July 27, 2012

July 27 Washington Update


Greetings from Washington.  This week, the White House and disabilities advocates celebrated the 22nd birthday of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26.  On the same day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended approval of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Anniversary of the ADA.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted 22 years ago, on July 26, 1990.  The President's proclamation of the anniversary can read at

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/26/presidential-proclamation-anniversary-americans-disabilities-act-2012.  The Department of Justice has a website devoted to the ADA at http://www.ada.gov/.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), celebrated the ADA anniversary by voting (13-6) to favorably report the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to the full Senate.  Although the United States has signed the CRPD, the treaty must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate for the US to fully participate in its implementation.  The treaty is supported by Senators from both sides of the aisle, but also faces opposition from some quarters.  (See last week's Washington update.)  For more information on the CRPD, see the website of the US International Council on Disabilities. If you would like to express your support for the treaty to your Senators, they can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or through contact information found at t http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

F2F funding bills (S. 2123 and H.R. 4083).  No new cosponsors this week, so the House bill still has a total of 12 cosponsors in addition to Representative Pallone.  There are nine Senate cosponsors in addition to Senator Menendez.  Cosponsors of both bills are listed at the end of this update.

If you will be in DC next week for the OSERS conference, please consider doing a visit to your Senators and/or Representative, and let us know about it.  We can help you prepare and may be able to accompany you if you wish.  And if you do a visit, please let us know how it went.

The policy team continues efforts to garner congressional support for the legislation by meeting with Hill staffers, particularly those of Senate Finance Committee members.  As some of you know, we are copying the F2Fs from the applicable states on email correspondence with the staffers, and letting them know that they can get more information from you about the F2F in your state. 

If we hope to get the F2Fs re-funded, Members of Congress will need to hear from F2Fs about how effectively they are spending their federal grant funds, and from families about how important F2F services have been in their lives.

If your Members of Congress have not yet cosponsored the legislation, please contact them to ask that they do so.  See the guidance at the end of this update or click here now to send a pre-drafted letter to your Representative.  Please forward this information to your family, friends, health care providers, and other families of CYSHCN and ask them to contact their Members of Congress as well. 

And, if you haven't done so already, please thank your Senator(s) and Representative who have cosponsored the legislation. You can find their contact information by clicking on their names on the list of cosponsors at the end of this update.

ACA implementation

CBO report.  This week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the congressional Joint Tax Committee (JCT) issued a new analysis of the cost of implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  It found that the implementation of law will be $84 billion cheaper for the federal government, over the next decade, than originally expected, due to the Supreme Court ruling that made the Medicaid expansion optional.  In addition, the CBO found that repeal of the ACA would cost $109 billion over the next decade, since that would otherwise be the amount by which the law would reduce the federal deficit. (This price tag will make it politically more difficult for proponents of repealing the law.)

The report also estimated that fewer people will be insured than originally estimated, due to the Supreme Court's Medicaid ruling.  In 2022, for example, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are expected to cover about 6 million fewer people than previously estimated; about 3 million more people will be enrolled in exchanges, and about 3 million more people will be uninsured.

To see each state's current position on the Medicaid expansion, see http://ahlalerts.com/2012/07/03/medicaid-where-each-state-stands-on-the-medicaid-expansion/

The "Family Glitch."  Under the ACA, certain individuals will be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase health care insurance if they do not have access to "affordable" health insurance through their employers.  In March, the IRS issued a proposed rule of great concern to child advocates.  Under this proposed rule, the affordability of employer-offered insurance would be based on the cost of premiums for employee-only coverage, not family coverage.  As a result, subsidies would not be available to many families with children, even though they might not be able to afford the premiums for a family plan without assistance.  Family Voices joined other child health organizations in expressing concern about this proposed rule.

In May, the IRS finalized the rule, confirming that the proposed self-only insurance affordability standard would apply to employees, but deferring a decision on the affordability standard for other eligible family members, such as children.   

This week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report urging the IRS to consider "whether it would be consistent with the goals of [the Affordable Care Act] to adopt an alternative approach that would consider the cost of insuring eligible family members."

Regional forums on ACA implementation.  The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be holding four regional forums at which state officials and others can pose questions and provide comments about ACA implementation:

August 14:  Washington DC, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Great Hall, 200 Independence Ave, SW.

This session will also be webcast.

August 15:  Atlanta, National Archives at Atlanta, 5780 Jonesboro Road, Morrow, GA

August 21:  Chicago, Social Security Administration, Center Auditorium, 600 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL

August 22:  Denver, Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall, University of Denver, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO

To register for a forum, go to https://www.quickbase.com/db/bg92mriu2.

Webinars on the ACA.  The HHS Partnership Center is hosting a series of interactive webinars on the ACA.  All webinars are open to the public and will include a question and answer session.  HHS requests that participants submit questions in advance to ACA101@hhs.gov.  To register for a webinar, click on your preferred date below. 

National Webinars:

August 21, 2:00 pm ET - Tour of www.HealthCare.gov

August 28, 2:00 pm ET - The Health Care Law 101 (in Spanish)

Regional Health Care Law 101 Webinars:

August 2, 2:30 pm PT - Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Territories and Freely Associated States

August 7, 2:00 pm ET -New Jersey and New York

August 8, 11:00 am ET - Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont

August 8, 2:00 pm CT, 1:00 pm MT - Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas


[PLEASE NOTE:  Due to vacation schedules, and the slow period in Washington during the August congressional recess, there will not be another regular Washington Update for the next several weeks.]

As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions. 

Brooke Lehmann, MSW, Esq.

Janis Guerney, Esq.

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 House F2F funding bill, H.R. 4083, sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ):

Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7] - 4/26/2012
Rep Cicilline, David N. [RI-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 2/17/2012
Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] - 3/5/2012
Rep Hanabusa, Colleen W. [HI-1] - 7/18/2012
Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 2/17/2012
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 2/17/2012
Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] - 2/17/2012
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 3/8/2012
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/20/2012
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 7/9/2012


Cosponsors of Senate F2F funding bill, S. 2123, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez:

Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] - 6/4/2012
Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] - 2/17/2012
Sen Conrad, Kent [ND] - 2/17/2012
Sen Franken, Al [MN] - 6/5/2012
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 3/13/2012
Sen Klobuchar, Amy [MN] - 5/8/2012
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 2/17/2012
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] - 2/17/2012
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] - 2/17/2012


Contacting your Members of Congress about F2F funding bills

All of you who are concerned about the future of F2Fs should contact your Members of Congress to urge that they cosponsor the Menendez or Pallone bill. 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 home phone number and email address.

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.)

Remember:  Federal resources may not be used for lobbying activities.

Please feel free to call Brooke or Janis (contact information above) if you have any questions.