March 9 Washington Update
Greetings from Washington. This week's update will once again focus on the F2F funding legislation, and cover a few other items of interest.
F2F funding bills. As you know from earlier reports, legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to extend funding for F2Fs for an additional three years - through Federal FY 2015 - at the current level of funding. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the House bill (H.R. 4083) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Senate bill (S. 2123). To find the text of bills, cosponsors (including ones added later), and other information, you can go to www.thomas.gov and search by bill number (it is not possible to link directly to the bill pages).
At this point, our goal is to maximize the number of cosponsors on the bills. The more cosponsors, the greater the chances that the funding extension will get incorporated into a larger piece of legislation and ultimately be enacted.
All of you who are concerned about the future of F2Fs should contact your Members of Congress to urge that they cosponsor these bills. You can call them through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. (To find the names of your Members of Congress, go to http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/index.htm.) When you speak to the receptionist, state that you are a constituent and ask to speak to the staff person who handles health issues. If that person is not available to talk, you can leave a BRIEF message identifying yourself as a constituent who has a child with special health care needs (if applicable) and asking that the Representative/Senator cosponsor a bill that would extend funding for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. Refer to the appropriate bill number and sponsor - in the Senate, S. 2123, sponsored by Senator Menendez; in the House, H.R. 4083, sponsored by Rep. Pallone. Leave your phone number and email address. (Remember to use your personal contact information, not that of your F2F.)
You can also write to your Representative (even if you call) via the "Advocacy" section of the Family Voices website, where you will find a pre-written letter that you fill in with your personal information. (You do not need to know the name of your Representative.) Please ask families you have worked with, friends, and relatives to write their Representatives through the Family Voices website also. The URL is http://www.familyvoices.org/action/advocate. At this time, the website is not configured to automatically send the letter to Senators, but simple instructions about how to contact your Senators, and text to copy and paste, can also be found on that page. (You do not need to know the names of your Senators.)
If one of your Senators or Representatives has already cosponsored one of the bills, please call or write to thank them. Cosponsors are listed at the end of this update.
Please feel free to call Brooke or Janis (contact information below) if you have any questions.
Toolkit for young adults who need insurance. Families USA and the organization "Young Invincibles" have developed a toolkit to help young adults seeking insurance coverage. As described by Families USA, "The toolkit gives state by state coverage options as well as up-to-date information on the costs and benefits of student health plans, information on how to stay on your parent's plan, assistance for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and updates on the ACA. It also has tips for young women, important information on young adults and cancer, and much more." Click here to download the Health Care Toolkit.
Over 100 million Americans helped by elimination of lifetime insurance limits. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report this week about how many people have benefited from the ACA's elimination of lifetime limits on insurance coverage. Of the 105 million who have benefited, the report estimates that 28 million are children, with the remainder split almost equally between adult men and women. The press release about the report can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/03/20120305a.html and the full report - which has data for each state -- can be found at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/LifetimeLimits/ib.shtml.
The Arc establishes National Council of Self Advocates (NCSA). In order to foster the involvement of individuals with I/DD in its work, The Arc has created National Council of Self Advocates and is welcoming individuals to join. Members will be able to "network with others who are involved in advocacy work, educate the public about the issues that are important to people with I/DD, and become active leaders in their communities. In addition, the Council will also be promoting leadership roles for individuals with I/DD in local chapters of The Arc and supporting The Arc's commitment to employing individuals with I/DD." For more information, click here.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. And don't forget to thank the Members who cosponsored the F2F funding bills. (See list below.)
NOTE: Past issues of the Washington update can be found on the Family Voices home page by scrolling down in the "News Feed" section.
Cosponsors of Menendez and Pallone bills
Below are the URLS for email forms that can be used to thank cosponsors of the F2F funding bills. If you prefer, you can call your Member's office via the Capitol switchboard at 202‑224‑3121. (If you have a personal relationship with the health legislative assistant, or if you recently contacted them about this bill, you can call or email the staffer directly.) Remember to send emails in your personal or organizational capacity, not as an F2F.
Senators cosponsoring S. 2123:
Kent Conrad (D-ND) www.conrad.senate.gov/contact/webform.cfm
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) www.bingaman.senate.gov/contact/
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) www.whitehouse.senate.gov/contact/
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) www.lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/routing.cfm
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) www.snowe.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact?p=email
Representatives cosponsoring H.R. 4083:
Jim Langevin (D-RI) http://langevin.house.gov/contact/
David Cicilline (D-RI) https://cicilline.house.gov/contact-me/email-me
Chellie Pingree (D-ME) http://pingree.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=700&Itemid=8
Michael Michaud (D-ME) https://michaud.house.gov/contact-me/email-mike
Eliot Engel (D-NY) http://engel.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=169§iontree=3,169
Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC) https://forms.house.gov/norton/webforms/issue_subscribe.htm