How Will Tax Reform Affect Funding for Disability Programs?
Pass the ABLE Act in the 113th Congress
Major Events Last Week
Long Term Services and Supports – Long-Term Care Commission
The bipartisan Commission on Long-Term Care met last week in Washington, DC and held a public hearing on Populations in Need of Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) and Service Delivery Issues. Dr. David Braddock, Executive Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and Senior Associate Vice President of the University of Colorado System was invited to testify. Dr. Braddock is well known in the intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community for his work on the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities, a report, now in its 35th year, of state spending for services for people with I/DD.
In his testimony, Dr. Braddock spoke of the need for more investment in supported employment and family caregivers. He noted that families are at the nexus of any future policy decisions that impact the I/DD population. Dr. Braddock went on to note that this year was the first in which there was a decrease in public spending on services and supports for individuals with I/DD. Despite this, Dr. Braddock highlighted the progress that many states have made in closing their state institutions; there are now 14 states without public institutions in the United States. Dr. Braddock also pointed out the difference in cost for an individual with I/DD living in an institution, which averages about $220,000 per year, compared with $26,000 per person per year in a supported living setting. The demand for residential services will continue to grow according to Dr. Braddock.
Health Care/Autism – DoD revises new policy limiting Applied Behavioral Analysis
On July 18, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that its new restrictions on Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for the 23,000 military kids with autism will only apply to non-active duty members covered under the Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) program or TRICARE Basic. On July 21, DoD issued further guidance stating that the new restrictions would also apply to active duty family members receiving ABA after July, 25, 2013. The ABA coverage restrictions will now apply to a pilot program for the families of non-active and retired personnel and to active duty family members receiving ABA after July, 25, 2013. The pilot program, created in section 705 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, was intended to study the feasibility of coverage for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by comparing coverage under the TRICARE and its ECHO Program. (TRICARE is the military’s health care program for active duty, activated guard and reserves, retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors. It does not cover ABA services. TRICARE’s separate ECHO program provides coverage for military family members with disabilities. While ECHO covers ABA services for ASD, the program is limited to active duty military and has an annual coverage cap.)
The proposed changes, scheduled to take effect July 25, require parents to arrange standardized testing every six months for their children in order to continue receiving care, and demonstrate “measurable progress.” The Arc will advocate for the removal of the coverage restrictions for all active duty personnel and for the pilot program that was created to study the feasibility of providing a comprehensive ABA benefit to children of military personnel in both the Tricare and ECHO programs. For more information on the proposed policy changes, see the letter from Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA).
Education – The U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Reauthorize No Child Left Behind
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, by a partisan vote of 221-207, with 12 Republicans and every Democrat voting against it. The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). It includes an amendment sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) which would allow parents of eligible students to take Title I money to any school, including charters. Currently, Title I funds go to schools with high numbers of disadvantaged students. The bill dramatically reduces the federal government’s ability to set standards for students and teachers and gives that power to the states. It removes the focus on disadvantaged students and those with special needs currently in ESEA. The bill block grants certain funds designed for English language learners, migrants, and others and gives control of these funds to the states. In order to obtain support from some conservative members, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) had to give up on requiring schools to use student outcomes to measure teacher success. The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions already passed a very different ESEA reauthorization bill, S.1094, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The House voted down an amendment sponsored by Representative George Miller (D-CA) which would have replaced H.R. 5 with the Senate’s version. Even if the full Senate were to pass Senator Harkin’s ESEA reauthorization bill, it is unlikely that the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill could be reconciled.
Social Security – Bill Introduced to End SSDI 5-Month Wait for Beneficiaries with Terminal Illnesses
Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act of 2013 (S. 1311). The bill would expedite the payment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to individuals with terminal illnesses (who are not expected to live more than 6 months) by eliminating the 5-month wait period for benefits. Instead, qualified individuals would see their benefits phased in over 2 months, would receive full scheduled benefits in months 3 to 12, would receive benefits in months 12 to 24 that are reduced by a pro rata share of the total amount of benefits paid during what would otherwise be the five month waiting period, and would receive benefits in year 3 and beyond that are 95% of the regular benefit. The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.
Employment – AGE-IN Act Introduced to Address Transition Needs of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has introduced the Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence and Navigation (AGE-IN) Act of 2013 (S. 1259). The bill seeks to address the school-to-adult life transition needs of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, by funding grants to provide research, training, and transition navigator services. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Housing – HUD Issued Proposed Regulation on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a long-anticipated proposed regulation under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH). The proposed rule does not create any new obligations, but instead seeks to provide clearer guidance and tools to help entities understand and carry out their AFFH obligations. AFFH refers to the Fair Housing Act’s obligation for state and local governments to improve and achieve more meaningful outcomes from fair housing policies, so that every American has the right to fair housing, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. As stated in HUD’s press release, “Under the proposed new rule, HUD will provide program participants with: A more clearly articulated definition of what it means to affirmatively further fair housing; An assessment template that replaces the current, loosely defined Analysis of Impediments; Nationally uniform data and a geospatial tool; and Clear guidance and technical assistance.” In addition to the proposed rule, HUD has made available made available background materials and a prototype geospatial tool.
Schedule for Capitol Insider
Capitol Insider will not be sent out from July 29 – September 9. Next week, The Arc’s staff will be preparing for this year’s National Convention in Bellevue, Washington. Also, both the House and the Senate will be on August Recess from August 5- September 9. While both chambers are out of session there may be little to report, please check the Capitol Insider Blog for policy updates.
Civil Rights/Americans with Disabilities Act –Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Report Shows Many States Failing to Live up to Integration Mandate of the ADA
Last Week, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a new report revealing that 14 years later, many states are failing to live up to the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. in 1999 that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, thus directing states to enable community-based long-term care services for these Americans.
The report, titled “Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” is the result of requests for information sent by Chairman Harkin to all 50 states on the progress made to transition individuals out of institutions. The full report, with executive summary, can be found here. A copy of responses from states can be found here.
Health Care – Webinar on Preparing People with Disabilities for the Health Insurance Marketplaces scheduled for August 7
Please join the Friends of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Disabilities (NCBDDD) for an important webinar, “Preparing People with Disabilities for the Health Insurance Marketplaces: What do you know? What do you need to know?” The one hour webinar will take place on August 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The learning objectives are to enable attendees to: 1) explain recent changes in the ACA that affect people with disabilities; 2) describe how the health insurance marketplaces will work; and 3) incorporate health advocacy tips for organizations that serve people with disabilities in the health marketplaces (exchanges) process and other health/ACA-related programs. You are encouraged to submit questions in advance to email@example.com or tweet your question using the hash tag #FriendsNCBDDD. You can preview all of the questions and watch the archived webinar after the event at http://www.friendsofncbddd.org. Please register and feel to add your organization’s logo to this flyer to share with your networks.