Volume 15, Issue 25
June 28, 2010
Major Events Last Week
The Senate again fell short of votes to end debate on the tax extender bill. The bill extends expiring tax breaks and contains domestic spending, including the six month extension of the temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid spending (FMAP). After failing to pass twice the week before, the Senate again was only able to secure 57 votes in support of the bill, three short of what they needed to move forward. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states have already budgeted for the Medicaid funds, which would provide additional money for six months beginning Jan. 1. Of those states, only 9 have contingency plans in place if the money doesn't arrive. The bill faces an uncertain future as the Senate turns its attention to other issues. Unless an FMAP extension is passed, most states will likely make significant cuts to their Medicaid programs for FY 2011.
The U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Florida ordered the state of Florida to provide home and community based services to Michele Haddad who has quadriplegia and has lived in the community with support for several years. When Ms. Haddad's caregiver situation changed, she asked the state to provide the support services. Florida told her that the only way she could get the services was by entering a nursing home. The court ruled that placement in a nursing home would be discrimination. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an amicus brief in the case in support of Ms. Haddad. See DOJ's press release at: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/June/10-crt-741.html.
In honor of the one year anniversary of the Year of Community Living and the eleven year anniversary of the Olmstead decision, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new program within the Community Living Initiative. The Housing Capacity Building Initiative for Community Living is a $3.2 million, three-year contract designed to create partnership between HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The initiative will provide technical assistance to state and local entities to plan and implement effective program options that link housing with long-term care services and supports for people with disabilities and older adults.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a letter to state Medicaid directors on the extension of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Rebalancing Demonstration. The Affordable Care Act authorized $450 million per year through fiscal year 2016 to maintain the MFP rebalancing demonstration grant program. MFP began in 2005 to increase the use of home and community based services (HCBS). Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have implemented MFP demonstration projects, bringing approximately 6,000 people out of institutions. With the extension of the program, additional states are able to start MFP demonstration projects, and the existing states will be able to seamlessly transition into the next five years. The extension of the program also changes the definition of individuals eligible to participate in MFP. Instead of having resided in an institution for more than 6 months, individuals are eligible for MFP after residing in an institution for more than 90 days.
Major Events Ahead
On Thursday, the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. John Olver (D-MA), may mark up its FY 2011 bill. The Arc and UCP have aggressively been working to restore a proposed cut which would eliminate production of new units in the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will meet in Washington on Wednesday morning, with the afternoon devoted to taking testimony from interested organizations. The Commission is charged with making recommendations to address the federal deficit and all federal programs are on the table in the Commission's deliberations. The Commission proceedings can be watched live through the Commission's website: http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/
Senator Robert Byrd
Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) passed away early this morning at the age of 92. Senator Byrd was the longest serving Member of Congress in U.S. history. Byrd held many Senate leadership positions including Senate Majority Leader (1977-80). He was the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee from 1989 to early 2009. He continued to serve on the Appropriations Committee in addition to the Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Rules and Administration, and the Budget Committee. Senator Byrd's death will make it more difficult for Democrats to secure votes for their priority legislation during the remainder of the 111th Congress.
Accessible Medical Equipment
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in March requires the US Access Board to develop accessibility standards for medical equipment, including examination tables, x-ray machines, mammography equipment, and weight scales, over the next two years. On July 29 the Board will hold a public meeting to allow interested parties and members of the public to provide input on the approach to this rulemaking. For more information, see:
National Council on Disability
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Ari Ne'eman to become the first person with autism to serve on the National Council on Disability. The Council, an independent Federal agency, makes recommendations on disability policy to the President, Congress and Federal agencies. President Obama appointed Mr. Ne'eman along with seven others in December but a unanimous hold was placed on Mr. Ne'eman's appointment. The hold, which prevented the Senate from voting on the nomination, was lifted last Tuesday morning. For more information on the council and its members see: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/members/members.htm.
Previous issues of the Capitol Insider may be viewed at www.ucp.org under "Public Policy." If you have any questions, feel free to contact Annie Acosta at email@example.com.