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.

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.

Health/Rights – Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Releases Final Rule on Non-Discrimination in Federally Funded Health Programs

On Friday, May 13, HHS released an advanced notice of a final ruleimplementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rule clarifies the responsibilities of covered providers and insurers regarding non-discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. It applies to Health Insurance Marketplaces and every program or activity administered by HHS, with the exception of Medicare Part B. The Arc will be reviewing the regulations and will provide additional analysis.

Rights/Health – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Final Wellness Rules

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is issuing two final rules making changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) regulations as they relate to employee wellness programs. The ADA regulation changes provide guidance on the extent to which employers may use incentives to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs that ask them to respond to disability-related inquiries and/or undergo medical examinations. The GINA regulation addresses the extent to which an employer may offer an inducement to an employee for the employee’s spouse to provide information about the spouse’s manifestation of disease or disorder as part of a health risk assessment (HRA) administered in connection with an employer-sponsored wellness program. The regulations will be published in the Federal Register on May 17 and The Arc will provide additional analysis.

Health/Budget & Appropriations – House Committee Approves Major Cuts to Health Programs

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has approved H.R. 4725, the Common Sense Savings Act of 2016. This bill, introduced by Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA), makes major cuts to Medicaid and other health programs, many of which will negatively impact our community. These cuts are achieved by including certain one-time, lump-sum payments in determining income eligibility, such as: lottery winnings, damages received in a law suit or settlement, and inheritance; shifting certain Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program costs to states; and repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

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.

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.

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.

Health Care – House Passes and President Obama Vetoes Health Care Legislation

On January 6th, the House voted 240-181 to pass H.R. 3762, “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” which repeals substantial parts of the Affordable Care Act. On January 8th President Obama vetoed the legislation.

The package, which the Senate passed in December, would have removed the penalties used to enforce the mandates that most individuals have health coverage and 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.

The measure also would have scrapped a lengthy list of taxes used to help offset the cost of the health law, including the taxes on medical devices, health insurers and so-called “Cadillac” employer-sponsored health plans that will receive temporary suspensions under the year-end funding and tax package. In addition, the package would have stopped most federal money from flowing to Planned Parenthood for one year and boost funding for community health centers.

Health – Congress Delays Implementation of Harmful Complex Wheelchair Components Proposal

On December 18, The House and Senate passed S. 2425, the “Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act.” The bill includes, among other bipartisan Medicare provisions, a one-year delay preventing CMS from inappropriately restricting access to critical complex wheelchair components, which was slated to begin on January 1, 2016. The one year delay will allow advocates time to fix the barriers facing individuals with significant disabilities who need access to specialized technology. The President is expected to sign the legislation.