Health Care:  National Council on Disability Releases Affordable Care Act (ACA) Report

On February 2, the National Council on Disability (NCD) released, “Monitoring and Enforcing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for People with Disabilities”. This is the final report in a three-part series on ACA and describes key legal protections in the ACA. NCD is an independent federal agency that makes policy recommendations to Congress and the Administration.

Employment:  Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Meets

The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (WIOA advisory committee)  held its quarterly meeting via webinar on January 27-28, 2016. The agenda for the meeting included reports from all of the standing committees as well as further discussion of the use and oversight of the Section 14(c) certificates and reforms to the Ability One program. The meeting also included public testimony from stakeholders. The final report of this committee will be due to Congress in September of 2016.

Employment:  Department of Labor and Ohio reach Landmark Settlement Ordering Fair Pay in Sheltered Workshops

In a precedent-setting opinion issued by an administrative law judge from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), three workers have been awarded minimum wage going forward and back pay from Seneca Re-Ad, a sheltered workshop run by the Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Joe Magers, Pam Steward, and Mark Felton had been paid an average of $2.50 an hour for more than three years and are among the first workers with disabilities ever to invoke the petition process to seek a review of their wages by the US DOL. The administrative law judge found that Seneca Re-Ad has not proven that the petitioners’ disabilities keep them from accomplishing the work. Further, the decision holds that their wages have not been calculated correctly. Therefore, Seneca must pay at least the minimum wage.

Health Care:  House Fails to Override Veto of ACA Changes

On February 2, The House voted 241-186 to override the veto of H.R. 3762, “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” which repeals substantial parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. Among the provisions that would have been repealed are the penalties used to enforce the mandates that most individuals have health coverage and that large employers offer it to their workers. In 2018, it would have repealed the law’s Medicaid expansion and its subsidies to help low and middle-income individuals buy health coverage through the new insurance exchanges. A number of the taxes used to help offset the cost of the health law would also have been repealed.

Budget & Appropriations:  President’s Budget to be Released on February 9th

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget and appropriations process is expected to officially begin tomorrow when the President submits his budget request to Congress. The budget will include funding requests for all federal executive departments and independent agencies, including those that fund the majority of disability-related programs – the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. See current FY 2016 program funding levels here.

Long Term Services and Supports – New Toolkit Available NOW for the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rules

The new HCBS Settings Rules require all settings funded by Medicaid HCBS programs to, among other things, provide opportunities for participants to be integrated in and engage in community life, have access to the community, control their personal resources, and seek employment and work in competitive settings. This new toolkit provides advocates with detailed information about the HCBS Settings Rules and provides action steps for advocates to impact implementation of the new rules in their states. The toolkit contains three documents: (1) The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Settings Rules: What You Should Know; (2) Home and Community-Based Services Regulations Q&A: Settings Presumed to be Institutional & the Heightened Scrutiny Process, and (3) The Home and Community-Based Settings Rules: How to Advocate for Truly Integrated Community Settings (full and abridged).

Tax Policy – ABLE National Resource Center to Host Webinar

In 2015, the majority of states enacted their own versions of the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. With this stage complete, many states are closer to actually implementing the new ABLE accounts program in their states, with some expecting to have accounts available to open in 2016. To provide updated information, the ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) invites you to join a webinar on Friday, February 5, at 2:00 pm EST. Featuring a panel of ABLE experts, this webinar will explore the current status of ABLE, various components of the implementation process, and what can be expected in the coming months. Speakers will include:

  • Chris Rodriguez, Senior Public Policy Advisor, National Disability Institute
  • Heather Sachs, Vice President of Advocacy & Public Policy, National Down Syndrome Society
  • Ken Brown, Social Security Administration
  • Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc
  • Stuart Spielman, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel, Autism Speaks
  • William Thompson, Deputy Executive Director, Florida Prepaid College Board

Should you wish to attend this online event, please register here.

Health Care – CMS to Issue Final Rules on Certain Provisions of the Affordable Care Act

On February 2, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will publish final rules regarding Section 6407 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and Section 504 of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). These provisions require a “face-to-face” encounter for an initial order of Medicaid home health services and allow other professionals, working under the supervision of a physician, to perform the “face-to-face” visit for the purpose of obtaining medical supplies, equipment, and appliances.The rule makes a number of other clarifying changes and becomes effective on July 1, 2016. If you would like to review the rule, you may do so here.

The Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence Calls for Applicants

In conjunction with the Leadership Institute for Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence, the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence is now seeking applicants for its second Leadership Academy.  Scheduled for June 13-16, 2016 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this four day, in-person learning opportunity empowers leaders within the disability community to effectively harness the diversity among people with disabilities. The application deadline is February 7, 2016.  To learn more about this event and apply, please do so here.