Miscellaneous – The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy Receives Award

Marty Ford, The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, received the “Policy Award” from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) in honor of her advocacy for people with I/DD throughout her career. The award will be given at AAIDD’s convention in June. Learn more about AAIDD’s award recipients here.

Family Support/Employment – Archived Webinar on Paid Family and Medical Leave from the Disability Angle Now Available

The webinar hosted by The Arc in October on Paid Family and Medical Leave from the Disability Angle is now available. Presenters were Kali Grant, the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality (GCPI); T.J. Sutcliffe, The Arc; Erika Hagensen, North Carolina; and Lauren Agoratus, New Jersey. The archived recording can be found here. See the research by The Arc and GCPI highlighting how access to paid leave can promote economic security and stability for people with disabilities and their families here.

Rights – NPR Series on Abuse of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Begins Today

At a moment of reckoning in the United States about sexual harassment and sexual assault, a yearlong National Public Radio (NPR) investigation finds that there’s little recognition of a group of Americans that is one of the most at risk: adults with intellectual disabilities. The series starts on Monday, January 8th and runs through Thursday, January 18th. The Director of The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, Leigh Ann Davis, was interviewed for this series in addition to staff and clients on several chapters of The Arc. The series schedule is as follows and can be found at www.npr.org:

  • Jan 8: Morning Edition: Correspondent Joe Shapiro talks about the series with host Steve Inskeep.
  • Jan 8: All Things Considered: The epidemic of sexual abuse of people with intellectual disability. Numbers obtained by NPR show they are sexually assaulted at rates more than 7 times those for all adults without disabilities.
  • Jan 9: Morning Edition: A visit to a Sex Ed class for people with intellectual disability. They talk about how they want relationships, but how the sexual violence of their past often gets in the way.
  • Jan 10: All Things Considered: On cases that go unnoticed when people have difficulty communicating.
  • Jan 16: All Things Considered: Police and prosecutors are often reluctant to take these cases. NPR goes back to Essex County, New Jersey, where the first case to get widespread attention–in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, 25 years ago–was prosecuted. And look at what prosecutors have learned since.
  • Jan 18: Morning Edition: Therapists Nora Baladerian and Karyn Harvey talk about the stunning violence in the lives of their clients.
  • Jan 18: All Things Considered: Self-advocates speak of the effects of sexual violence. This piece is entirely in the voices of people with intellectual disability (plus Joe Shapiro).

Autism – Wandering Bill Passed by the Senate

Kevin and Avonte’s Law passed the full Senate on December 21, 2017 with amendments by voice vote. The Arc supports this bipartisan legislation that assists in locating persons who wander from safe environments and expands the program to include new support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. It also allows Justice Department grants to be used to develop training and emergency protocols, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander because of their condition. Kevin and Avonte’s Law has now passed the Senate as a standalone bill (S. 2070) and it also has passed the Senate as the Grassley-Klobuchar-Tillis-Schumer amendment to the House-passed Federal Register Printing Savings Act (H.R. 195). The next step is for the House to pass it again with the Senate amendment consisting of Kevin and Avonte’s Law before it can go to the President for his signature.

Family Support – House Passes RAISE Family Caregivers Act

The House passed H.R. 3759, the Recognize, Assist, Include, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act by voice vote on December 18, 2017. The Arc supports this bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) that calls for the development of a national strategy to support the nation’s more than 40 million caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sector to create an advisory body. This advisory body would then develop recommendations for how government, communities, providers, employers, and others can better recognize and support family caregivers. The measure now goes back to the Senate.

Health – Labor Department Releases Proposed Rule Expanding Access to ACA Non-Compliant Plans

On January 5, the Employee Benefits Security Administration released a proposed rule expanding the availability of association health plans (AHPs). While these plans are prohibited from discriminating or charging more based on pre-existing conditions, they are not required to cover the essential health benefits generally required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as rehabilitative and habilitative services, and mental health and substance abuse services. This rule has the potential to destabilize the individual and small group health insurance markets, leaving people with disabilities and chronic health condition with skyrocketing premiums.

Budget & Appropriations – Another Short-Term Funding Bill Enacted, Waiving Mandatory Spending Cuts

On December 22, 2017 President Trump signed another stop gap funding bill into law that Congress passed the day before, barely averting a government shutdown. The current spending measure runs through January 19, 2018 and includes a waiver of the “Pay-as-you-go” budget rule. The “Pay-Go” rule would have required $136 billion in annual cuts to several mandatory programs (including $25 billion from Medicare alone) due to the new tax law’s additional $1.5 trillion in deficits over 10 years.

Budget & Appropriations – Historic Tax Law Enacted

The House and Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) on December 20, 2017 by votes of 224 to 201 and 51 to 48, respectively. President Trump signed the measure into law two days later. Though the final version of the legislation removed some of the objectionable provisions from prior versions, such as repeal of the medical expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credits, and the disabled access credit, The Arc strongly opposes this legislation. The TCJA repeals the individual mandate to have health insurance, leading to 13 million fewer people with coverage over 10 years, and increases the deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion over a decade, adding pressure to cut Medicaid and other critical programs while providing tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the most affluent and large corporations. See a summary of what is in the law from Politifact.

Housing – New “Priced Out” Housing Affordability Report Released

The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force have released “Priced Out: The Housing Affordability Crisis for People with Disabilities.” This biennial report documents the nationwide housing affordability crisis experienced by people with disabilities. In 2016, millions of adults with disabilities living solely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) found that renting even a modest one-bedroom unit in their community would require nearly all of their monthly income. In hundreds of higher-cost housing markets, the average rent for such basic units is actually much greater than the entirety of an SSI monthly payment. As outlined in Priced Out, proven solutions to the crisis exist. Visit the Priced Out web site to view the report, summaries, and an interactive tool to help you learn about the affordable housing crisis for people with disabilities in your own state and community.

Education – Administration Seeks to Delay IDEA Racial/Ethnic Disproportionality Rule

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking comments on a plan to delay enforcement of what’s known as the “significant disproportionality” rule for two years. At issue is a rule finalized at the end of the Obama administration aimed at preventing overrepresentation of minorities in special education. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, states must identify school districts with high rates of students from particular racial or ethnic groups that are placed in restrictive settings or are subject to discipline. States use different measures to assess what’s known as “significant disproportionality,” resulting in few districts ever being identified. The rule, which is slated to take effect July 1, 2018, addresses this problem by establishing a uniform, national standard. See the 2013 Government Accountability Office report recommending a standard approach to defining significant disproportionality across states.