Disability data at risk as House votes to eliminate the American Community Survey

The House approved the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations bill earlier this month which included amendments to eliminate funding for the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) and to make the survey voluntary.   The ACS provides vital economic, social, and housing data on many of our counties, cities, Congressional districts, towns, and communities that are not provided anywhere else.  The ACS is particularly critical to the disability community because it was the first reliable measure of disability in the general population.  The ACS replaced the long form used in the decennial census.  The loss of this survey would be devastating to the national data collected about people with disabilities. This data is critical to gathering a clearer picture of the lives of individuals with disabilities and measuring our success at achieving integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in mainstream society.  It is unclear if the Senate will consider its version of the bill before the Memorial Day recess or after.  The Arc is joining with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to urge the Senate to fully fund the ACS.

Implementation of key aspects of the Affordable Care Act

The Arc joined with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to submit comments on two regulations implementing key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The regulations pertain to how states are to establish the private health insurance markets known as the health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses, in addition to implementing changes in Medicaid eligibility required by the ACA. The CCD comments focused on recommendations for strengthening coordination between Medicaid and the exchanges.  The comments are posted on the CCD website.

Assistive technology for people with disabilities

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing last week concerning accessible technology for people with disabilities.  The Arc, as a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), submitted testimony for the record.  Given the ubiquitous nature of technology in today’s world, ensuring access for people with all types of disabilities is more urgent than ever.

The Arc joins CCD in offering comments on the Affordable Care Act

The Arc joined with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to comment on three important proposed regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). One proposed rule implements changes to Medicaid eligibility as a result of the ACA. CCD expressed concerns about how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) interpreted the law and raised issues with the impact on people with disabilities if CMS did not revise its interpretation. In the second rule CCD commented on how the health insurance exchanges should be designed. The last rule was about reinsurance programs and risk adjustment provisions that are designed to remove financial disincentives for private health plans to cover people with disabilities and chronic conditions starting in 2014.

Affordable Care Act Report from The Institute of Medicine

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its report on Friday regarding policies to establish the essential benefits package under the Affordable Care Act.  The report “Essential Health Benefits: Balancing Coverage and Cost” is intended to advise HHS on the critical issue in advance of HHS developing regulations.  Marty Ford had testified on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities during the IOM’s deliberations.  Her comments focused on the importance of including habilitation services and devices as an essential benefit and we are pleased that the IOM specifically recommended that habilitation services be a part of the package.  The ACA requires that all health plans cover ten categories of benefits, including “rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices.” However, the ACA did not define these key terms.  The IOM report makes recommendations on how HHS should approach these issues but was not asked to recommend a specific list of covered benefits.  HHS is planning to seek public input on this issue in advance of publishing proposed rules.  The Arc will be reviewing the IOM report and will provide additional input to HHS on this important issue for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Secretary Announces Key Regulations

Today, Health and Humans Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of proposed regulations that will govern how states are to set up and run new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for health insurance. The Arc and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities had provided comments to HHS about several issues important to the disability community including accessibility, interaction with Medicaid, ensuring fair insurance rules and other issues and will also comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking.

Webinar Recordings Now Available

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities has posted recordings and slides from two recent webinars on Social Security, featuring The Arc’s Marty Ford and other presenters. “Social Security 101” explains the basics of the social insurance safety net that is created by the Social Security retirement, disability, and survivors programs. “Current Social Security Reform Proposals: How They Would Affect People with Disabilities” explains the specific reforms that have been proposed by organizations and commissions, and their impact on people with disabilities, the elderly, and families who rely on the Social Security safety net.

New Report Highlights Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities

The Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities today released Priced Out in 2010: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities. The report provides state and local housing market data highlighting the nation’s housing crisis for people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The report provides an invaluable tool for state and local advocates to educate policymakers, media, and the public about the urgent need for affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities. Visit the TAC website to download a copy of the full report.

Opportunity for Advocates: Upcoming Report on Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities

On June 20th, the Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities will release Priced Out in 2010: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities. The report provides state and local housing market data highlighting the nation’s housing crisis for people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). State and local advocates who are working on housing policy are encouraged to consider doing outreach to local media and policymakers in advance of the report.  For more information, including a sample press release and fact sheet, contact Gina Schaak at gschaak@tacinc.org.

Opportunity for Advocates: Upcoming Report on Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities

On June 20th, the Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities will release Priced Out in 2010: The Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities. The report provides state and local housing market data highlighting the nation’s housing crisis for people receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For example, in 2010 average rents for one bedroom apartments had increased more than 60% since 1998, and exceeded 112% of the average SSI benefit. State and local advocates who are working on housing policy are encouraged to consider doing outreach to local media and policymakers in advance of the report.  For more information, including a sample press release and fact sheet, contact Gina Schaak at gschaak@tacinc.org.