The Arc of Illinois Weekly Update

It has been a wild week in Congress as the bill to pull back Obama era education regulation including for students with disabilities moves out of the Senate and to the President to sign and the House Republican healthcare bill moves out of two committees with only minor changes.  In Springfield, more fall out from the breakdown last week of grand bargain talks.  TODAY is your last day to submit comments on the DD Adult Services Waiver Renewal.  Highlights in this update include:

  • State Budget
  • Federal Legislation
  • Resources & Upcoming Events


State Policy and Advocacy

There has been a lot of back and forth and finger pointing this week between the Governor and the Democratic Legislature about who is at fault for the failure to pass a grand bargain in the Senate last week.  Senate committees held hearings this week and brought in various department heads to ask them for specific cuts that they would make in their departments to balance the budget.  Most of them declined to list specific cuts including DHS.  It has been suggested that the House might develop another short term budget, but there has not been movement yet on this.

Comptroller Mendoza won a victory Tuesday when a court affirmed that she has the authority to choose which funds to pay the state’s bills.  The Governor has appealed this ruling.  At the same time, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court to try to stop state workers from being paid while there is no state budget.


Federal Policy and Advocacy

The American Health Care Act, the bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and would remove the entitlement of Medicaid, moved out of two committees in the House this week at unusually quick speeds.  The Energy and Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committees both debated and voted to move the AHCA out of their respective committees with little to not changes to the bill.  It now moves to the House Budget Committee next week and plans to vote in the full House in several weeks.  For more, click here.  Significant opposition is coming from the Right and the Left regarding this bill, so it is by no means for sure that it will get out of the House and a number of Republican Senators have already raised issues with the bill as written.  The Republicans can not lose more than three Senators or they will not be able to pass it through the reconciliation budget process (that does not require a filibuster proof majority).

Here are two Arc US fact sheets on Medicaid and on the Affordable Care Act.

ADVOCACY CONTINUES – So if you have not yet called your legislators, please do so in the House and the Senate to oppose this bill and the attempts to cap federal Medicaid spending.  Tell them “Medicaid ensure people with disabilities can get out of bed every day, get access to critical healthcare, be a part of the broader community and contribute.  Do not cut our services!”

Also this week the Senate voted 50-49 to pass Senate Joint Resolution 25, which removes the Obama administration rules around implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  These rules helped to reinforce the rights of students with disabilities.  States have been actively creating and submitting implementation plans to the federal government around implementation of ESSA.  This bill now goes to the President to sign.  When signed, states will now have to rely on the specific language of the ESSA legislation only to interpret how they should implement the bill.  See here for more.


Important Dates