In June, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new proposed rule that weakens the current interpretation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits health programs or activities that get federal funds from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. The proposed rule would diminish the ACA’s anti-discrimination protections for people with disabilities. To learn more about how the proposed rule impacts people with disabilities, read The Arc’s blog post and this fact sheet from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) on the topic. CCD has also provided a comment template with instructions for submitting comments. Comments are due on August 13.
Last week, in conjunction with the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Representatives Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Bob Casey (D-PA) re-introduced the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act (H.R.4045/S.2290). This bill will double the Disabled Access Credit (DAC) and increase the number of businesses eligible for it. The DAC is a tax credit for small businesses that make renovations to make their facilities accessible. Additionally, the bill increases funding for the voluntary ADA Mediation Program in the Department of Justice and requires data collection and reporting on the types of calls received by the ADA Information Line.
On May 24, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an advance copy of a proposed rule to weaken its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The proposed rule would narrow protections for all people experiencing discrimination under the law, eliminate protections for LGBTQ people, and roll back protections for people with limited English proficiency, among other impacts. The Arc is reviewing the proposed rule and will provide further analysis.
On February 14, the Senate confirmed Attorney General William Barr with a vote of 54-45. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On February 7, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visit the Committee website for more information or to view archived video of the hearing.
On January 15, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reintroduced the Disability Integration Act (H.R.555/S.117). The Disability Integration Act requires states to offer community-based options. Additionally, it requires states to address the need for affordable housing. ADAPT and other advocates held a briefing on the day of introduction.
On December 7, President Trump nominated William P. Barr as Attorney General. Barr previously served as Attorney General from 1991 to 1993. The Attorney General is a cabinet level position in charge of the Department of Justice, which is responsible for law enforcement efforts and is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that will greatly expand the what is known as the “public charge” test. The public charge test allows for denying entry to or permanent residency in the United States based upon the likelihood an individual will need government benefits. Currently, the only benefits considered are cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), comparable state and local programs, and institutional long-term care (including through Medicaid). Under the proposed rule, an individual could be considered a public charge for using or applying for a broader range of benefits including most Medicaid programs, housing assistance, or food assistance. The Arc opposes the proposed rule because it will result in discrimination against legal immigrants with disabilities. Read The Arc’s full statement here.
On October 6, the Senate approved the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court by a vote of 50 to 48. Read The Arc’s statement on Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment here.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary held a four-day hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. The first three days involved questioning on Judge Kavanaugh himself. The fourth day involved additional witnesses, including Elizabeth Weintraub, Advocacy Specialist at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and Jackson Corbin, a 13-year-old with Noonan Syndrome. Ms. Weintraub testified about the importance of self-determination to her as a woman with intellectual disability and Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling in Doe Tarlow v. District of Columbia, in which he concluded that people with intellectual disability who have “never been competent” do not have a right to even have their wishes heard or considered in medical decisions (see and share video of her testimony). Jackson’s testimony related to the importance of the Affordable Care Act to his mother, his brother, and himself, all of whom have Noonan Syndrome, which comes with multiple pre-existing conditions. Visit the Committee web site (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4) for more information or to view archived video of the hearing. The Arc opposes Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.