Last week the House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee held a hearing on the use of technology to improve the administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The Arc’s Marty Ford testified on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Social Security Task Force. Her testimony emphasized the importance of using technology in ways that simplify the SSI program and make it easier for people to apply for benefits, navigate the redetermination process, and report on income and assets. Her testimony notes that technology can pose challenges for some people with disabilities, making it important for the Social Security Administration to continue to provide information in writing and in other accessible ways. Finally, her testimony calls for other improvements to SSI including increasing the income and asset limits. Visit the Committee web site to read all the witnesses’ testimony and for archived video.
The House Committee on Ways and Means, Human Resources Subcommittee has rescheduled its hearing on the use of technology to improve the administration of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program’s financial eligibility requirements for Wednesday, July 25th at 2:00 PM EDT. The Arc’s Marty Ford will testify on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Social Security Task Force. Visit the Committee web site for more information and for live video the day of the hearing.
On May 8, the Brookings Institute and Princeton University hosted an event on “Children with Disabilities” and released the latest issue of The Future of Children—a journal focusing on research and practice on vital children’s issues—examining the increasing impact of childhood disability. The release event included an overview of the journal issue’s contents, findings from an accompanying policy brief, a keynote speech by Kenneth Apfel of the University of Maryland, and a panel discussion on the SSI program for children. The Arc’s Marty Ford participated in the panel and spoke about the importance of SSI benefits for low-income children with significant disabilities and their families. Audio and a transcript are available on the Brookings Institute web site.
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.
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.
On Wednesday, July 6th, four families will join The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns and Public Policy Director Marty Ford in a meeting with key staff at the White House on Medicaid. The purpose of the meeting is for the White House to hear how Medicaid cuts would affect each family’s circumstances as President Obama continues to engage in deficit reduction talks.
The Urban Institute held a panel presentation on the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program and what can be done to “fix” it. The CLASS Act was passed as part of the health care reform act to establish a voluntary long term services insurance plan to assist people to meet their needs without impoverishing themselves to qualify for Medicaid. Marty Ford of the DPC was a member of the 6-person Urban Institute panel. Ms. Ford made the point that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has been given the responsibility to develop a plan that is actuarially sound and that the Secretary should be given the time and resources she needs to develop the plan which will be offered to the public. A similar message was delivered by Rhonda Richards representing AARP. For more information, including the archived webcast, see http://www.urban.org/events/How-to-Fix-the-Class-Act.cfm
On March 9, the DPC’s Marty Ford testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies in her capacity as Co-Chair of the Social Security Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). She testified on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the impact of possible cuts to the Fiscal Year 2011 budget on the agency’s administrative resources with which to process claims for people with disabilities and seniors. In describing the impact of the House-passed continuing resolution (CR) for the remainder of FY 2011, she stated, “If SSA is forced to furlough employees to address the full $430 million shortfall from the current CR spending level, it will result in nearly a month of furloughs, having devastating effects on service to the American public. In one month of furloughs, SSA would complete 400,000 fewer retirement, survivor, and Medicare claims; 290,000 fewer initial disability claims (with processing time increasing by a month); 70,000 fewer hearings; and 32,000 fewer continuing disability reviews. In addition, H.R. 1 severely cuts funds for vital information technology (IT) improvements and funds to build the critical new National Computer Center, which must be built to protect Social Security electronic information and infrastructure.” Read her full testimony at http://appropriations.senate.gov/ht-labor.cfm?method=hearings.download&id=f7b3c5f6-ec78-4299-bf55-af8e7ee780d7
The Senate Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 9. The hearing is expected to address the impact that the House and Senate’s separate FY 2011 continuing resolutions and the President’s FY 2012 Budget Request would have on people applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The DPC’s Marty Ford has been invited to testify.