Disability Policy News In Brief

March 19, 2018

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March 19, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 153
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Budget & Appropriations

Congress is expected to pass an FY18 omnibus spending package before the current continuing resolution expires next Friday, March 23rd. AUCD expects to see the omnibus, which will fund the government through Sept. 30, this week. This is likely to be Congress' last major bill before the 2018 mid-term elections, we're watching to see which riders make it in. At the same time the appropriations process for FY19 is also underway. 

Action Step:  Please continue to educate your Members of Congress on the value of LENDs and UCEDDs. When able please share the ask for funding level for FY19.

Health Spending

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) may propose a new ACA Marketplace stabilization bill which could also be included in the omnibus spending package. The new version of the bill would include funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, reinsurance funding, additional flexibility for states under Section 1332 waivers, and expanded eligibility for catastrophic plans. In addition to uncertainty about whether this proposal would actually lower premiums because of adjustments made after the Administration discontinued CSR funding, the bill is also controversial because of an additional requirement that federal funds could not be used for plans that cover abortion services. Other marketplace proposals that have been put forward would allow insurers to charge older adults up to five times as much as younger adults (a.k.a. an "age tax"), allowing short-term health insurance plans to be renewed, and expanding health savings accounts (please see February edition of In Brief for more information).

Health Care

Money Follows the Person

Two bipartisan bills that would improve access to healthcare and community living for people with disabilities have been introduced in both the House and the Senate and could be included in the spending package next week. The EMPOWER Care Act (S.2227) and its, recently introduced, House companion bill (H.R. 5306) would extend the Medicaid Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program and people with disabilities transition from institutions back to their communities. Please continue to educate your Members of Congress on the importance of MFP. AUCD created an MFP toolkit with talking points, pre-crafted email (that can be personalized, tweets, and more to assist advocate.

Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans

Section 50311(b) of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law No. 115-123) created a new Section of the Social Security Act in order to increase integration of Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs). In particular, the statute directs Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to: 1) develop unified grievance and appeals processes for D-SNPs; and 2) establish new standards for integration of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for D-SNPs. CMS is requesting public comments, through April 12, to help inform next steps related to unified D-SNP grievance and appeals processes and new integration standards. Please submit comments, with the subject line "Comments on Section 50311," to [email protected] .

Quality Measures Report

The 2018 National Impact Assessment of CMS Quality Measures Report is now available. This report serves to identify ways to reduced expenditures and improve upon the quality of care provided to patients in facilities and across settings nationwide.  This report is used by the measure developer community, patients and families, clinicians, providers, federal partners, and researchers. 


Tomorrow, March 20, the subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing on "Expanding Affordable Health Care Options: Examining the Department of Labor's Proposed Rule on Association Health Plans."

ADA Education and Reform Act

The ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), passed out of the House on February 16, by a vote of 225-192.  AUCD is very concerned with how this bill would impact people with disabilities and the efforts to ensure communities are inclusive and accessible. 

Action Step: Continue to contact both your Senators and share the critical importance of the ADA and ask for their public support to co-sign Tammy Duckworth's letter. Also see additional back ground/resources:


On March 22, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will meet to conduct a hearing entitled, "Oversight of HUD." The witness will be Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Live webcast is available here.

Home and Community Based Services

The National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative announced the HCBS Business Acumen Resource Center's new website, HCBSBusinessAcumen.org. The HCBS Business Acumen Center is a resource center for community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve individuals with disabilities. The resource center provides tools, resources and examples of promising practices that promote the sustainability of disability-focused CBOs.

2018 Disability Policy Seminar

Please remember to register for the Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) and the  AUCD Trainee Summit, which takes place on Sunday, April 22! DPS is a great opportunity to learn about disability policy, advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, advocate for access to health care, community living supports and civil rights, share your story with Members of Congress, and more. Remember to schedule meetings with your Senators and Representatives before you come to DC (tips sheets on how to do this will be shared soon).

Also, please remember to register for the Trainee Orientation webinar taking place on April 2nd at 3:3opm EST, which will highlight what you can expect, how you should prepare, an opportunity to ask questions, and more!

Disaster Response - US Territories

On March 19, Kaiser Family Foundation hosted a briefing "Health Care in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands: A Six-Month Check-Up After the Storms". Speakers included: Joshua Barnes, Acting Director of Recovery, Rafael Rodríguez-Mercado, Secretary of Health for Puerto Rico, Ivonne Rivera-Hernández, Executive Director of HealthproMed, Bernard A. Wheatley, Chief Executive Officer of the Schneider Regional Medical Center, and Representative Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands), who provided remarks on Medicaid caps and other health care issues in the US territories. Archived recording is available here.

Also see Representative Plaskett's legislation Improving the Treatment of the U.S. Territories Under Federal Health Programs Act of 2017 (HR 2404).

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

The Tuesdays with Liz series is taking a break while Liz Weintraub is on detail working with the Senate Aging Committee. Tuesdays with Liz will return to a regular taping schedule and new episodes will air in the late Spring when Liz returns to AUCD. Until then, we will be highlighting some of our favorite Tuesdays with Liz episodes from this past year here and on social media at @AUCDnews.

This week we are taking a look back at Liz's interview with Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, who discussed the mission of the organization and the importance of including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in sports.


For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 

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