House Passes Bi-Partisan Medicare Fix

By an overwhelming margin, the House passed H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act, which would change the way Medicare reimburses physicians and would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years.   The bipartisan bill passed 392-37.  The Senate is planning to take up the measure when it returns in two weeks.  If Congress does not act, Medicare providers face a 21% cut in their reimbursement for medical care provided to eligible Medicare beneficiaries.   The bill also would make permanent a program to help low income Medicare beneficiaries pay for premiums and would permanently expand a Medicaid provision that helps families on Medicaid maintain their coverage for one year as they transition from temporary assistance to work.  The bill also would extend the therapy cap exceptions process and the Family –to-Family Health Information Centers for two years.  The Arc supports making these provisions permanent as well as a longer extension of CHIP.

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment For Health Insurance Marketplaces Ends

Open enrollment for health insurance offered through the marketplaces ended February 15, 2015.  Extra time is allowed for people who started the enrollment process but did not finish.  There are also special enrollment periods for people who lose their health coverage or experience another qualifying change in their situation.  The administration is reporting that 11.4 million people signed up or were re-enrolled for health insurance during the open enrollment period.   For more information about health insurance visit: https://www.healthcare.gov.

Open Enrollment for Health Plans Ends February 15th

Open enrollment for health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act ends February 15.  This is an opportunity for people who do not have health insurance to purchase it.  There is also help with paying the costs of health insurance for low and moderate income individuals.  To learn more about what is available in your state visit the health care website.

National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative Releases New Fact Sheets

Last week, new fact sheets were released for the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative (NDNRC).  These latest installments are part of a series that will help health care assistors with information they need to help specific populations within the disability community chose an appropriate health care plan.  Previously released fact sheets include information on Autism, Intellectual Disability, Multiple Sclerosis, Mental Illness and Veterans Affairs.  In addition, educational webinars will be offered on a variety of topics. The Arc is a participating organization with the NDNRC. For additional information visit the NDNRC website.

New Public Service Announcement on the Affordable Care Act and People With Disabilities

On November 14, the White House released a new public service announcement on the Affordable Care Act and people with disabilities.  It explains how individuals with disabilities can no longer be denied health coverage because of health history.  The public service announcement was released to coincide with open enrollment, which began on Saturday, November 15, and ends on February 15.  This time period will be a chance for individuals already enrolled in healthcare to re-enroll and for individuals not yet enrolled to sign up to begin receiving healthcare.  To see the new announcement view it on The White House YouTube page.  For additional information on coverage, please visit www.healthcare.gov.

TRICARE Autism Demonstration Program Launched; Rate Cut Delayed

On Sept 19, The Department of Defense’s TRICARE program published its new Autism Care Demonstration guidance.  While the program includes several improvements, it also includes a nearly 50% reduction of reimbursement rates for board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) delivered therapy and more. The program was subsequently launched on Oct. 20; however, after strong opposition from advocates, the BCBA reimbursement policy has been delayed by 180 days. Learn more at Autism Speaks.

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Begins This Week

Now is the time for individuals who are uninsured or looking for affordable health insurance to investigate the private health insurance plans available through state marketplaces (to find your state information visit the health care website.   During “open enrollment”, a person can purchase private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. There may also be financial assistance to help with health care costs available for low and moderate income. It is also important for people who currently have insurance through the marketplace, to look at the plan and determine if it will continue to meet the needs of the person, or select a better plan. Individuals who do not take action will be automatically re-enrolled in the current plan. Re-enrollment is also an important opportunity for people to report any changes in income.

2015 Open Enrollment

November 15, 2014 – Open enrollment begins

December 15, 2014 – Enroll before this date to have coverage January 1, 2015

February 15, 2015 – Open enrollment ends

For more information and where to get help, read more on The Arc’s blog.

Autism CARES Signed by President Obama

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by President Obama. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for an additional five years and makes a number of improvements to it. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by the age of three, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention. The new law continues these efforts and makes the following improvements – a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self-advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth.For more information on the accomplishments of the prior legislation see, “Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010-FY 2012)”.

Autism CARES Is Law

The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2014 was signed into law on August 8, 2014 by President Obama. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA), reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act of 2011 for an additional five years and makes a number of improvements to it. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has significantly advanced the science and practice in the disability field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts. This has resulted in an increase in the proportion of infants screened for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), an increase in the proportion of children diagnosed by the age of three, and continuing improvements to decrease the time between diagnosis and intervention. The new law includes continues these efforts and make the following improvements – a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth.For more information on the accomplishments of the prior legislation see, “Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010-FY 2012)”.

Senate Passes Autism CARES Act

Late on July 31, the Senate unanimously passed “Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2014” or the “Autism CARES Act” (S. 2449), sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) . The bill reauthorizes the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 for an additional five years. Since its original enactment in 2006, the law has advanced the science and practice in the autism field by increasing the number, scope, pace, and coordination of research, surveillance, public awareness, and professional training efforts.   The new measure will continue these efforts and includes a number of welcome changes: a name change that uses more respectful language, a designated ASD position in the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the law’s implementation, increased representation of self-advocates and family members on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and requiring a report on the needs of transitioning youth. For more information on the accomplishments of the Combating Autism Act, visit the HHS website.