Help Protect Disability Programs – Call to End Tax Cuts for the Top 2 Percent
Major Events Last Week
Appropriations – House subcommittee passes Labor-HHS-Ed bill
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) passed its FY 2013 spending bill
that funds the majority of disability-related programs. The bill passed along a near party line vote of 8 to 6 on July 18. The Senate Appropriations committee passed its version of the bill last month
. Again this year, the House subcommittee focused on reducing funding for implementation of the health care reform law. Specifically, the bill would rescind $1.6 billion for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and $15 million for the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is charged with recommending steps to lower Medicare spending growth. Other targets included family planning services, the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program, and National Public Radio. As the bill provided for mostly top level numbers for federal agencies, obtaining funding amounts for most individual disability-related programs will not be available until the committee report is released. However, in its press release the subcommittee noted:
· Special Education grants to states are funded at $12.1 billion, a 4.3% increase over FY 2012.
· The bill includes $10.7 billion to administer Social Security Administration activities, which is $287 million below fiscal year 2012.
Civil Rights – Senate hearing to vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was rescheduled for July 26
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was cancelled and tentatively rescheduled for July 26th. A group that supports home schooling has been successful in raising concerns about the CRPD. However, their concerns appear to be based on a misreading of the treaty. During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on July 12, Senators were assured that the treaty would not impact parental rights. The Arc continues to work with numerous other disability advocacy groups to garner support for ratifying the treaty.
Employment – Legislation Introduced to Block State TANF Waivers
Legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate last week to block the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from granting waivers to states that could exempt them from work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. On July 12th
HHS published an Information Memorandum
(IM) indicating that it would consider such waivers. The IM provides examples of waivers that states may want to consider, including “projects that demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities, along with an alternative approach to measuring participation and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.” The Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2012 (H.R. 6140
, introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), and S. 3397
, introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)) would bar HHS from approving any waivers pursuant to the IM. The Arc opposes this legislation and has long supported proposals to give states this flexibility to better serve people with disabilities in their TANF programs.
Medicaid/Long term services and supports – Senate hearing on proposals for Dual eligibles
The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing
about proposals being considered by the Medicare and Medicaid Coordination Office (MMCO) within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) designed to integrate and coordinate care for individuals who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (Duals). Twenty-six states have submitted financial alignment proposals to CMS that could move as many as 2 million Duals into demonstration programs. Senators asked about some states’ requests to enroll people into managed care plans without asking them if they wanted to join. MMCO Director, Melanie Bella, said that states must allow people to leave the managed care plans and enroll in another plan or in regular Medicare. Senators also raised concerns about whether managed care plans had the necessary expertise to provide services for Duals.
Major Events Ahead
Tax – Senate to take up Middle Class Tax Cut Act
The Senate is expected to take up S. 3412
, a temporary extension of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 under the Presidency of George W. Bush. The bill will extend for 1 year the tax cuts for households earning under $250,000 per year. The Arc supports this bill to help ensure that revenue is raised fairly to pay for critical disability services and supports. Allowing the tax cuts to expire for households making over $250,000 a year (the top 2% of earners) would generate about $1 trillion. This funding is needed to help protect important disability programs (like Medicaid, Social Security, housing, education, and employment) from deep cuts and to reduce the deficit.
Social Security – Hearing on Use of Technology and SSI Rescheduled; The Arc’s Marty Ford to Testify
The House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee has rescheduled its hearing on the use of technology to improve the administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program’s financial eligibility requirements for Wednesday, July 25th
at 2:00 PM EDT. The Arc’s Marty Ford will testify on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Social Security Task Force. Visit the Committee web site
for more information and for live video the day of the hearing.
Social Security – Hearing to Examine Overlap of SSDI and Unemployment Benefits
On Thursday, July 26th
the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has scheduled a hearing on “Double Dipping: Assessing Overlap Between Disability and Unemployment Benefits.” According to the announcement, the hearing will examine a new, not-yet-released report by the Government Accountability Office titled “Income Security: Overlapping Disability and Unemployment Benefits Should Be Evaluated for Potential Savings.” Visit the Committee web site
for more information.
Schedule for Capitol Insider
The United States Senate and the House of Representatives will be in recess from August 6 – September 10 for district work periods and the national political party conventions. During that time, The Arc will send out the Capitol Insider as needed. With both chambers out of session, there may be little to report on a weekly basis.
Health Care – Updated Schedule for Affordable Care Act implementation forums
Last week, we announced that the Department of Health and Human Services would be holding Affordable Care Act implementation forums across the country. The dates for some of these forums have been changed, please check the updated schedule
Civil Rights – Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
July 26, 2012 will mark the 22th
Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights law was created to eliminate discrimination against people based on their disabilities.
Employment – Federal Agencies Sign Agreement to Promote Employment First
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) have announced
a new memorandum of agreement (MOA). Under the MOA, the agencies will collaborate to expand and promote integrated employment as the first employment option for individuals with significant disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Education – No Child Left Behind waivers granted to six more states
The Department of Education granted flexibility from some of the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act to six more states (Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oregon, and South Carolina) and the District of Columbia. Secretary Duncan is considering allowing individual school districts in states that choose not to apply for waivers to submit applications. Details about the 33 waivers that have been approved are available on the Department’s website