On March 9, the Senate voted to rescind an Obama administration regulation on accountability, state plan, and data reporting that guides states on evaluating school performance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The measure (H.J. Res. 57), passed by a vote of 50-49, used the Congressional Review Act which forbids the Department of Education from issuing substantially similar rules in the future. In a February 10 letter, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised to issue further guidance today to states on implementing ESSA. The House approved H.J. Res. 57 last month and the measure now heads to President Donald Trump for his signature. The Arc opposed rescinding the accountability, state plan, and data reporting regulation. See the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force (of which The Arc is a member) in opposition to rescission of the regulation here.
On March 8 and 9, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup of the Medicaid and other provisions of the American Health Care Act, those parts of the repeal and replace bill over which the Committee has jurisdiction. The bill will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by altering the current federal/state partnership and cost reimbursement structure and replacing it with a per capita cap. This will significantly limit federal funding to the states now and into the future. In addition, the bill will begin the process of repealing major sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the same days, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup repealing the tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making other changes.
These Committee markups are part of the budget reconciliation process which allows only certain revenue and spending provisions to be included. The Committee bills will be combined into one bill by the House Budget Committee, possibly as early as this week. We understand that the plan is to have the bill ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives before the end of March. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he hopes to schedule a vote on the House bill before the mid-April recess. If passed by the Congress, the legislative direction the House leadership is considering would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and their families. The Arc will continue to convey our concerns to Congress about the impact of the repeal of the ACA and restructuring of Medicaid. Visit the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committee web sites for more information or to access archived video of the markups.
On February 2, the Senate Budget Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Rep. Mike Mulvaney (R-SC) to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB is the largest division within the Executive Office of the President. It is charged with developing the budget and overseeing the implementation of the President’s agenda across the Executive Branch. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access the archived video of the hearing.
On February 27, Alabama became the 18th state to launch a qualified ABLE Program. This program is open to eligible individuals nationwide. The plan has three investment options, a bank savings option, and a checking option. There is a quarterly fee of $11.25 and annual asset-based fees that range from 0.50% to 0.56% for investment options. Additionally, there is a minimum initial deposit of $50. More information about state implementation the ABLE Act can be found here.
General information about ABLE programs can be found in the National Policy Matters: ABLE Accounts for People with Disabilities here.
We need your input and help disseminating this crucial survey! The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with The Arc, is seeking caregivers to share their perceptions on a range of life-span issues impacting individuals with I/DD. We are inviting family or unrelated caregivers aged 18 years or older who provide frequent primary support to a person with an I/DD to participate. The results of the 2010 Survey provided unique insight into the growing gaps in education, employment, and other life-span activities that exist between persons with disabilities and their non-disabled peers, which has informed further dialogue and policy changes at the Federal and State levels. Take the survey and share it widely in your networks! Deadline: March 30.
We are less than a month away from the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar! Join us in the heart of Washington D.C. from March 20-22 to cultivate champions on Capitol Hill and advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn from the experts about the issues that matter to you and network with other advocates from across the country as you prepare to interface and build relationships with your representatives. The Disability Policy Seminar is your chance to make an impact! Register here.
On March 2, the Senate Finance Committee voted 14-12 to recommend that the full Senate confirm Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a health insurance program for Social Security beneficiaries. Medicaid is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals. Both programs serve people with disabilities. In addition to medical care, Medicaid also covers long term supports and services such as residential support, home and community based services, personal assistance, respite care, supported living, assistive technology, and supported employment.
On March 2, the Senate confirmed Ben Carson as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by a vote of 58-41. HUD is the cabinet level department that oversees federal housing programs and enforces housing laws such as the Fair Housing Act.
This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means Committee are each expected to begin markup of a bill that will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by altering the current federal/state partnership and cost reimbursement structure and replacing it with a per capita cap. This will significantly limit federal funding to the states now and into the future. In addition, the bill will begin the process of repealing major sections of the Affordable Care Act. These Committee markups are part of the budget reconciliation process which allows only certain revenue and spending provisions to be included. The Committee bills are expected to move quickly and be combined into one bill by the House Budget Committee. We understand that the plan is to have the bill ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives before the end of March. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he hopes to schedule a vote on the House bill before the mid-April recess. The bill development has been controversial because no official version is available for public review. The draft bill has been very closely held and some Members of Congress have publicly complained about not being able to obtain a copy of the bill. However, based on leaked earlier versions, The Arc believes that, if passed by the Congress, the legislative direction the House leadership is considering would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and their families. The Arc will continue to convey our concerns about the impact of the repeal of the ACA and restructuring of Medicaid to Congress.
Late last week, a draft bill believed to be under consideration for the House Republican approach to restructuring Medicaid and repealing the Affordable Care Act was “leaked”. It is believed that the draft bill and perhaps other draft bills have been sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to obtain cost estimates (known as “scoring”) expected to assist the House Energy and Commerce Committee in preparing legislation for possible mark-up during the week of March 6. It is, of course, unknown until the Committee releases its own bill what the actual legislation will try to achieve. However, given the elements of the leaked version and the proposals that have been discussed to date, it is likely to involve repeal of key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and drastic cuts to Medicaid through permanent restructuring of the federal/state partnership relationship. Therefore, continued advocacy is more urgent than ever. See action alert: TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT GUTTING OF THE ACA AND MEDICAID.