Disability Policy News | November 20, 2023 | Vol. MMXXIII | Issue 81

November 20, 2023

 November 20, 2023 | Vol. MMXXIII | Issue 81

 

Budget and Appropriations

On November 16th, President Biden signed the continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 6363) avoiding a government shutdown for a second time. A CR continues last year’s funding at the prior levels while Congress works to complete the process for funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2024. The CR contains two different dates for when it expires. It expires for agencies covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD bills on January 19th, and expires for the other eight bills, including the Labor-Health-Human Services- Education- Related Agencies (LHHS) bill (H.R. 5894) on February 2nd. The House needed two-thirds of those present to pass the CR. It passed 336-95. The Senate followed and passed the CR 87-11. The CR did not contain emergency supplemental funding for Ukraine, Israel or other domestic priorities. Prior to recessing for Thanksgiving, the House of Representatives began work to finalize the LHHS bill, but did not complete the process or hold a floor vote on the bill prior to recessing.  

 

Plain Language

On November 16th, President Biden signed a continuing resolution, which continues current government funding until the beginning of 2024.  Congress is still working to pass all of the budget bills before the deadlines.  Some of the budget bills need to be passed by January 19th, and others need to be passed by February 2nd

 
 
 

Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers Act Introduced

On October 24th, Senator Markey (D-MA), Senator Capito (R-WV), Representative Kim (D-NJ-3), and Representative Burchett (R-TN-2) introduced the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers (ABC) Act (S. 3109 / H.R. 3060).  The bills will require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) “to review their eligibility, processes, procedures, forms, and communications to reduce the administrative burden on family caregivers.” The bills would also annually require CMS, SSA and CHIP to report to Congress about any issues they are facing and any next steps they are taking to support family caregivers.

 

Plain Language 

On October 24th, Senator Markey (D-MA), Senator Capito (R-WV), Representative Kim (D-NJ-3), and Representative Burchett (R-TN-2) introduced the Alleviating Barriers for Caregivers (ABC) Act (S. 3109 / H.R. 3060). This bill makes it easier for family members with disabilities to help other family members get federal benefits like Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, and more.

 

Action Steps

Read the bill text. Read the announcement from Senator Markey. Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of making the process of accessing federal benefits easier for family caregivers. You can reach your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 
 

Disaster Relief Medicaid Act Introduced

On October 24th, Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representative Panetta (D-CA-19) introduced the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (S. 3120 / H.R. 6029).  The bills ensure that persons eligible for Medicaid who are forced to relocate due to an emergency can continue to receive their services. A person with a disability that lives in an area covered under a presidential disaster declaration would be designated a Relief-Eligible Survivor, and this designation would allow them to continue to access their services if they are forced to relocate to another state as a result of the disaster. The bills would also help states meet the needs of Relief-Eligible Survivors through a one hundred percent federal match and provide technical assistance and support to develop innovative state strategies to respond to an increase of out-of-state individuals eligible for Medicaid. Lastly, the bills create grants to help states develop an emergency response corps to provide home and community-based services.

 

Plain Language 

On October 24th, Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representative Panetta (D-CA-19) introduced the Disaster Relief Medicaid Act (S. 3120 / H.R. 6029). The bills will let people who are affected natural disasters or pandemics to continue to get services from Medicaid if they have to move. 

 

Action Steps

Read the bill text. Read the announcement from Representative Panetta. Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of continued Medicaid services for persons with disabilities impacted by disasters or emergencies. You can reach your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 
 

Home and Community Based Services Relief Act Introduced

On October 24th, Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representative Dingell (D-MI-6) introduced the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act (S. 3118 / H.R. 6296).  The bills would provide “dedicated Medicaid funds to states for two years to stabilize their HCBS service delivery networks, recruit and retain HCBS direct care workers, and meet the long-term service and support needs of people eligible for Medicaid home and community-based services.” States would also receive a 10-point increase in the federal match (FMAP) for Medicaid for two fiscal years to enhance HCBS.

 

Plain Language 

On October 24th, Senator Casey (D-PA) and Representative Dingell (D-MI-6) introduced the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Relief Act (S. 3118 / H.R. 6296).  The bills will give money to states so they can provide more HCBS, and so that they can hire more direct care workers and pay them more money.

 

Action Steps

Read the bill text. Read the announcement from Senator Casey. Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of home and community-based services. You can reach your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

 
 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Announces Advisory Committee on Long COVID

On November 17th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new advisory committee to focus on Long COVID. The goal of the Advisory Committee is to bring in diverse voices to ensure that the federal government’s continued response to Long COVID is delivered in an equitable manner. The Advisory Committee will help bring perspectives from outside of the government to help inform action on Long COVID, with a focus on health equity.  HHS is accepting nominations for members of the Advisory Committee, and they are looking for members from historically underserved communities and those who are still experiencing from the effects of the Long COVID. HHS is accepting nominations for committee members until January 16th.

 

Plain Language 

On November 17th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they will be setting up a new advisory committee to focus on Long COVID.  Long COVID is when someone who is sick with COVID-19 continues to feel sick for weeks, months, or years after they first test positive. The Committee will help the government take action on Long COVID to keep everyone safe and healthy.

 

Action Steps

Read more about the Advisory Committee on Long COVID and submit nominations for committee members.

 
 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Released Protocol for Providing Preventative Services to Individuals with Disabilities

The Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC) within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a protocol for the healthcare delivery of clinical prevention services to persons with disabilities to educate health professionals about how to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same level of preventative healthcare as persons without disabilities.

People with disabilities often get screened for cancer and other diseases or disabilities at much lower rates than people without disabilities because of barriers such as inaccessible medical equipment, financial costs, transportation, and bias by medical providers towards persons with disabilities.

 

Plain Language 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released guidance for healthcare providers to follow while treating patients with disabilities. People with disabilities often do not get checked for things like cancer at the doctor's office because the medical equipment is inaccessible, they cannot get to the doctor, or afford to go to the doctor. This new guidance will help health providers to learn more about the obstacles persons with disabilities face in getting healthcare, and will help persons with disabilities get equal levels of healthcare.

 

Action Steps

Read more about the Protocol for Providing Preventative Care to Patients with Disabilities.

 
 

U.S. Department of Justice Released Guidance on the Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Day Services for People with Disabilities

On October 31st, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released guidance on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employment and day services for people with disabilities. Persons with disabilities who work in segregated settings often do not get to interact with persons without disabilities, and face little to no opportunities for advancement. State and local governments that employ people with disabilities in a minimally integrated setting may be violating Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination of qualified persons with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services provided by public entities. The guidance from the DOJ complements and supplements the DOJ’s 2011 Olmstead guidance to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to integrated employment.

 

Plain Language 

On October 31st, the Department of Justice released guidance about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be applied by state and local governments that employ people with disabilities. Many people with disabilities are employed by state and local governments, but they often work separate from their co-workers without disabilities and are not given any chances for promotions. In some cases, this goes against what the ADA says, so the DOJ released guidance to make sure that state and local governments are following the rules of the ADA.

 

Action Steps

Read more about the DOJ’s new guidance.

 
 
 
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