Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Quick Hits: National Hot Policy Topics for This Week

This information provided by DPC:

U.S. Congress

The Congress returns to work tomorrow.
  There are about three and a half weeks remaining before a Christmas break is scheduled.  Passage of a health care reform bill in the Senate and continued work on the remaining Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bills will dominate the House and Senate agendas in December.
Health Reform
The Senate returns this week to begin debating the health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Currently the bill includes the following provisions which are of major importance to people with disabilities:
  • Major insurance market reforms including elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions and annual and lifetime caps;
  • Coverage of rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices in the essential benefits package for the new insurance Exchange;
  • An expansion of Medicaid eligibility up to 133% of the federal poverty level;
  • The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act which will establish a new nation wide long term services insurance program that will help individuals and their families meet their needs without needing to be impoverished;
  • The Community First Choice (CFC) Medicaid option which will make comprehensive community-based services available to Medicaid beneficiaries in states which choose the option (it would begin on Oct 1, 2010 with no sunset date); and
  • A requirement for the development of standards for accessible diagnostic and other medical equipment.
It is expected that a number of issues will be vigorously debated, including the overall cost of the bill and the role of a public program as an alternative to private health care coverage.  While debate may continue through most of December, Senate Democratic leaders hope to complete work on the bill before the Christmas recess.  It is unclear at this time whether the Democratic leadership has the votes necessary to pass the bill or to amend it in ways to garner the 60 votes necessary for passage.  The House passed its version of health care reform on November 7.

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