Miscellaneous – The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy Receives Award

Marty Ford, The Arc’s Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, received the “Policy Award” from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) in honor of her advocacy for people with I/DD throughout her career. The award will be given at AAIDD’s convention in June. Learn more about AAIDD’s award recipients here.

Health Care/Medicaid – Senate Finance Committee to Hold Hearing on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson; Full Senate Vote May Occur This Week

Today, September 25, at 2:00 PM EDT, the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing to consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Proposal. Witnesses will include: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA); former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA); Dennis G. Smith, Senior Advisory for Medicaid and Health Care Reform, Arkansas Department of Human Services; Teresa Miller, Acting Secretary, Department of Human Services, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Cindy Mann, Former Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, United States Department of Health and Human Services; and Dick Woodruff, Senior Vice President, Federal Advocacy, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The is the first hearing on the legislation. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access the hearing live today. Read The Arc’s written testimony here.

While the Congressional Budget Office announced it will not have time to analyze the health care coverage impact of the bill before the September 30 deadline, it is expected to release a report this week on the fiscal implications of the bill. Avalere released an analysis showing that there will be a total reduction of $215 billion between 2020 and 2026 compared to current law with all but 16 states seeing funding reduced. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates there will be a reduction of $160 billion compared to current law with all but 15 states losing funding. Overtime the overall cuts to the Medicaid program would total over $4 trillion through 2036. Cuts to the traditional Medicaid program would be more than $1 trillion over two decades.

The Senate has until September 30 to pass the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill with a simple majority vote. After that date, the legislation will require 60 votes to pass, unless Congress passes a budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 that contains reconciliation instructions intended to address health care. Last week, Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) said that he intended to have a Senate vote this week. The vote is expected to be very close. If successful, expectations are that the bill would go immediately to the House floor for passage and then to the President for signature. This would be a devastating blow to people with disabilities and their families who have worked so hard this year to prevent block grants and per capita caps from destroying the Medicaid program – a program which provides basic health care and long term supports which make it possible for millions of people to live as independently as possible in their communities. The Washington Post printed a letter to the editor from The Arc’s Marty Ford expressing these concerns.

Health Care/Medicaid – The Arc Continues Advocacy to Preserve Medicaid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to seek Senate passage of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), which passed the House of Representatives in May. News reports continue to indicate that the Senate may vote on the bill as soon as the end of June. While the Majority Leader has not released proposed Senate changes to the bill, reports continue to indicate that Medicaid per capita caps will remain in the bill, jeopardizing the availability of Medicaid home and community-based services for people with I/DD.

The Arc is continuing its efforts to preserve health care and long-term services and supports under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. On June 16, The Arc hosted a Facebook Live briefing (part 1part 2) with Nicole Jorwic, Director of Rights Policy. On June 19, The Arc co-hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill on “Understanding the Devastating Impact of Medicaid Per Capita Caps on People with Disabilities” with Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, as a panelist. Additionally, The Arc released a fact sheetdetailing Medicaid’s optional and waiver services that are at risk if per capita caps are enacted.

The ABLE National Resource Center Presents a FREE Webinar: Understanding ABLE

In collaboration with The Arc, National Disability Institute, Autism Speaks, National Down Syndrome Society, and the College Plan Savings Network, The ABLE National Resource Center will host a webinar titled “Understanding ABLE” on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 2 PM EDT. The event will cover ABLE Act core components, as well as the status of implementation at both the federal and state levels. Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer for Public Policy, The Arc is one of the featured speakers. Registration for this important event is now open and will be taken on a first come, first serve basis, Should you wish to join us, please sign up online.

Please note: Real time captioning will be provided for this webinar. For other accommodation requests, questions about the webinar, or the registration process, please contact James Thayer.

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities

Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on “Overcoming Persistent Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency for People with Disabilities.” In a statement, The Arc’s Marty Ford said: “Today a legend in the disability community held what is likely his final Senate Committee hearing on disability issues, advocating for individuals with disabilities until the very end of his final term in Congress. Senator Harkin has been a longtime advocate for individuals with disabilities, supporting or spearheading all major disability legislation in the last 40 years. His final hearing focused on poverty, a huge problem facing many individuals with disabilities. This hearing, like so many before, highlighted one of the key issues facing people with disabilities, and challenged legislators to look for solutions. Senator Harkin is a hero to The Arc and our advocates across the country, and his legacy will live on. We thank him for his years of service, and friendship to our community.” Read more on The Arc’s blog.

AAIDD Special Issue Journal on Classification and Naming of “Intellectual Disability”

The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) has published a special issue of its journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The special issue focuses on perspectives from the AAIDD community on the current and proposed conventions for classification and naming of intellectual disability (ID). The Arc’s Marty Ford, Annie Acosta, and T.J. Sutcliffe contributed an article, “Beyond Terminology: The Policy Impact of a Grassroots Movement.” The special issue includes a summary of AAIDD’s proposed recommendations for the World Health Organization as it revises its International Classification of Diseases.

The Arc Opposes Benefit Cuts in the Washington Post

The Washington Post printed a letter by The Arc’s Marty Ford voicing our concern that using the “chained CPI” to calculate Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) would be a less accurate measure of inflation and a harmful benefit cut.

SSA Announces 35 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions; The Arc’s Marty Ford Honored

Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the expansion of the list of conditions that qualify under SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program for expedited disability claims processing. SSA has added 35 new Compassionate Allowance conditions, bringing the total number of conditions to 200. At an event on Capitol Hill announcing this expansion, The Arc’s Marty Ford was also presented with an award recognizing her longstanding leadership and commitment to the Social Security disability programs.

SSI’s 40th Anniversary Highlights Importance for People with Disabilities

October 30th marked the 40th anniversary of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI provides vital monthly income support to low-income children and adults with significant disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Benefits help people with disabilities live in the community and pay for necessities such as housing, clothing, and medicine. Learn more about the importance of SSI on The Arc’s blog and in a Huffington Post column by the Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and about threats to the program in a New York Times letter to the editor by The Arc’s Marty Ford.

The Arc’s Marty Ford testifies at hearing on securing the future of SSDI

The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held the fifth hearing in a series on securing the future of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The hearing looked at options to address the key structural and fiscal challenges facing the program. The Arc’s Marty Ford testified on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force. Her testimony emphasized the vital importance of SSDI for people with significant disabilities and recommended a variety of ways to strengthen SSDI to enhance opportunities and outcomes, and to secure its financial future. Visit the Committee web site for written testimony and video from the hearing.