CAPITOL INSIDER

Major Events Last Week

Budget & Appropriations – President’s Detailed FY 2015 Budget Request
Released

On March 11, the Obama Administration released its detailed proposed funding amounts for
FY 2015.  This follows the Administration’s release of the overall FY 2015 budget request a
week earlier.  Visit The Arc’s website to see a comparison of the proposed amounts for
disability-related programs for 2015 and the final amounts enacted since FY 2012.  As
previously noted, while the President is required by law to release a budget each year, this
particular budget is expected to have little legislative impact. The House and Senate already
agreed to top-line spending levels in last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act. &nb sp; Senator Patty
Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, had already announced that she will
let that agreement stand instead of working toward a new Senate budget resolution this year.

Employment – President Directs Secretary of Labor to Update Overtime Regulations

Last week, President Obama issued a Memorandum, “Modernizing Overtime Regulations,” to
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, directing the Secretary to update and modernize overtime
protections for workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, the President directs
the Secretary to “propose revisions to modernize and streamline the existing overtime
regulations. In doing so, you shall consider how the regulations could be revised to update
existing protections consistent with the intent of the Act; address the changing nature of the
workplace; and simplify the regulations to make them easier for both workers and businesses
to understand and apply.”

Social Security / Employment – Senators Announce Bipartisan Proposal to Extend
Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Last week, a group of 10 U.S. Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV)
announced an agreement to reauthorize emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits
for 5 months.  The bill is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH),
Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Merkley
(D-OR), and Rob Portman (R-OH). The plan will allow for retroactive payments to eligible
beneficiaries going back to December 28, 2013. Unlike some previous proposals, the plan does
not prop ose to partially pay for extending emergency UI by cutting Social Security disability
benefits for people who also receive UI. The Arc and other national disability groups have
strongly supported extending emergency UI but have strongly opposed cutting Social Security
as a partial pay-for. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon after returning from recess
the week of March 24.

Medicare/Medicaid – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Will Not Move
Forward With Controversial Provisions to the Medicare Prescription Drug Program

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated to Members of
Congress that they will not include several controversial provisions in regulations addressing
the Medicare prescription drug program.  The Arc was particularly concerned about a proposal
that would limit access to certain drugs in order to save money.  The Arc is pleased that this
harmful provision will not be included at this time and looks forward to working with CMS to
ensure that Medicare beneficiaries and people who receive both Medicare and Medicaid will
continue to have access to the medications they need.  The Arc is grateful to the people
who responded to our action alert on this important policy.

Announcements

Supreme Court – Hall v. Florida Oral Argument Available Online

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the death penalty case
Hall v. Florida concerning the definition of intellectual disability (“mental retardation” is used
in court cases) which states use in deciding whether an individual with that disability is
protected by the Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, that execution of people with
intellectual disability (ID) is unconstitutional. The oral arguments are now available online.

To view The Arc’s and all other briefs in this case visit The American Bar Association website.

Housing – Housing Finance Reform Bill Would Significantly Fund the National
Housing Trust Fund

Senate Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo
(R-ID) have released the legislative text of a bipartisan housing finance reform proposal, the
Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014. The bill as drafted could provide
over $3.5 billion a year for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), a trust fund created in
2008 to build, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing affordable to extremely low
income families (with income at or below 30 percent of the area median). Broadly, the bill would
wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and create a new Federal Mortgage Insurance
Corporation (FMIC) to regulate the secondary mortgage market, similar to the way the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regulates banks. All FMIC covered securities would be
assessed ten basis points to be used to fund affordable housing activities. T he total fund could
be as high as $5 billion annually. The draft bill calls for 75 percent to go to the NHTF. There is
a nationwide shortage of 7 million rental homes that are affordable and available to extremely
low income households, including households with people with disabilities. The Arc strongly
supports funding the NHTF to help meet the urgent needs of people with disabilities for
affordable, accessible community housing.

Long Term Services and Supports – Forum on Medicaid Managed Care This Month

Tony will be speaking at this event!

The National Council on Disability (NCD) will be holding a forum on Medicaid managed care in
Chicago on March 24. This event is part of a national series that NCD is holding across the
nation. Previous forums have been in Kansas and Florida.  After Chicago, upcoming forums will
be in California and New York.  The goal of the forums is to hear about the impact of Medicaid
managed care on people with disabilities, and to share the Medicaid managed care principles
that NCD developed.  The conversation at the forum will inform NCD in its ongoing
recommendations to the federal government on the topic of Medicaid managed care.

Long Term Services and Supports – New Report Provides Overview of Ongoing
Work to Improve Care for Dual Eligibles

The Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office released its 2013 Report to Congress providing
an overview of activities and accomplishments and ongoing work to improve care for Medicare-
Medicaid enrollees.

MMCO made three legislative recommendations to Congress:

  • Streamline the appeals mechanisms available to beneficiaries through health plans and
    other qualified entities offering Medicare and Medicaid services;
  • Improve access to needed prescription drugs for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees by making
    the LI NET demonstration permanent; and
  • Develop a pilot for the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Eligibility
    for individuals between Ages 21 and 55.

In the report, MMCO identified two areas for further exploration that it believes may have
potential to improve the experience of Medicare-Medicaid enrollees:

  • Coverage standards for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees; and
  • Cost-sharing rules for Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs).

Health Care – Deadline to Sign Up for Health Insurance in The Private Marketplace

The open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance in the private marketplace ends on
March 31, 2014.  To learn more about the Affordable Care Act or to find out how to enroll in
health insurance visit healthcare.gov.

Medicaid – Toolkit Available to Assist States As They Develop Plans to Comply With
The New Home and Community-Based Settings Rule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed an extensive Transition Plan
Toolkit
for state Medicaid agencies and other stakeholders to assist states as they develop
transition plans to comply with the new home and community-based settings rule.  The toolkit
includes exploratory questions to assist states in assessment of residential settings and
technical guidance on settings that isolate people from the broader community.


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