessments, and many other areas. States must report on their progress in meeting those goals. OSERS then evaluates the performance of each state and issues determination letters. States may receive one of four determinations: meets, needs assistance, needs intervention, or needs substantial intervention. IDEA requires OSERS to direct states to obtain technical assistance or develop corrective action plans. In worst cases, IDEA authorizes OSERS to withhold a state’s IDEA funding. To learn how your state fared, go to the Department of Education website.
Immigration – House Taking Piecemeal Approach to Immigration Reform
After Senate passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, S. 744, the House is taking a more piecemeal approach to immigration reform. The Judiciary Committee has marked up four bills dealing with piecemeal aspects of the country’s immigration system. One (H.R. 1773) would create a new guest worker program for agricultural workers. Another (H.R. 2278) grants state and local officials more authority to enforce federal immigration laws. Also approved by the panel is a bill (H.R. 1772) to mandate an electronic workplace verification system known as E-Verify and another bill (H.R. 2131) to give more visas to foreign high-tech graduates of American universities.
The Homeland Security Committee, meanwhile, has marked up a border security bill (H.R. 1417) that would require the Homeland Security Department to put in place a plan to gain “operational control” of the borders. Thus far, none of the House bills has addressed citizenship, although there is talk of a bill that would create a path to citizenship for children. The Senate bill creates a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented people who are in the country and strengthens border security.
Medicaid / Long Term Services and Supports – Oregon’s K Plan is the Second Community First Choice Option Plan to Win Support from CMS
Oregon’s K Plan is the second Community First Choice Option plan to win approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Under the K Plan, Oregon will provide home and community-based services and supports under its state plan in exchange for a 6% increase in its federal Medicaid match for those services. Services not provided under the K Plan that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) might need will continue to be available through waivers, including supported employment/pre-vocational services, family training, and waiver case management.
Civil Rights – Commission on Election Administration Meets with Disability Advocates; Seeks Public Input
The Commission on Election Administration, created by Executive Order in March 2013 to identify best practices and recommend improvements in the voting experience, met with a panel of disability advocates. The National Council on Disability convened the group to provide input to Commissioners about the experiences of people with disabilities in the voting process. Advocates pointed to numerous improvements that have been made since the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002 but also stressed that barriers remain. Ongoing problems that the advocates highlighted included guardianship status, long waiting lines, poorly trained poll workers, inaccessibility, and the presumption that individuals with intellectual disabilities are not competent to vote. The Commissioners are interested in learning about any jurisdictions in which the voting experience for people with I/DD works well. The public can provide input to the Commission through its website: www.supportthevoter.gov
Major Events This Week
Health Care – House to Vote on Two Bills to Delay Provisions of the Affordable Care Act
The House is expected to vote on two bills to delay two important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for one year – the requirement that large employers provide health insurance or face financial penalties and the requirement that most individuals purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The Obama Administration has already delayed for one year the reporting requirements and the collection of penalties if employers do not provide health insurance. The administration stated that more time was needed to finalize reporting regulations and finish developing the communication structures to notify and collect the large employer penalties. The individual requirement to purchase health insurance is important to ensure that enough healthy people purchase insurance to offset the cost of covering people with health conditions. There is a concern that without the requirement people will wait to purchase insurance until they become sick and need health insurance coverage. As with other votes on the ACA, both bills are likely to pass in the House but are not expected to be considered by the Senate.
Long Term Services and Supports – Commission on Long-Term Care to Hold Second Public Meeting
The Commission on Long-Term Care will hold its second public meeting on July 17, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 1:30 p.m. Included on the agenda are “subpopulations” that need long-term services and supports. One of the White House-appointed Commissioners has withdrawn since his appointment to Associate Director of Health Policy at Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Education – Michael Keith Yudin Nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
On July 10, Michael Keith Yudin, was nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. Yudin is currently Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Previously, he was a staff member in the former Disability Policy Collaboration of The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy, and spent nine years in the United States Senate, serving as legislative director for Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, senior counsel to Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, and HELP Committee counsel to Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont.
Yudin’s nomination, along with five others, was sent to the Senate for consideration.
Long Term Services and Supports – CMS Announces Availability of $12 Million for Ombudsman Programs for Demonstrations to Integrate and Coordinate Healthcare for Dual Eligibles
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced availability of $12 million for Ombudsman programs for demonstrations to integrate and coordinate healthcare for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. States that have negotiated memoranda of understanding with CMS for the demonstrations are eligible to apply for funds. Advocates who have been pushing for dedicated, funded, independent ombudsman programs in the dual demonstration states welcome the announcement.
Medicaid – Results of Survey Sponsored by The California Healthcare Foundation on Counties Who Transitioned to Managed Care Released
The California Healthcare Foundation sponsored a survey of beneficiaries in 16 California counties who transitioned to mandatory Medi-Cal managed care between June 2011 and May 2012. In addition to interviews, researchers conducted two focus groups with people with developmental disabilities. Results highlighted several lessons that can inform other states as more services and populations are included in managed care. Results indicated that some beneficiaries experienced problems with the transition: 37% found it very or somewhat difficult to find information they needed; 34% of people who called their plan’s member services said they sometimes or never got the help they needed; 32% reported that their benefits were worse since their transition to Medi-Cal managed care in the areas of prescription medication, specialty care, medical equipment and supplies, and primary care. An updated and more detailed report is scheduled for the end of this summer.