Recently, The Arc submitted comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in July of 2014. The Arc supported numerous provisions in the regulations and proposed modifications to several of the key definitions and other provisions in the regulation. The comments are consistent with The Arc’s Employment position statement and our public policy agenda. For more information about WIOA and some of the key changes impacting people who have I/DD, please see the National Policy Matters on WIOA.
On February 26, The Arc and several chapters submitted comments in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS proposed a number of troubling changes for social welfare organizations (known as 501(c)(4) non-profit organizations). While The Arc appreciates the need to create clearer rules for allowable political activity for the entire non-profit sector, the proposed regulations would create more problems than they solve, having a chilling effect on 501(c)(3) organizations that would stifle civic participation for and on behalf of vulnerable populations. To read The Arc’s comments, visit our website.
On June 15, The Arc submitted comments to the American Psychiatric Association regarding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) draft diagnostic criteria for “Intellectual Developmental Disorder” and “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” DSM definitions are critically important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as numerous federal and state programs as well as private health insurance plans use the DSM to determine eligibility for critical services and supports. Changes to the diagnostic criteria could have devastating effects on individuals with I/DD who need services, supports, and basic protections to remain in their communities. For instance, some individuals could lose eligibility for special education services, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), supportive housing, and protections against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if changes are made to the DSM and later adopted by government agencies. Read The Arc’s letter.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) extended the date for compliance with accessibility requirements for existing swimming pools and spas for 60 days due to misunderstandings among a substantial number of pool owners. The original compliance date was March 15, 2012. DOJ has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to grant an additional extension of six months and is seeking comments on its proposal. The Arc plans to submit comments urging DOJ not to further delay compliance with its accessibility rules. These rules were made final in September 2010 and were based on standards developed by the US Access Board in 2004. The Arc is concerned that by delaying implementation of the access rule for one industry, other businesses might believe that they too can avoid making their businesses accessible if they do not like the rule. Comments are due on or before April 4 and may be submitted at http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOJ-CRT-2012-0006-0001.
The Arc submitted comments to the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office in CMS concerning Massachusetts’ proposal to integrate care for individuals dually eligible for both programs. The Commonwealth was the first to submit a proposal. Several other states have proposals in the pipeline which The Arc will review as well.
On October 27, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for children. The hearing looked at trends, program growth, and recipient outcomes in the SSI program for children. The Arc strongly supports SSI benefits for children and was pleased that a family from The Arc of Kentucky, Katie Bentley and her son Will, attended and were asked questions during the hearing. Last week, The Arc submitted a written statement for the hearing record, urging Congress to support and sustain SSI benefits for children with disabilities.
The Arc joined with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to comment on three important proposed regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One proposed rule implements changes to Medicaid eligibility as a result of the ACA. CCD expressed concerns about how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) interpreted the law and raised issues with the impact on people with disabilities if CMS did not revise its interpretation. In the second rule CCD commented on how the health insurance exchanges should be designed. The last rule was about reinsurance programs and risk adjustment provisions that are designed to remove financial disincentives for private health plans to cover people with disabilities and chronic conditions starting in 2014.
On Thursday, The DPC’s Marty Ford will provide testimony to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on the development of the essential benefits package under the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contracted with the IOM to develop recommendations that HHS can use to develop regulations implementing this part of the law. Her comments will focus on the inclusion of habilitation services as part of the benefit design. Habilitation services are those that enable a person with a significant disability to acquire, retain, improve or prevent deterioration of activities of daily living (ADL) or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) skills and function over time.
The Arc and UCP, in collaboration with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), submitted extensive comments to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on policy related to the essential benefits package in the ACA. The IOM has put together a panel to provide HHS with recommendations on how to implement this provision, including critical questions such as how to define “essential”, what is medical necessity, how to prevent discriminating against people with disabilities and health conditions, and how to ensure that benefits are balanced among categories. CCD strongly supports having a robust essential benefits package which includes rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices, as well as mental health benefits. CCD also provided comments to the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid on the implementation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). ACOs are intended to create greater heath care efficiencies by having health care providers work together in new ways. Providers are incentivized to do this by sharing in the health care cost savings they achieve. CCD is concerned that people with greater health care needs will be underserved and urges that any savings be linked with improved patient outcomes. See our comments at http://www.thearc.org/document.doc?id=2865