Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday Quick Hits: Hot Policy Topics for This Week

Election 2008
Primary 2008:
January 3, 2008.
We are eight days away from the Iowa Primary. After almost a year of Presidential campaigning it is time for the primaries to begin. We have sat through multiple debates and now it is time to see how the people of Iowa feel about the candidates.

National Election Information:
The Arc of North Carolina Policy Blog will be following the Presidential Primary and posting information on this website. Next week will begin a series of Julia's Musings that looks at the health policies of the Presidential candidates and how people with disabilities are included or not included in their health care platforms.

North Carolina
Our General Assembly will return to committee meetings starting Thursday, January 3, 2008.

House Special Committee:
Thursday, January 3, 2008.
10:00am HSC to Investigate Alleged Misconduct and Other Matters Included in Indictments Against Representative Thomas Wright. 544 LOB

Friday, January 4, 2008.
12:00pm 21st Century Transportation Committee-Intermodal Committee-Burlington, North Carolina.


Congress is in recess. The House of Representatives will return on January 15 and the Senate returns on January 22.

FY 2008 Appropriations
The House and Senate wrapped up their work on H.R. 2764, the omnibus spending bill that provides funding for the remaining 11 spending bills that Congress had not yet passed this year. H.R. 2764 passed the Senate by a vote of 76-17 on December 18. The next day the House voted, 272-142, to send President Bush a $555 billion year-end spending bill. The bill includes $70 billion for the war added by the Senate and less spending on domestic programs than hoped for by the Democratic majority.

While a few disability programs received small increases, others were level-funded or received small cuts. Detailed information on appropriations for disability programs will be provided in the upcoming issue of Washington Watch.

President Bush is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill but has until Dec. 31 to do so. Congress cleared a continuing resolution Wednesday (H J Res 72) that will keep the government funded through that date.

Following many weeks of tense negotiations, Congress approved the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (S. 2499). This legislation includes:
§ A six month 0.5% increase in Medicare physician reimbursements, averting a 10% decrease scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2208;
§ A six month (until June 30, 2008) moratorium on the proposed Medicaid rehab option and school based services/transportation regulations;
§ An extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 31, 2009 that provides sufficient funding to avoid funding shortfalls in 2008; and
§ An extension of the current exceptions process for Medicare’s cap on outpatient rehabilitation therapy services (i.e. physical, occupational and speech therapies) through June 30, 2008.

President Bush is expected to sign S. 2499.

Special Thanks to DPC for the Federal Update.

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