Housing: HUD Proposes Ban on Housing Assistance for Mixed Status Families

On May 10, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule that would prohibit “mixed status” immigrant families from living in public housing and Section 8 units. “Mixed status” families are families in which some members are ineligible for housing assistance based on immigration status. The rule would result in family separations and could lead to evictions of thousands of people, including children, who face an increased risk of homelessness. The Arc is working with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to submit comments on the proposed rule by the July 9 deadline. For more information, see www.keep-families-together.org.

Health/Rights: HHS Proposes Weakening Health Care Anti-Discrimination Rule

On May 24, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an advance copy of a proposed rule to weaken its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The proposed rule would narrow protections for all people experiencing discrimination under the law, eliminate protections for LGBTQ people, and roll back protections for people with limited English proficiency, among other impacts. The Arc is reviewing the proposed rule and will provide further analysis.

Immigration/Rights – DHS Issues Proposed Rule Limiting Immigration

On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that will greatly expand the what is known as the “public charge” test. The public charge test allows for denying entry to or permanent residency in the United States based upon the likelihood an individual will need government benefits. Currently, the only benefits considered are cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), comparable state and local programs, and institutional long-term care (including through Medicaid). Under the proposed rule, an individual could be considered a public charge for using or applying for a broader range of benefits including most Medicaid programs, housing assistance, or food assistance. The Arc opposes the proposed rule because it will result in discrimination against legal immigrants with disabilities. Read The Arc’s full statement here.

Transportation – DOT Announces Changes in Services Animal Enforcement Priorities and Regulations

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has released an Interim Statement of Enforcement Office Priorities and Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding regulations of service animals under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). DOT will now prioritize enforcement cases involving dogs, cats, and miniature horses over cases involving other animals. Additional priorities include the general prohibition on advance notice; a requirement that identification cards, other written documentation, presence of a harness, tags, or the credible verbal assurance of a passenger be accepted as proof of that an animal is a service animal; and the prohibition on requiring passengers with service animal to check-in at the counter.

DOT is seeking public comment to help ensure that individuals with disabilities can continue using their service animals while also helping to ensure that the fraudulent use of other animals not qualified as service animals is deterred and animals that are not trained to behave properly in public are not accepted for transport as service animals. The ANPRM contains ten questions covering topics such as psychiatric service and emotional support animals, the number of animals allowed per passenger, leash and harness requirements, and allowable documentation requirements. Public comment on the ANPRM is due by June 9. Click here to comment.

Department of Labor Publishes Proposed Rules on Overtime Pay Protections

Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the regulations defining who is entitled to overtime pay protections.   The rules have not been updated since 2004. The primary change is to raise the standard salary level to 40th percentile of weekly earning for full-time salaried workers ($47,892). The salary level is one of the three tests to determine if a person’s job is exempt from overtime protection. The other two tests involve being paid a salary and having job duties that primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional functions.   For more information about the rule visit the DOL website.

Managed Care Regulations released

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking toward modernization of the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) managed care regulations and to update the programs’ rules and strengthen beneficiary services.  For more information, including summaries of key provisions of the proposed rule, visit medicaid.gov. Staff from The Arc will be reviewing the regulations and providing comments. The deadline to submit comments is July 27, 2015.

Department of Justice Releases A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Amend the Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations

The US Department of Justice released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the changes made by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. The NPRM makes changes to Titles II and III ADA regulations to amend the definition of disability which was broadened by the ADAAA and expand the definition of major life activities by including major bodily functions.  The NPRM includes examples of impairments, such as intellectual disability, that should easily be found to substantially limit a major life activity and cause the necessary individualized assessment of the impairments to be simple and straightforward.    The Title I ADA regulations were amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2011.  The NPRM will align the definitions in Titles II and III with those in Title I.  The NPRM is open for comment for 60 days until March 31, 2014.

The Department of Education Has Issued Proposed Rulemaking on Academic Achievement Standards

The Department of Education issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on August 23, 2013 concerning the “2% rule.” Comments about the NPRM are due October 7. The proposed rule would overturn a rule from 2007 which permitted states to define modified academic achievement standards for some students with disabilities, develop alternate assessments based on those standards, and use up to 2% of those the scores for school accountability purposes. Since 2007, much work has been done to create assessments that are more accessible to students with disabilities so that their progress toward meeting college and career ready standards can be accurately measured. Two federally funded consortia are designing new assessments that accommodate a broad range of learners and use the principles of Universal Design of Learning. The two consortia are: Smarter Balanced Assessments and the PARCC Assessments.

“…research has shown that low-achieving students with disabilities make academic progress when provided with appropriate supports and instruction. More accessible general assessments, in combination with such supports and instruction for students with disabilities, can promote high expectations for all students, including students with disabilities, by encouraging teaching and learning to the academic achievement standards measured by the general assessments,” NPRM p. 52468.

States would still be permitted to define alternate academic achievement standards and administer alternate assessments to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities – up to 1% of all students.

HUD Issued Proposed Regulation on Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a long-anticipated proposed regulation under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH). The proposed rule does not create any new obligations, but instead seeks to provide clearer guidance and tools to help entities understand and carry out their AFFH obligations. AFFH refers to the Fair Housing Act’s obligation for state and local governments to improve and achieve more meaningful outcomes from fair housing policies, so that every American has the right to fair housing, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. As stated in HUD’s press release, “Under the proposed new rule, HUD will provide program participants with: A more clearly articulated definition of what it means to affirmatively further fair housing; An assessment template that replaces the current, loosely defined Analysis of Impediments; Nationally uniform data and a geospatial tool; and Clear guidance and technical assistance.” In addition to the proposed rule, HUD has made available made available background materials and a prototype geospatial tool.

Proposed regulations regarding The Affordable Care Act

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a number of proposed regulations and guidance regarding the Affordable Care Act.  The regulations address the essential health benefits that must be included in the health insurance plans sold in the private state exchange insurance market place.  The Arc is very concerned about the lack of definition of habilitation in the proposed rule and will carefully review the regulations.

HHS also released proposed rules on the health insurance market reforms that will take effect in 2014.  The reforms include guaranteed availability of coverage, fair health insurance premiums, and guaranteed renewability of coverage.  Comments on these critical rules are due December 26, 2012.