Late last week, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (HR 1314) providing a measure of relative budgetary stability after months of uncertainty. President Obama signed the measure today. The legislation suspends the debt limit until March 15, 2017 and contains a number of provisions that are relevant to the disability community:
- Reallocating Social Security payroll taxes on a temporary basis, to allow Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to pay full promised benefits until the third quarter of 2022. This action will prevent the 20% cut in SSDI that had been projected at the end of 2016. The legislation also includes a number of provisions that seek to enhance payment accuracy and program administration, and authorizes a demonstration project that would test a new SSDI benefit offset to test ways to end the SSDI “cash cliff” for beneficiaries attempting to work.
- Raising the spending caps on discretionary programs. The caps on defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) accounts will be raised by $80 billion above the sequester level for fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017. Many disability-related programs (such as housing, education, and employment) fall under the NDD funding category which will increase by approximately 5% for both fiscal years.
- Limiting the expected increase in 2016 Medicare Part B premiums for the 30% of beneficiaries not already protected from the increase.
- Repealing a provision of the Affordable Care Act that required employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll new employees in a health insurance plan if one is offered. This provision had not yet been implemented.
Read a section-by-section analysis of the bill here.