Tax Policy: ABLE Age Adjustment Act Reintroduced

On March 5, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Pat Roberts (R-KS) reintroduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (S.651). This bill amends the Stephen J. Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act to increase the maximum age of onset limit from before 26 to before 46. The Arc supports the ABLE Age Adjustment Act.

Education: House Committee Holds Hearing on Harmful Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses were Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Arc worked with its state office in Rhode Island to recruit the parent witness and support her testimony.

Visit the Committee website for more information and to access archived video of the hearing. This hearing took place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities. The Arc also appreciates Mrs. Smith’s willingness to tell her family’s story about their difficult, but ultimately successful, experience in obtaining the proper supports in school.

Medicaid/LTSS: MFP Reauthorization Reintroduced in Senate and House

On February 25, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the EMPOWER Care Act (S.548, H.R.1342), which extends the Money Follows the Person Program (MFP) through 2023. The MFP program has helped more than 88,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities move out of nursing homes and institutions. Independent evaluations have proven that MFP improves the quality of life for individuals and has reduced Medicaid and Medicare expenditures by approximately 23%. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. See the action alert.

Health/LTSS: Medicare for All Plan with LTSS Coverage Introduced in the House

On February 28, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, which expands Medicare to cover all residents. It also eliminates all out-of-pocket costs for all benefits except prescription drugs and expands benefits to include long term services and supports (LTSS), among other things. The Arc supports including provisions to address the need for LTSS in any comprehensive health reform proposal.

Education: Scholarship Tax Credit Bill Introduced in the House and Senate

On February 28, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced bills (H.R.1434 and S.634) to provide a 100% federal tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools. The Arc opposes this bill because schools accepting scholarships indirectly supported by the tax credit are not required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Education: House Committee to Hold Hearing on Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint

On February 27, the House Committee on Education and the Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing titled “Classrooms in Crisis: Examining the Inappropriate Use of Seclusion and Restraint Practices.” Witnesses will be Dr. George Sugai, Professor, University of Connecticut; Mrs. Renee Smith of Rhode Island, the parent of a young child with autism spectrum disorder who experienced frequent restraint and seclusion; Ms. Allison Sutton, Special Education Teacher, Wichita Public Schools; and Ms. Jacqueline Nowicki, Director of Education Workforce and Income Security, Government Accountability Office (GAO). Visit the Committee website for more information and to access live video on the day of the hearing. The live stream will begin at 10:00 a.m. EST.

This hearing is taking place in anticipation of the reintroduction of the Keeping All Students Safe Act in the coming weeks. The Arc greatly appreciates the Subcommittee’s effort to bring needed attention to the harmful and unnecessary practices of restraint and seclusion, which are disproportionately used on students with disabilities.

Budget & Appropriations: President Signs Full-Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Appropriations Bill

On February 15, President Trump signed a bill funding the seven remaining appropriations packages for the remainder of FY 2019, which ends September 30. The passage of this bill means that the government will not be shut down over appropriations disputes until after that date. The Arc welcomes enactment of funding for the federal departments that administer programs important to people with disabilities, including the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation.

Health Care: House Committee Holds Hearing on Legislation to Reverse Administration Policies on ACA Implementation

On February 13, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee held a hearing on proposed legislation that would reverse current administration policies on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as the reduction in funding for programs that assist with enrollment and the regulation allowing wider use of short-term limited duration health insurance plans. Witnesses included Grace-Marie Turner, President, Galen Institute; Katie Keith, Associate Research Professor and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University; and Jessica K. Altman, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Visit the Committee website for testimony and archived video of the hearing.