Health/LTSS: Representatives Introduce Medicare for America Act

On May 1, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and 14 other co-sponsors introduced the Medicare for America Act (H.R.2452). The bill expands Medicare to cover all persons not covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. Additionally, it expands Medicare’s benefit package to include long term services and supports (LTSS), among other things. The Arc supports including provisions to cover LTSS in any comprehensive health reform proposal.

Health: Bill Declaring People With Developmental Disabilities (DD) a Medically Underserved Population Introduced in the House

On May 1, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the Healthcare Extension and Accessibility for Developmentally Disabled and Underserved Population (HEADs UP) Act of 2019 (H.R. 2417). This bill would declare people with DD a medically underserved population (MUP). People with DD face a shortage of primary care providers, as well as higher infant mortality rates, higher poverty rates, and shorter life expectancy than the general population. The MUP designation comes with increased access to resources from 25 different government programs, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Community Health Centers, loan repayment and training programs under Health Resources and Services Administration Workforce Development and Training Programs, and preference in research within agencies such as the National Institutes of Health. The Arc supports this bill.

Education: Bill Introduced to Fully Fund Title I and IDEA

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Susie Lee (D-NV), along with 11 original Senate co-sponsors and 16 original House co-sponsors, introduced the Keep Our Promise to America’s Children and Teachers (PACT) Act (S.1172/H.R.2315). This bill gradually increases funding for Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and special education (Part B, the State Grant Program) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) until both are funded at authorization levels. Title I of the ESEA provides funding to school districts with high percentages of low income children. The Arc supports the Keep Our PACT Act.

Health/LTSS: Medicare for All Plan With LTSS Coverage Introduced in the Senate

On April 10, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 14 other Senators introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (S.1129) 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 home and community-based 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.

Correction: The original title of this article inaccurately stated that this bill was introduced in the House. The Arc regrets this error.

Family Support: Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Introduced in the House and Senate

On April 2, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019 (S.995, H.R.2035). This bipartisan bill reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Program through fiscal year 2024. The Lifespan Respite Care Program, through grants to states, helps build coordinated state lifespan respite systems, helps family caregivers pay for respite or find funding sources, encourages development of new and innovative community and faith based respite opportunities, and trains respite workers and volunteers. The Arc supports this legislation.

Tax Policy: ABLE Age Adjustment Act Reintroduced in House

On March 18, Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Michael Turner (R-OH), Max Rose (D-NY), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) reintroduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act (H.R.1814). 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. Its companion bill, S.651, was introduced in the Senate on March 5. The Arc supports the ABLE Age Adjustment Act.

Education: Military Education Savings Account Bill Introduced

On March 7, Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the Education Savings Accounts for Military Families Act of 2019 (S.695). This bill would create “Military Education Savings Accounts” that parents serving in the military could use for private school or other education expenses for their children. The Arc opposes this bill because it directs public funds to private schools that are not required to follow the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. View The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.

Transportation: Air Carrier Access Amendments Act Reintroduced

On March 6, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative James Langevin (D-RI) reintroduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (S.669, H.R.1549). This bill improves accessibility of air travel for people with disabilities by creating a private right of action for violations, requiring new airplanes to meet minimum accessibility standards, and requiring removal of access barriers on existing planes where feasible. The Arc supports this legislation.

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.

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.