We have enough updates this week that I have split things into at least two weeks. First the federal level updates:
Trump Signs Family Caregivers Act
A new law will require the federal government to develop a national strategy to address the needs of family caregivers, including those supporting people with developmental disabilities. Read More >
TRUMP’S State of the Union Address Tonight!
President Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address tomorrow. The speech is expected to strike a unifying tone and offer a legislative agenda with bipartisan appeal, including a $1 trillion infrastructure package and immigration reform. Full details of an infrastructure plan aren’t expected for two to four weeks. It is not clear if he will talk about healthcare.
Alex Azar Sworn In at Health and Human Services (HHS)
The new HHS secretary will be sworn in this week. Azar’s Chief of Staff Peter Urbanowicz and his deputy chief of staff, Brian Harrison, are two trusted hands from the Bush administration. He was formerly the United States Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017, Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.
How Might Medicaid Adults with Disabilities Be Affected By Work Requirements in Section 1115 Waiver Programs?
Medicaid provides health insurance for over 80 million Americans, including pregnant women, low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a monthly cash payment to help low-income people with disabilities pay for housing, food, and other basic needs. SSI does not include health insurance, but people who receive SSI generally automatically qualify for Medicaid. SSI enrollees are a subset of all Medicaid enrollees with disabilities. People who receive SSI cash assistance must meet stringent income, asset, and medical eligibility criteria. Many people with disabilities do not receive cash assistance from SSI but still qualify for health insurance from Medicaid through other eligibility pathways.
We Must Continue the Fight to Protect Medicaid
The House and Senate Republicans and Democrats are meeting at the end of the month to determine their respective caucus’ legislative priorities for 2018. The disability community must remind Congress that we support the Medicaid program and that they should not take steps to cut or cap the program.
Key House and Senate leaders have indicated that they would like to cut spending on federal program such as Medicaid in response to the 1.5 trillion dollar loss of revenue due to the tax cuts. Some leaders have been careful to say that Medicare and Social Security are off the table for possible cuts but Medicaid, food assistance, Supplemental Security Income and others remain targets. This is a continuation of the fight in 2017 except they are using different messaging. Medicaid is at risk whether they are calling it “welfare reform” or “opportunities” or “jobs for people”, the end result is reducing enrollment in Medicaid and spending less on the program.
The only feasible way for Congress to enact major cuts or caps to Medicaid this year is through special budget rules (known as reconciliation) that allow the Senate to pass budget-related legislation with a simple majority. But reconciliation cannot proceed without first passing a budget resolution that includes instructions that would allow the Senate to use special budget rules. We must remind Congress that we want to protect Medicaid and other programs. Insist that Congress refuse to include reconciliation instructions in any budget legislation and instead seek bipartisan efforts to strengthen Medicaid and other social programs people with disabilities rely on.
Call your Representative and Senators today—202-224-3121. EVERY call matters. If we can prevent Congress from passing a budget, then Congress will not be able to cut or cap Medicaid. Act now as Congress will be deciding what direction to take at the end of the month.
What to Say:
- I am your constituent.
- I am a person with a disability (or a family member, or professional in the field).
- Medicaid provides critical services to people with disabilities.
- Protect Medicaid from cuts and caps.
- Do not pass a budget that allows Medicaid cuts.
The Arc of Illinois
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