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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On February 28, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Medicare for All Act of 2019, 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 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.
On February 28, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced bills (H.R.1434 and S.634) to provide a 100% federal tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships for private schools. The Arc opposes this bill because schools accepting scholarships indirectly supported by the tax credit are not required to follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or the accountability provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act. See The Arc’s position statement on education, including school choice.
On January 29, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced two bills related to employment for people with disabilities. The first bill, the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act (S.260), will phase out 14(c) subminimum wage certificates over six years and provides grants for technical assistance and provider transformation.
The second, the Disability Employment Incentives Act (S.255), increases three tax credits for employers. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides incentives for businesses that hire people referred by vocational rehabilitation, or who are on Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, would be increased from $2,400 to $5,000. The Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit will be increased from $5,000 to $10,000. The Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit will be increased from $15,000 to $30,000.
On February 7, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support (CARES) Act of 2019 (S.427, H.R.1058). The Autism CARES Act funds autism research, surveillance, and education programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).