Family Support – Webinar on TimeBanking for Respite Services

The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center is sponsoring a webinar, TimeBanking for Respite: An Innovative and Socially Just Approach to Supporting Family Caregivers on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm, EDT. This webinar will describe the history and philosophy of TimeBanking and describe how TimeBanks can be applied to the offering of respite care to family caregivers. Timebanking is based on the idea is that those receiving help can “pay” for the services they receive from others, not with money but time credits which they have earned by helping others. Edgar Cahn, CEO of TimeBanks USA, will provide an overview of the content, philosophy and functions of TimeBanks. Chris Gray, TimeBanks Special Projects Coordinator, will provide more details on how these principles can be applied to delivery of respite services. Register here.

Prevention/Health – Webinar Launching Drive to Eliminate Lead Poisoning

The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition is holding a webinar to launch Find It, Fix It, Fund It: a Lead Elimination Action Drive on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 1:00 pm, EDT. The drive has four components: a National Roundtable to develop new policies and promote legislation and administrative advocacy; a Policy Workgroup focused on federal funding; a Grassroots Workgroup; and a Media Outreach Workgroup. Participants will have the opportunity to provide input and sign up for the drive’s components. Registerhere.

Rights/Education – Webinar on Supported Decision Making in Education

The National Resource Center on Supported Decision Making is sponsoring a webinar series, From Theory to Practice. On Wednesday, May 25 at 1:00 pm, EDT, the topic will be Supported Decision-Making in Education. Recent studies have found that educational professionals are the most common source of referrals for guardianship. This webinar will feature attorneys and advocates who have worked to include Supported Decision-Making and self-determination into school curriculums. They will tell stories of triumph and struggle that are applicable to professionals across the country. The presenters are Morgan K. Whitlatch, Legal Director at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and Project Director of the National Resource Center of Supported Decision-Making and Laura Smith Butler, Research Policy Administrator of National Core Indicators at the Human Development Institute, University of Kentucky. Register here.

Department of Labor (DOL) Releases New Overtime Final Rule – Including Non-Enforcement for Some Medicaid Providers

The DOL released the much anticipated final Overtime rule on May 18, 2016, with an effective date of December 1, 2016. Along with the rule, DOL announced a non-enforcement policy for providers of Medicaid-funded services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in residential homes and facilities with 15 or fewer beds. The full policy will be published in the Federal Register on May 23, 2016.

The non-enforcement policy will be in effect from December 1, 2016 (when the final rule goes into effect,) until March, 2019. This non-enforcement timeframe is intended to align with the implementation timeline of the Home and Community Based Settings final rule. This will allow Medicaid Home and Community Based Services providers who qualify to prepare for the implementation.

The Arc staff is in the midst of analyzing the rule and the non-enforcement policy more closely. The Arc staff anticipates, based on its review and the thoughtful questions received from chapters, seeking some further clarification from DOL in the very near future.

DOL has also released several documents for non-profits includingguidance and a shorter fact sheet. Additional resources can be found on DOL’swebsite. DOL will also be hosting several webinars to provide additional information: register here.

Housing – Bill Introduced to Expand Low Income Housing Tax Credit

Last week, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act” (S. 2962). The bill would expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program by 50 percent, allowing the program to create or preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable homes over 10 years, or 400,000 more units than under the current program. The LIHTC program provides much-needed funding for construction and preservation of affordable housing across the United States.

Housing – Senate Tables Harmful Fair Housing Appropriations Amendment

Last week, the Senate voted 60 to 37 to table a harmful Fair Housing amendment to the FY 2017 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development/Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.S.Amdt.3897 introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and 5 cosponsors, would have blocked the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from implementing or enforcing its much-needed “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) rule. Each year, people with disabilities initiate over half of all reported complaints of housing discrimination. HUD’s AFFH rule is designed to expand opportunity and fairness in housing for all, including curbing housing discrimination and expanding access to affordable, accessible housing in the community for people with disabilities. The Arc strongly opposed S.Amdt.3897 and applauds the Senate for rejecting this attack on Fair Housing.

Prevention/Health – House and Senate Pass Zika Funding Bills

On May 18, the House passed a freestanding $622 million funding bill, the Zika Response Appropriations Act (H.R. 5243), to address the Zika virus. The costs for this supplemental spending bill are fully offset by using $352 million in “unobligated” money for the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and $270 million in “unused administrative funding” from the Department of Health and Human Services. Funds would be allocated for fiscal year 2016, which means they could be used during the next five months. The Senate followed suit on May 19 by passing a two-bill spending measure (H.R. 2577) that includes a $1.1 billion agreement on responding to the Zika virus for four months. Passage of bills with such significant differences in the amount of funding promises a complicated conference process between the House and Senate. Public health and disability advocates are seeking amounts closer to the President’s request of $1.9 billion which may have to play out over time with additional spending bills.

Miscellaneous – Department of Education Releases Additional Information on Federal Student Loan Discharge

Last month, the Department of Education announced a new process to identify and notify federal student loan borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge. The Department has worked with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify a subset of federal student loan borrowers who receive Social Security disability benefits and meet the eligibility criteria for a TPD loan discharge. Approximately 387,000 current borrowers have been identified. Beginning in April, the Department began sending out customized letters to these 387,000 borrowers explaining the steps they can take to apply for a TPD loan discharge. Last week, the Department released additional Questions & Answers including information related to the impact of a TPD loan discharge on Supplemental Security Income and Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid eligibility, and eligibility for premium tax credits and cost assistance under the Affordable Care Act. Borrowers considering a TPD loan discharge, as well as information and referral specialists, may wish to consult this new background information.

Employment/Rights – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Releases Publication on Leave as an Accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

On Monday, May 9, the EEOC released a publication detailing employer obligations with respect to leave under the ADA. Topics addressed include equal access to leave, leave as a reasonable accommodation, maximum leave policies, return to work and reasonable accommodation, and undue hardship. This publication provides places existing guidance in one centralized location.