Health/Rights: HHS Proposes Weakening Health Care Anti-Discrimination Rule

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.

Rights: Senate Committee Approves Nominee for Attorney General

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.

Rights/LTSS: Disability Integration Act Reintroduced

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.

Rights – President Nominates William Barr for Attorney General

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.

Immigration/Rights – DHS Issues Proposed Rule Limiting Immigration

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.

Rights – Senate Holds Hearing on Kavanaugh Nomination

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.

Rights – President Trump Issues Proclamation Commemorating ADA Anniversary

On July 25, President Trump issued a proclamation commemorating the 28th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is the primary civil rights law for people with disabilities. It passed Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Read the statement here.

Medicaid/Rights – Senate Passes Delay of EVV Requirement

On July 17, the Senate approved H.R.6042 without amendment by unanimous consent. This bill delays by one year electronic visit verification (EVV) requirements for tracking when personal care services are provided to people with disabilities. The bill also expresses the sense of Congress that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should hold at least one public meeting and solicit ongoing stakeholder input on its recently-issued guidance. The House of Representatives passed this bill last month. The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature. The Arc applauds passage of this bill which gives advocates more time to work with CMS and state Medicaid agencies to ensure EVV is implemented in a way that doesn’t place an undue burden on providers and protects the privacy of beneficiaries.