Health – President Trump Signs ACA Executive Order

In one of his first actions after being sworn in, President Trump signed an executive order regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) instructing federal agencies to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay any part of the law that the agency determines negatively impacts those affected. Those affected include consumers, doctors, hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other health care providers. It is unclear at this point how the federal agencies will move forward or what the response will be from the insurance industry or the states. The Arc is concerned about the impact these executive actions may have and will monitor them closely.

Health/Technology – Access Board Issues Final Rule on Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment

On January 9, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) issued a final rule on Standards for Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE). The accessibility standards provide minimum technical criteria for MDE, including but not limited to, examination tables, examination chairs, weight scales, and mammography equipment. The MDE Standards do not impose any mandatory requirements on health care providers or medical device manufacturers. However, other agencies may issue regulations or adopt policies that require health care providers to acquire accessible MDE that complies with these Standards.

Health – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of HHS Nominee

On January 18, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is the cabinet level department that administers most federal health and social service programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act programs, Developmental Disabilities Act programs, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Additionally, it oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Budget/Health Care – House Approves Bill to Advance Repeal of Health Care Law

On January 13, the House passed the fiscal year 2017 budget resolution, by a vote of 227 to 198, that was passed by the Senate the day before. The budget resolution begins the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and may result in other harmful provisions for people with disabilities. The measure provides “reconciliation instructions” to four authorizing committees so that ACA repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process and can advance with only a simple majority in the Senate instead of the usual 60 votes required to avoid a filibuster:

Each of these committees is charged with developing legislation to achieveat least $1 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years and submitting it to their respective budget committees by January 27, 2017. These instructions are intended to produce repeal of parts of the ACA that impact mandatory spending or revenue such as the individual mandate to have health insurance, federal subsidies to purchase health insurance, funding for Medicaid expansion, and various taxes that help fund the ACA. However, since the instructions are broad, the resulting legislation could include other provisions that could be threat to Medicaid or other federal.

The Arc strongly opposes repeal of the ACA and structural changes or cuts in funding to Medicaid. See our action alert and our Lifeline campaign.

Health – HHS Issues Guidance of Accessibility of Health Electronic and Information Technology

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights issued guidance clarifying obligations of providers and insurers under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act as they relate to Electronic and Information Technology. Covered entities must ensure that the use of electronic technology does not result in people with disabilities being denied equal access. The document specifically addresses websites, medical kiosks, and electronic health records.

Family Support/Health Care – New Study Discusses Costs of Family-Provided Health Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs

A study published in the journal Pediatrics examines the costs of family caregiving for children with special health care needs (CSHCN). There are about 5.6 million CSHCN in the U.S. who receive a total of 1.5 billion hours of uncompensated family care. Replacement with home health would cost approximately $35.7 billion, an average of $6,400 per child. The cost in forgone earnings for caregivers was about $17.6 billion or $3,200 per child.

Budget/Health Care – Repeal of Health Care Law May Advance This week

The Senate is expected to vote on Wednesday, January 11 on a budget resolution that would begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). See article above for more information and take action!

The House may also begin a series of votes this week on a reconciliation bill to repeal the ACA, starting in the Rules Committee. The House bill is expected to include language defunding Planned Parenthood which could result in loss of support in the Senate.

Budget/Health Care – Senate Advances Repeal of Health Care Law

On January 4, the Senate approved, with a nearly party line vote of 51 to 48, a procedural motion to move ahead with a fiscal year 2017 budget resolutionintroduced the day before that is intended to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and may result in other harmful provisions for people with disabilities. The measure provides “reconciliation instructions” to four authorizing committees so that repeal legislation can move through a fast-track process and can advance with only a simple majority in the Senate instead of the usual 60 votes required:

Each of these committees is charged with developing legislation to achieveat least $1 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years (fiscal years 2017 through 2026) to submit to their proposals respective Budget Committees by January 27, 2017. These instructions are intended to produce repeal of parts of the ACA that impact mandatory spending or revenue such as the individual mandate to have health insurance, federal subsidies to purchase health insurance, funding for Medicaid expansion, and various taxes that help fund the ACA. However, since the instructions are broad, the resulting legislation could include other provisions that will cut federal spending such as block granting the Medicaid program.

The Senate began to debate the budget resolution and is expected to continue working on amendments this week. Congressional leaders have stated their intent to have the budget resolution adopted by both chambers by Jan. 20, when Donald Trump will be sworn in as president.

The Arc strongly opposes repeal of the ACA and structural changes or cuts in funding to Medicaid. See our action alert and our Lifeline campaign.

Health Care – Congressional Leadership Developing Plan to Repeal the ACA in early January

Congressional leaders are laying the groundwork for a rapid repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning on the first day of the new Congress, before President-elect Donald Trump is even sworn in. It appears they are seeking to repeal the ACA without developing a replacement plan. The Arc urges all advocates to begin early and sustained action to protect the ACA and its many protections and benefits for people with disabilities. We will be sending materials soon in support of our advocacy campaign.

Health Care – House Passes Medical Research Bill

Last week the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34) by a wide margin (392-26). The bill would provide additional funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health, speed up the approval of treatments at the Food and Drug Administration, and help combat opioid abuse, among other provisions. It also incorporates the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” which makes numerous changes to the mental health system. Additionally, it incorporates the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, which allows non-elderly individuals with disabilities to establish a special needs trust on their own without having to file a petition with a court. However, the bill contains some controversial provisions such as one requiring states to use an electronic visit verification system for Medicaid-provided personal care services and home health services. Furthermore, it takes $3.5 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to help pay for the cost of the bill. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week.