Volume 15, Issue 34
August 30, 2010
CELEBRATE SOCIAL SECURITY’S 75TH BIRTHDAY!
PROTECT IT FROM EFFORTS TO REDUCE FEDERAL DEFICIT
Major Events Last Week
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided states with sample forms to request the temporary federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) increase approved by Congress earlier in August. In order to receive the additional federal funds for the January 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011 period, states must submit a request by September 24, 2010. See the CMS letter at:http://ccf.georgetown.edu/index/cms-filesystem-action?file=policy/financing/fmap%20extension%20guidance.pdf.
USA Today is reporting that more than 50 million Americans are on Medicaid, according to a survey of state data. This is a 17% increase since December 2007. This is continuing to put a stress on state budgets and Medicaid providers as they try to serve eligible individuals. See the article at:http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-08-30-1Asafetynet30_ST_N.htm.
The Federal Register published the adjusted FMAP rate for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2010 (April 1 through June 30, 2010). The chart provided in the notice tells what percentage each state will receive given the temporary increase and the unemployment adjustment. See the document at:http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-21235.pdf.
Health Care Reform Implementation
The DPC joined the Consortium For Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health Task Force in submitting comments on the regulations to implement several health insurance markets reforms that become effective September 23, 21010. CCD strongly urged HHS to strengthen certain provisions about the exclusion of pre-existing conditions clauses and the lifetime and annual limits that may undermine these important changes for people with disabilities. See our comments at: http://www.thearc.org/document.doc?id=2664.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two employment discrimination lawsuits under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston. In the first lawsuit against ENGlobal Engineering, Inc., an energy engineering and professional services company, EEOC alleged the company fired an individual because it regarded him as having a disability. The employer insisted that the employee take a medical leave of absence when he began experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis even though he could still work. When the person returned to work with a doctor's clearance, ENGlobal falsely told him his position was no longer available. Three weeks later, the company hired someone else.
In the second employment discrimination lawsuit, EEOC alleged that DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company refused to hire someone who had previously worked for the company because his wife had cancer which the company felt would interfere with his ability to do his job. The company later hired someone with no experience for the position. Discrimination based on association with a person who has a disability is prohibited under title I of the ADA. See EEOC's press release at: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/8-26-10.cfm.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a settlement agreement with Oconee County, South Carolina which agreed to make its courthouse accessible to people with disabilities. DOJ conducted a compliance review of the courthouse under title II of the ADA and found numerous problems, including inaccessible restrooms, inaccessible witness stands in courtrooms, absence of wheelchair spaces in jury boxes, inaccessible metal detector at the only designated accessible entrance, and inadequate accessible parking in lots and garages. The courthouse had been built in 2003.
Major Events Ahead
Health Care Reform Implementation
The Department of Health and Human Services continues to publish interim final regulations implementing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Recently the following regulations were published with the opportunity to provide comments. DPC staff will be analyzing the regulations and working with coalition partners to provide comments.
* Regulation on Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. This regulation provides guidance on the administration of the pre-existing condition insurance plans to be offered by the states and the federal government until January of 2014 when the health insurance exchanges begin. To be eligible for the plan a person must have a pre-existing condition and be without insurance for 6 months.
* Request for Comment on Health Insurance Exchanges. This is an opportunity to provide input on how the state health insurance exchanges should be set up.
* Regulation on Consumers' Right to Appeal Health Plan Decisions. This is an opportunity to provide comment on the ways the ACA improved consumer appeal procedures.
With the theme "Courage in the Classroom: Honoring America's Teachers," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has kicked off a Back-to-School Tour, where he will visit schools that are facing challenges and demonstrating success. He will talk with teachers about how they are helping their students achieve and how the federal government can best support educators. The bus route is over 800 miles long, and will span eight states. The hope is to engage in conversations with teachers and other educators about the critical work they're doing to educate America's young people, as well as with parents and students about their goals for the new school year and beyond. The DPC encourages disability advocates to participate in the tour and address issues of particular concern to our community - inclusion, special education teacher training, and restraint and seclusion. Follow the Bus Tour blog at: www.ED.gov/BusTour.
The National Commission on Children and Disasters, appointed by the President in 2007, approved a report to the President and Congress that highlights on-going gaps in disaster preparedness for children since Hurricane Katrina five years ago. Although the report focuses on children, many of the identified gaps and over 100 recommendations pertain to individuals with disabilities as well. For example, the Commission found poor coordination among federal, state, and local programs and lack of preparedness in the private health care system. The report calls for establishing regional Children's Disaster Coordinators (Regional Disability Coordinator job announcements were recently posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency); giving priority to the needs of families with children who have disabilities in housing assistance; specifically addressing the evacuation and transportation needs of children with disabilities in congregate care settings, and creating a national data system for keeping track of evacuated children so that they can be reunited with their families. The final report will be available in early October. For the executive summary of the report, see:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.