Long Term Services and Supports – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Gives Initial Approval to Two Additional State Transition Plans.

On Thursday, June 2, CMS granted initial approval to the Kentucky and Ohio State Transition Plans. Unlike Tennessee, which received final approval, these two states received only initial approval. Additionally, the approval letters strongly discouraged reliance on reverse integration. No state, except for the aforementioned three, have received any formal approval from CMS.

Long Term Services and Supports – New Toolkit Available NOW for the new Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rules

The new HCBS Settings Rules require all settings funded by Medicaid HCBS programs to, among other things, provide opportunities for participants to be integrated in and engage in community life, have access to the community, control their personal resources, and seek employment and work in competitive settings. This new toolkit provides advocates with detailed information about the HCBS Settings Rules and provides action steps for advocates to impact implementation of the new rules in their states. The toolkit contains three documents: (1) The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services Settings Rules: What You Should Know; (2) Home and Community-Based Services Regulations Q&A: Settings Presumed to be Institutional & the Heightened Scrutiny Process, and (3) The Home and Community-Based Settings Rules: How to Advocate for Truly Integrated Community Settings (full and abridged).

Rights/Long Term Services and Supports — Court Rules That Illinois Can Close Murray Developmental Center

Citing a nation-wide trend to increase home and community based services (HCBS) for people with I/DD, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled on the contested closure of Murray Developmental Center (Murray DC). The court held that Illinois could move forward with closing the facility. The ruling cited a growing number of studies that show that people with disabilities experience a higher quality of life in community-based settings as opposed to facility-based care. The ruling in its entirely may be viewed here.

Tax Policy/ABLE Act – Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service Hold Hearing on Qualified ABLE Programs Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Last week, the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held a public hearing on the proposed rules for implementation of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. Speakers included Marty Ford of The Arc, representatives of other major disability advocacy organizations, and representatives of state treasurer’s offices and college savings plan administrators. Speakers fielded questions from representatives of the Treasury Department and IRS. Most speakers stressed the need for a streamlined enrollment process and administrative simplicity. The Department of Treasury and the IRS will now consider all written and oral comments and issue final regulations in the coming months.

Tax Policy/ABLE Act – Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service Hold Hearing on Qualified ABLE Programs Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Last week, the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held a public hearing on the proposed rules for implementation of the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. Speakers included Marty Ford of The Arc, representatives of other major disability advocacy organizations, and representatives of state treasurer’s offices and college savings plan administrators. Speakers fielded questions from representatives of the Treasury Department and IRS. Most speakers stressed the need for a streamlined enrollment process and administrative simplicity. The Department of Treasury and the IRS will now consider all written and oral comments and issue final regulations in the coming months.

ABLE Act: Regulation Comment Period Closed

The comment period for the IRS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for regulations to implement the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act closed on Monday, September 21, 2015.  Most comments have been posted, and other comments will be made available soon. The Arc’s comments can be viewed here. Thank you to all chapters and members who have commented. You have participated in an important part of the democratic process.

Administration on Community Living New Organizational Structure

Last week the Administration on Community Living (ACL) announced an updated organizational structure to reflect changes implemented as a result of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Some key changes are as follows:

  • Creation of the Administration on Disabilities (AOD), led by Commissioner Aaron Bishop
    • Within AOD, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities will be led by a Deputy Director for Developmental Disabilities but remains otherwise unchanged.
    • Also within AOD, is the Independent Living Administration (ILA) created as part of the Rehabilitation Act. ILA’s leader will serve as both the Deputy Commissioner of AOD, and the Director of the ILA. In this dual role, this person serves as a member of the Administrator’s senior leadership team and reports directly to the Administrator for performing the functions of the Director of Independent Living. ILA will manage the independent living programs that moved to ACL under WIOA, as well as programs that serve people with non-developmental disabilities.
  • The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research is a new center on ACL’s organization chart, but NIDILRR itself is unchanged. It will continue to be led by John Tschida as its director.
  • The Center for Consumer Access and Self-Determination has been renamed the Center for Integrated Programs (CIP). CIP will continue to bridge the aging and disability centers and manage the programs that address both populations.

Date Set for 2015 White House Conference on Aging

Last week, Secretary Burwell of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that the 2015 White House Conference on Aging will be held on July 13th, 2015. The conference will bring together government officials, members of the public, caregivers, older Americans, business leaders, and community leaders to discuss a vision for aging in the next decade.  A number of disability-related issues are expected to be addressed during this conference, including aging caregivers, the growing need for family support, and reforms to the long term services and supports system.

If you are interested, please see the 2015 White House Conference on Aging video announcement, visit http://www.whitehouseconferenceonaging.gov.

ABLE Act – IRS Publishes Notices to States Providing Some Guidance to States

On March 10, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Notice 2015-18 to provide advance notification of a provision it expects to be included in the proposed regulations for section 529A of the Internal Revenue Code regarding ABLE Act accounts. The notice makes two important points:

  • First, the “Treasury Department and the IRS do not want the lack of guidance to discourage states from enacting their enabling legislation and creating their ABLE programs, which could delay the ability of the families of disabled individuals or others to begin to fund ABLE accounts for those disabled individuals. Therefore, the Treasury Department and the IRS are assuring states that enact legislation creating an ABLE program in accordance with section 529A, and those individuals establishing ABLE accounts in accordance with such legislation, that they will not fail to receive the benefits of section 529A merely because the legislation or the account documents do not fully comport with the guidance when it is issued. The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to provide transition relief with regard to necessary changes to ensure that the state programs and accounts meet the requirements in the guidance, including providing sufficient time after issuance of the guidance in order for changes to be implemented.”
  • Second, the Treasury Department and the IRS advise the states that the ABLE Act guidance, when issued, may differ in various ways from the current section 529 education programs. “In particular, the Treasury Department and the IRS currently anticipate that, consistent with section 529A(e)(3), the guidance will provide that the owner of an ABLE account is the designated beneficiary of the account. In addition, the Treasury Department and the IRS currently anticipate that the section 529A guidance will provide that, with regard to the ABLE account of a designated beneficiary who is not the person with signature authority over that account, the person with signature authority over the account of the designated beneficiary may neither have nor acquire any beneficial interest in the account and must administer that account for the benefit of the designated beneficiary of that account.”

These are both important clarifications for states moving forward with legislation. The IRS notice can be found at the IRS website.

The ABLE National Resource Center Presents a FREE Webinar: Understanding ABLE

In collaboration with The Arc, National Disability Institute, Autism Speaks, National Down Syndrome Society, and the College Plan Savings Network, The ABLE National Resource Center will host a webinar titled “Understanding ABLE” on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 2 PM EDT. The event will cover ABLE Act core components, as well as the status of implementation at both the federal and state levels. Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, The Arc is one of the featured speakers. Registration for this important event is now open and will be taken on a first come, first serve basis, Should you wish to join us, please sign up online.

Please note: Real time captioning will be provided for this webinar. For other accommodation requests, questions about the webinar, or the registration process, please contact James Thayer.