On January 25, President Trump announced a deal to re-open the government until February 15 with the expectation that negotiations on a longer term deal would occur during that time. The Senate and the House of Representatives both passed a three-week continuing resolution, which was signed by President Trump. The Arc welcomes the restoration of funding for programs that are important to people with disabilities and hopes for prompt enactment of funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2019.
On January 24, 2019, the President signed into law H.R. 259, the “Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019,” which extends the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. The measure provides 3 months of funding for the MFP program, which states have until September 30, 2019 to spend. MFP 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. Additionally, the bill extends Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections for home and community-based services beneficiaries until March 31. 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. The Arc would like to thank advocates who contacted their Members of Congress on this important issue.
On September 28, President Trump signed into law a measure that funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) for fiscal year (FY) 2019 that begins on October 1. The measure also includes funding for the Department of Defense and a continuing resolution for other federal agencies until December 7. The package had been approved by the House on September 26. Most of The Arc’s priority programs were level funded or received slight increases and controversial policy riders have been removed. Additionally, $300,000 was added to fund the Caregiving Advisory Council established under the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and $5 million was added to fund Care Corps, a network of volunteer caregivers. Funding levels for The Arc’s priority programs can be found here.
Last week, the House and Senate passed, and the President signed, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) which reauthorizes federal career and technical education (CTE) programs. The law includes several disability community priorities such as including individuals with disabilities among the stakeholders who must be consulted in the development of the state plan; creating a new set aside for the recruitment of individuals with disabilities to CTE programs that lead to high-wage in-demand careers; including provisions around public reporting on student subgroups and special population performance by program of study; and expanding access and requirements for teacher professional development in universal design for learning and other research-based teaching methods. See the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force here.