Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Arc Federal Update: Hot Topics from the Hill

FY 2010 Appropriations
The House passed a one month Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep most federal programs operating at current FY 2009 levels through October 31.  The Senate is expected to pass an identical CR this week.  None of the twelve FY 2010 appropriations bills will be signed into law prior to the start of the fiscal year.
Health Care Reform
The Senate Finance Committee began to mark up the America's Healthy Future Act of 2009. The following provisions, which are of particular interest to persons with disabilities, were included:
  • Addition of the Community First Choice Option (CFC) to the package. The CFC Option would allow states to provide individuals with disabilities who are eligible for Medicaid institutional settings with a broad array of community-based services and supports. Services under this option would include supports to assist individuals with activities of daily living (ADLs), instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), and health-related tasks through hands-on assistance, supervision, or cueing. States choosing to use the CFC Option would enjoy a 6 percent increase in the federal Medicaid match rate. The Option would sunset after 5 years. This provision was added by Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) as part of his modifications to the Chairman's Mark. Senator Schumer (D-NY) had submitted the provision as a proposed amendment, but did not need to offer it during the Committee mark-up since it was included in the Chairman's modified Mark. Advocates believe that the CFC Option would support the Olmstead decision and help address state waiting lists by giving people the choice to leave facilities and institutions for their own homes and communities with appropriate, cost effective services and supports.
  • An elimination of Medicare Part D co-pays for dual eligibles (those who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits) residing in home and community based settings and covered under Sec. 1115 and 1915 waiver programs. This amendment was offered by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
The House of Representatives, by a vote of 408-18, approved the Medicare Premium Fairness Act, (H.R. 3631), a one year fix that will avert a premium increase for the Medicare Part B (outpatient) program. Its $.2.8 billion cost will be offset by cuts to the Medicare Improvements Program.  The Senate could act on the premium bill soon. 

Information contained in this update is from The Arc of the US and the Disability Policy Collaborative

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