Medicaid – Judge Blocks KY Medicaid Waiver Request

On June 29, a federal judge ruled that Kentucky’s proposed waiver, which included work requirements, monthly premiums, lockouts for non-payment, limits on retroactive eligibility and non-emergency medical transportation, and penalties for non-emergency use of emergency rooms was arbitrary and capricious. The judge ruled that the waiver was invalid because the Department of Health and Human Services did not take into account the primary objective of the Medicaid statute: “to furnish medical assistance.” However, the ruling did leave open the possibility that a waiver including work requirements might pass legal muster if its impact is more carefully considered. The Arc is very concerned about potential barriers to health care created by work requirements and other policies.

Miscellaneous News – White House Releases Major Government Restructuring Proposal

Last week, the White House announced a proposal to make major changes to the structure of government agencies. The most prominent change proposed is the merger of the Departments of Education and Labor. Additionally, the proposal moves non-commodity nutrition assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which would be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare. If legislation is introduced to make these changes, The Arc will assess the impact on programs critical to people with disabilities.

Housing – House Committee to Hold Hearing on Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation

On June 26, the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Government’s Approach to Lead-Based Paint and Mold Remediation in Public and Subsidized Housing.” The hearing will examine how HUD remedies unsafe living conditions. Exposure to high levels of lead increases the risk for learning and developmental disabilities in children. This hearing follows the release of two reports last week: the Government Accountability Office, “Lead Paint in Housing: HUD Should Strengthen Grant Processes, Compliance Monitoring, and Performance Assessment” and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of the Inspector General, “HUD Lacked Adequate Oversight of Lead-Based Paint Reporting and Remediation in Its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher Programs“. Visit the Committee web site for more information.

Budget & Appropriations – Rescissions Packages Defeated in Senate

On June 20, the Senate failed to pass a rescissions package (H.R.3) by a vote of 48-50. This package would rescind $15.3 billion in appropriated funds, nearly half of which come from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The decision to rescind funding from CHIP could have destabilized the program and limited a state’s ability to respond to issues such as natural disaster, large layoffs due to plant closures, or an overall economic slowdown.

Budget & Appropriations – House Budget Committee Approves FY 2019 Budget Resolution

On June 21, the House Budget Committee approved a Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Budget Resolution. The budget calls for $6 trillion in cuts over a decade, which include Medicaid per capita caps and block grants, Medicare privatization, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The budget resolution contains “reconciliation instructions” that direct eleven committees to come up with at least $302 billion in savings over ten years. This target includes at least $20 billion from the Energy and Commerce Committee and $150 billion from the Ways and Means Committee, which have jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. A “reconciliation bill” that outlines how these cuts would be made would require only a simple majority (51) to pass in the Senate. The Senate Budget Committee may write its own FY 2019 Budget Resolution and it is unclear whether the full House will vote on this budget resolution. See The Arc’s statement on the Budget Committee’s passage of the measure here.

Income Support – House Passes Farm Bill with Cuts to Basic Food Assistance

On June 21, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 213-211 the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R.2, also known as the “Farm Bill”). The bill reauthorizes farm programs and policy as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). If enacted, the House bill would make major cuts to basic food assistance under SNAP. The Arc has strongly opposed the House bill. In contrast, the Senate Agriculture Committee recently marked up its own bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Farm Bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S.3042), which protects SNAP. Read The Arc’s statement on passage of the House Farm Bill.

Medicaid/Rights – House Passes Bill to Delay EVV Implementation

On June 19, the House of Representatives passed H.R.6042 by voice vote. This bill delays implementation of the Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act by one year, until January 2020. The bill also expresses the sense of Congress that CMS should hold at least one public meeting and solicit ongoing stakeholder input on its recently-issued guidance. Learn more about this newly-passed bill here.

Rights – June 22 Marks 19th Anniversary of Olmstead Decision

June 22 will be the 19th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Olmstead v. LC. The case involved Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, two women intellectual disability and psychiatric disabilities who were living at the Georgia state psychiatric hospital. Despite clinical assessments determining that a community setting would be appropriate, the state of Georgia refused to allow them to receive services outside of the institution. The Court ruled that placement in an institutional setting against one’s will against clinical recommendations violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Immigration/Rights – The Arc Condemns Family Separations and Calls on Congress to Act

Recently, the Administration announced a change in immigration policy that has resulted in children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. Historically, crossing the border illegally was considered a civil offense and parents were able to stay with their children while legal proceedings were carried out (for example, to determine whether the family qualified for asylum). Under the new policy, crossing the border illegally is considered a criminal offense. Children are not allowed to stay with their parents while criminal proceedings are carried out because adult detention facilities cannot ensure child safety. Last Friday The Arc released a statement regarding the forced immigrant family separations that are occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border. “The Arc stands with the immigrant community and the many organizations and individuals that have come out in opposition to this abhorrent practice,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “The notion of uniformed, federal border protection agents forcibly separating parents from their children is outrageous.” Read The Arc’s full statement here.