AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 22, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 22, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 42
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AUCD staff, along with other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), continue to meet with Members of the Budget Committee and other congressional leaders who are working on a deficit reduction plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.  CCD also hand delivered a letter signed by over 45 national organizations calling for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.  Our message is clear: deficit reduction strategies must reflect a thoughtful, balanced approach and include all aspects of the federal budget in order to protect people with disabilities.  In addition, any modifications to entitlement programs which people with disabilities depend on for their health, long-term supports, and income security as their lifeline must not result in reduced access to needed services either directly, through eligibility restrictions or benefit cuts, or indirectly, through inadequate provider reimbursement rates. A fact sheet specific to the impact of Medicaid cuts has also been shared. Please see the Oct. 15 and other previous issues of In Brief for background information regarding the deficit reduction negotiations.

As of September 30, 2012, funding for Work Incentives Planning Assistance (WIPA) and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs has ceased, leaving many Social Security recipients without return to work assistance and other services.  However, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has the legal authority to fund WIPA/PABSS with FY12 discretionary funds.  Disability advocates continue to push the SSA to use this avenue to continue the programs. In the meantime, PABSS grantees have been negotiating with SSA for no-cost extensions.  Legislation to reauthorize these programs was introduced early in this Congress; unfortunately, no action was taken. See CCD letter urging Congress to reauthorize these programs for more information.

Health Care: Get the Facts and Medicare
According to economists at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, claims by some policymakers that the Medicare program is nearing "bankruptcy" are misleading.  Although Medicare faces major financing challenges, the program is not on the verge of bankruptcy or ceasing to operate, according to the report.  Such charges represent a misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of Medicare's finances.  The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare's current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the "doughnut-hole" in Medicare's coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with his proposal to simultaneously repeal health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all. The plan also could likely lead to the gradual end of traditional Medicare by making its pool of beneficiaries smaller, older, and sicker - and increasingly costly to cover.  See the entire report on the Center website.

For those of you following the Prevention and Public Health Trust Fund dollars, the FY 2012 funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have now been allocated.  See attached chart, sorted by state.

Social Security
The Social Security Administration announced a 1.7 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2013. Additionally, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 1.7%. This COLA is smaller than the 3.6% COLA that went into effect in 2012. More information is available on the Social Security website.

Upcoming Election:  Get out the Vote

On Tuesday, October 16th, the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosted a discussion on "Get Out the Vote" strategies for the upcoming election.  A panel of three voter rights experts, Becky Ogle, Senior Advisor to the Democratic National Convention, Heather Booth, a leading social change strategist, and Michelle Bishop, Vote Project Officer at Paraquad, discussed the need to ensure that individuals with disabilities understand their right to vote and their right to request assistance at the polls.  If any voter encounters a problem on Election Day, or has any general voting questions or concerns, they should call the Election Protection Hotline: 1-866-OUR VOTE (1-866-687-8683).  Click here for more information on Election Day Voter Assistance.  See also Kelly Buckland and Betty William's get out the vote message at the National Forum on Disability Issues:

Presidential Candidates' Positions on Disability Issues: Transcript available
Learn more about the presidential candidates' positions on disability issues. If you didn't get a chance to tune into the Presidential Forum on Disability Issues live, the complete video and transcript from the event are now available. 

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

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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