On Wednesday, June 19, the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on encouraging work through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. The hearing will take place in B-318 Rayburn House Office Building beginning at 10:00 am.
The hearing will examine the impact of the disability insurance program on the economy, efforts by Social Security to return individuals to work, efforts internationally to return individuals to work, and other options to encourage work. To read more visit the Subcommittee website.
On Thursday, June 20, the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a full committee hearing entitled, “Developing a Skilled Workforce for a Competitive Economy: Reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act.” For more information visit the committee website.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guidance to HUD-assisted housing providers on how they can support state and local Olmstead efforts to increase the integrated housing opportunities for individuals with disabilities who are transitioning from, or at serious risk of entering, institutions and other restrictive, segregated settings.
The House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) released five policy ideas for overhauling Medicaid, including an idea offered in a blueprint with Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for per capita caps. The ideas were discussed during a hearing of the Committee’s Health Subcommittee.
The Health, Education Labor and Pensions committee voted along party lines to approve the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, S.1094, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). S.1094 is in line with the CCD Principles on reauthorization.
The bill has the support of all 11 Democratic Members of the HELP Committee, although no Republican supporters. The bill would strengthen accountability for subgroups of students, including those with disabilities, in the areas of academic growth and achievement and graduation from high school ready for college or a career. It would allow the 37 states that have waivers to continue using them. States could count 1% of students with significant cognitive disabilities to be tested on alternate standards. If schools miss their goals for subgroups, there would have to be some type of intervention from the state.
Ranking Member of the HELP committee, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has also introduced a bill called Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, S.1101. It tracks closely with a draft bill by Congressman John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which would eliminate federal accountability systems in favor of state standards. Both plans would also block grant most federal education spending in order to increase state and local flexibility and allow much broader use of alternate and modified achievement standards for students with disabilities. The House plans to consider its version of ESEA reauthorization this summer.
The Senate voted to begin debate on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S. 744, by a vote of 84-15. Supporters of the bill are trying to gather 60 votes, the number of votes needed to avoid a filibuster. Numerous amendments to the bill will be debated over the next several days with the goal of finishing before the July 4 recess.
The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) held a briefing on the Hill focused on the impact of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on global commerce and international accessibility. Each of the panelists agreed that ratification of the CRPD will create global business opportunities, especially in the realm of assistive technology. Creating accessible infrastructures is dependent upon a global exchange of knowledge on disabilities. Both people with disabilities and the U.S. economy would benefit from working together with other countries on innovative accessibility solutions.
The Commission on Long Term Care, which was created by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, has scheduled its first meeting for June 27. The 15-member panel selected Bruce A. Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, as its chairman. The SCAN Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the current long-term care system. Chernof, who is a doctor, was appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The vice-chairman will be Mark Warshawsky, director of retirement research at the consulting firm Towers Watson. Warshawsky was named by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Christopher Jacobs, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, will replace former Louisiana Secretary of Health and Hospitals, Bruce Greenstein, who resigned from his state job. The commission has until October to plan for the establishment, implementation, and financing of a comprehensive, coordinated, and high-quality system that ensures the availability of long-term services and supports for individuals in need.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) reached an interim settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island and the city of Providence resolving violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The agreement addresses the unnecessary segregation of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in a sheltered workshop and segregated day activity service program and the placement of students with I/DD at risk of unnecessary segregation in those programs. The settlement impacts about 200 Rhode Islanders with I/DD who have received services in the segregated programs. The state will no longer fund the sheltered workshop or segregated day program and the city will stop funding the in-school sheltered workshop. Over the next year, individuals will receive person-centered career development planning, transitional services, supported employment, and integrated day services with the goal of working 20 hours per week at competitive wages.
Several advocacy organizations, including The Arc, participated in a webinar that explains the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and why ratification by the U.S. Senate is so important. The webinar is part of an advocacy toolkit that includes materials that can be used to support ratification of the CRPD. More materials are available on the USICD website.