Housing: Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Comments Due March 16

On January 14, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a proposed rule that erodes the protections of the Fair Housing Act. The proposed rule is a big step back from efforts to fight housing discrimination and segregation in the U.S. The proposed rule has many harmful changes, and it removes language requiring that steps to affirmatively further fair housing include expanding opportunities for people with disabilities to live in “the most integrated setting appropriate to the individual’s needs.” A comment template can be found here. Submit comments here by March 16. Learn more with this short explainer and at www.fightforhousingjustice.org/affh.

Family Support: Senate Approves Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act

On February 24, the Senate passed the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019 (S.995) by unanimous consent. The Lifespan Respite Care Program, through grants to states, helps build coordinated state lifespan respite systems, helps family caregivers pay for respite or find funding sources, encourages development of new and innovative community and faith based respite opportunities, and trains respite workers and volunteers. The House passed its version (H.R.2035) last summer so the Senate measure now goes back to the House for final passage. The Arc supports this legislation.

Education: 41st Annual Report to Congress on IDEA Implementation Released

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the Department of Education report annually on the progress made toward the provision of a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities and the provision of early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities. The report focuses on the children and students with disabilities being served under IDEA, Parts C or B, nationally and at the state level. Notable findings in the 41st annual report, which covers the 2016-2017 school year, include:

  • Almost one-half of students reported under the category of intellectual disability (49.2 percent) and students reported under the category of multiple disabilities (46.1 percent) were educated inside the regular class less than 40 percent of the day.
  • From 2007-08 through 2016-17, the high school graduation percentage increased by at least 5 percentage points for each disability category except intellectual disability (4.7 percentage points), multiple disabilities (0.1 percentage points), orthopedic impairment (1.6 percentage points), and visual impairment (3.4 percentage points).
  • The percentage of students with intellectual disability who graduated with a regular high school diploma decreased slightly from the previous year from 42.4 percent 42.2 percent.

Immigration: Public Charge Rule Takes Effect

On February 24, the public charge rule takes effect nationwide. The public charge rule defines how the Department of Homeland Security decides who is inadmissible to the U.S. because the government thinks they are likely to become a “public charge,” based on the use of certain government benefits. The rule will make it extremely difficult for people with disabilities to immigrate to the United States. It will also discourage those who are already here from using critical public benefits, including the Medicaid-funded home and community based services that many people with disabilities rely on to fully participate in their communities. The Arc and other disability advocacy groups filed amicus briefs in lawsuits attempting to block implementation of the rule. However, the Supreme Court issued an order lifting a nationwide injunction on January 27. While the rule is currently in effect, litigation is ongoing. Learn more.

Family Support/Employment: House Committee Holds Hearing on Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act

On February 11, the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing titled “Balancing Work, Health, and Family: The Case for Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act.” Witnesses were State Representative Sydney Batch (NC); Anthony Sandkamp, owner, Sandkamp Woodworks LLC, Jersey City, NJ; Rachel Greszler, Research Fellow in Economics, Budgets, and Entitlements, the Heritage Foundation; and Elisabeth Jacobs, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Urban Institute. The Arc supports legislation (H.R. 5456) to expand eligibility of job protected leave to include siblings, domestic partners, and others that will be among the issues discussed in the hearing. Visit the Committee website for more information or to access video the day of the hearing. View the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities statement here.

Budget & Appropriations: President’s Budget Request for FY 2021 Released Last Week

On February 10, President Trump released his Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY 2021). The budget contains about $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and Social Security. Additionally, the budget cuts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or foods stamps by 30% and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs by 15%. Furthermore, the budget cuts many of the discretionary programs that people with disabilities rely on for their health and well-being. Click here to see a listing of discretionary programs and their proposed percentage cuts. See The Arc’s statement.

Medicaid/LTSS: HCBS Infrastructure Improvement Act Introduced in Senate

On February 12, Senator Robert P. Casey (D-PA) introduced the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Infrastructure Improvement Act (S.3277). This bill provides seven-year grants to states to improve the Home and Community Based Services systems by doing at least three of the following:

  • Increasing the availability of housing;
  • Expanding transportation options;
  • Increasing wages, benefits, and support for direct support professionals;
  • Expanding competitive integrated employment; and
  • Building no-wrong-door application, referral, and counseling systems.

The Arc supports this legislation. Learn more.

The Arc Joins Bipartisan Policy Center Letter Calling for the Filling of Two Social Security and Medicare Trustee Seats

On February 11, Marty Ford, Senior Advisor at The Arc, joined over 100 individuals, including former government officials of both parties, academics, and representatives of organizations with a broad spectrum of viewpoints, in calling on the U.S. Senate to act on the pending nominations for the two public trustees for the Boards of Trustees of the Social Security, Disability Insurance, and Medicare Trust Funds. These positions have been vacant since 2015, leavings the boards without independent voices.

Budget & Appropriations: President’s Budget for FY 2021 Released Today

President Trump released his Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY 2021). The budget contains many of the same harmful proposals for people with disabilities that it has in past years, primarily cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security as well as many of the discretionary programs that people with disabilities rely on for their health and wellbeing. The Arc will be analyzing the budget for impacts on people with disabilities and issuing a statement shortly.