House Passes 2015 Budget That Would Drastically Cut Disability Spending

On April 10, the House passed the Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2015 by a vote of 219 to 205. The proposed budget, introduced by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) the previous week, sets federal spending and revenue priorities for the next decade. The budget calls for reducing spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years and cutting individual and corporate taxes. Below is a summary of key disability-related elements:

  • Block grants the Medicaid program and cuts federal spending for the programs by $810 billion.
  • Privatizes Medicare by turning it into a voucher program.
  • Reduces spending for non-defense discretionary programs to pre-2008 levels and freezes it there for five years. Many important disability-related programs fall under this category, such as housing, education, employment, protection and advocacy, and transportation.
  • Repeals the Affordable Care Act.
  • Calls for a bipartisan process to develop reforms for Social Security.

The Senate is not expected to take up the measure.

Department of Justice Enters Statewide Settlement Agreement with Rhode Island

The Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into the first statewide settlement agreement with the state of Rhode Island on behalf of people who are “unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.”  DOJ found that the state’s day activity service system over-relied on segregated settings to the exclusion of integrated alternatives in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the settlement agreement, approximately 3,250 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) will have the opportunity to obtain integrated employment that pays at least minimum wage or participate in non-work activities in the community.  The consent decree will require the state to provide supported employment services over the next 10 years to about 2,000 people, including 700 in sheltered workshops, 950 people in facility-based non-work programs, and about 300 leaving high school.  Rhode Island also will provide transition services, such as trial work experiences, job site visits, and supported employment to 1,250 students between the ages of 14 and 21.  After having experiences in competitive employment settings, individuals who choose to remain at sheltered workshops may do so.

DOJ estimates that about 450,000 individuals with I/DD are in sheltered workshops nationwide.  The Rhode Island settlement provides a “road map” for other states to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Advocates Gather For The 38th Annual Disability Policy Seminar

The 38th annual Disability Policy Seminar (DPS), held last week, proved to be the largest one ever with more than 700 registered participants. The opening plenary featured special guest former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and an engaging panel of staff leaders from the Bipartisan Policy Center, moderated by former Congressman Tony Coelho (D-CA). In the evening, attendees were inspired by a speech by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) that included a rousing call to advocate for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Seminar included a packed two days of panels on issues affecting people with disabilities, concluding with the all-important hill visits with Members of Congress.   This annual event is co-sponsored by The Arc, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, and United Cerebral Palsy. The co-sponsors were also joined by the Sibling Leadership Network as a promotional partner. Next year, DPS will take place on April 13-15 and the hope is to increase advocacy and set a new attendance record.

Legislation Introduced to Ensure Charter Schools Enroll and Retain Students With Disabilities

Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, which would help ensure that Charter Schools enroll and retain students with disabilities.  The bill would require states to ensure that charter schools can meet the needs of students with disabilities and meet their obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504.  The Arc joined other organizations in supporting H.R. 10.

Deadline for Marchand Fall 2014 Internship Application Extended – New Deadline is May 1

For 38 years, Paul Marchand was a dedicated disability policy advocate and recognized leader working on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the entire disability community. Upon his retirement in 2011, The Arc, with substantial contributions from United Cerebral Palsy, other organizations, and individuals with whom Paul worked during his decades in Washington, established an internship to honor Paul and to continue to cultivate disability policy advocates. The Paul Marchand Internship Fund will provide $3,000 per semester or summer session to assist interns pursuing careers in public policy advocacy for people with I/DD. See Application information and Internship FAQs for more information.

Opportunity to Provide Your Feedback During An Online Dialogue on FTA’s Section 5310 Performance Measures

This is the last week to offer your feedback on the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Section 5310 Measures through an open dialogue hosted by Easter Seals Project Action (ESPA).  The Section 5310 program is intended to enhance mobility for seniors and persons with disabilities by providing funds for programs to serve the special needs of transit-dependent populations beyond traditional public transportation services and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary para-transit services.

Participants can discuss:

  • What performance measures reflect the benefits of the Section 5310 program
  • Top ways Section 5310 funding can be used to meet transportation needs
  • The extent to which your agency will be able to collect data
  • FTA is considering combining the reporting requirements of Section 5335(c) into a single requirement for recipients of Section 5310. The method will utilize the National Transit Database (NTD) system for recipients of Section 5310, Section 5311, or Section 5307 to report on behalf of their sub recipients.

You can share your thoughts on specific questions, post your own questions, or vote on ideas through this online dialogue. To register, visit the ESPA website.


Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period Closing Today

March 31st marks the closing of the open enrollment period for private health insurance provided through the marketplaces.  The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that over 6 million people have signed up for health insurance coverage.  Some people may qualify for a special extended enrollment period if they have had problems signing up for insurance coverage before the deadline.  If you think you qualify but haven’t been notified, you can ask for a special enrollment period by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and letting them know your circumstances.  The call center will ask a series of questions to see if you qualify.  Make sure you have evidence that you’ve tried to enroll but were not successful.

New Data on Autism Prevalence Released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Last week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data showing that the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues to rise.  The new rate of 1 in 68 reflects a 30% increase from two years ago when the CDC released data that 1 in 88 children has autism.

ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that are often diagnosed in early childhood and can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges over a lifetime.  The Arc is the largest provider organization for people with autism in the United States.  Chapters of The Arc provide services and supports for people with autism, their families, and service providers.  To read The Arc’s full statement, visit our blog.

Message from Senator Tom Harkin on The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) convened a group of disability, civil rights, and veterans advocates to strategize about a final push for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Efforts are directed toward a vote in July around the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Senator Harkin has a message for supporters of the treaty and a plea for assistance.  Please go to to watch Senator Harkin’s message.

Department of Labor Releases Guidance on Shared Living Arrangements and the Fair Labor Standards Act

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2014-1 and Fact Sheet #79G: Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Shared Living Programs, including Adult Foster Care and Paid Roommate Situations.  These documents provide additional guidance on how DOL’s Final Rule, Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service, might affect certain “shared living” arrangements.  Shared living arrangements are often funded by Medicaid or other public sources and involve arrangements in which a person receiving supports and services and a direct care professional providing the supports live together.  The new rule will take effect January 1, 2015.