Last week, the House both passed the Improving Medicaid Programs and Opportunities for Eligible Beneficiaries (IMPROVE) Act (H.R.7217). This bill includes reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program for three months. MFP provides grants to states to transition people from institutions to community-based settings. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this program has helped over 63,000 people transition into the community and has saved Medicare and Medicaid almost $1 billion as of 2013. The Arc strongly supports reauthorization of MFP. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for Home and Community Based Services beneficiaries for three months. The spousal impoverishment protection allows the spouse of a Medicaid Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) beneficiary to maintain a modest amount of income and resources for food, rent, and medication.
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the IMPROVE Act extended MFP for three years and that it had passed both chambers.
In commemoration of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Census Bureau is releasing a “Facts for Features” report providing a demographic snapshot of the U.S. population with a disability and examining various services available to them. The demographic snapshot includes information about institutionalization, transportation, employment, accessibility, and other useful information.
Congress has returned with an agenda to wrap up business for the 114thCongress during the “lame duck” session and with Leadership plans to build the platform for reforms on key issues for the 115th Congress. In addition, the House and Senate will begin electing new Leadership for the 115thCongress this week.
Congress’ top priority in this session will be to keep most of the government funded beyond Dec. 9, when a 10-week continuing resolution (CR) expires. Given the election results, it is possible that fiscal year (FY) 2017 funding decisions will be pushed into some point next year, when Republicans will control both chambers of Congress and the White House. This would provide greater leverage for Republicans to cut non-defense discretionary spending (which funds many disability-related programs) and increase defense spending for the remainder of FY 2017. Eleven of the twelve FY 2017 spending bills have yet to be enacted (only Military Construction and Veterans Affairs programs received full-year funding). The House will take its first votes tonight, followed by the Senate tomorrow night. Congress is tentatively scheduled to work through Dec. 16, with one week off for Thanksgiving. Click here to see line item funding levels for priority disability programs for FY 2016.
Leadership could decide to extend the funding for another short period of months to give the new Trump Administration time to work with the Congress to make major changes to key programs such as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or the Medicaid program.
Major changes to the Affordable Care Act and the basic structure of the Medicaid program are high priorities of the incoming Trump Administration and the House and Senate Republican Majorities. Democratic leaders have already engaged in discussions with President-elect Trump and others to determine where there may be common ground. Much remains to be seen.
Last week, the House and Senate wrapped up legislative business and adjourned. They are expected to return on November 14 to complete the budget process and, depending on the outcomes of the election, may tackle other issues.
In conjunction with the Leadership Institute for Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence, the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence is now seeking applicants for its second Leadership Academy. Scheduled for June 13-16, 2016 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this four day, in-person learning opportunity empowers leaders within the disability community to effectively harness the diversity among people with disabilities. The application deadline is February 7, 2016. To learn more about this event and apply, please do so here.
Last week, President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. We invite you to check out The Arc blog to review five highlights that are of significance to people with I/DD.