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Legislative Issues « Disabilities – Legal

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National Council on Disability,
Community Choice Act,
Legislative Issues
re: Rights of People with Disabilities


National Council on Disability – Report to President Obama

  • National Disability Policy: A Progress Report – (updated August 2012)
  • Patti's Comments:  In October, 2011 The National Council on Disability issued a report to the President on the current state of people with disabilities in American and provides a range of recommendations for reforms. This is important and essential reading for all folks with disabilities and their families. In the section near and dear to my heart entitled "Community Living, There is no Place Like Home" the report assets: “ No disability policy is in greater need of reform than the antiquated Medicaid rules that favor institutional settings over home and community-based services (HCBS)” …
    “The institutional bias in Medicaid not only is fiscally irresponsible but also violates one of the most cherished American values — the right to live in the community. On June 21, 2011, NCD and the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus provided a congressional briefing on a landmark Supreme Court decision, Olmstead v. L.C.,5 and the benefits of HCBS, delivered primarily under Medicaid. In Olmstead, the Supreme Court ruled that under the ADA, unnecessary institutional segregation of the disabled constitutes discrimination. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice has focused enforcement efforts on requiring states to offer HCBS instead of confining people in institutions. Although many individuals have successfully transitioned to community settings in recent years, waiting lists for community services have grown considerably, and many who would opt for community services are not able to obtain them. Recent state budget crises have compounded the problem and threaten to erode the gains made in recent years as many states short-sightedly cut home- and community-based services in an attempt to balance their budgets. Although states are prohibited by the Affordable Care Act from limiting Medicaid eligibility, other state policies have reduced HCBS by lowering reimbursement rates to HCBS providers and reducing the number of approved HCBS hours per beneficiary. Additionally, the expiration of the enhanced Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) made available to states through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has led to state expenditures on HCBS dropping to pre-recession levels.
    Many people have turned to the courts to prevent states from cutting essential home and community-based services, given that the effect of these cuts is often a guaranteed path for Medicaid beneficiaries to an institutional placement, which is at odds with the Olmstead decision. This is a tragic waste of scarce resources. Home and community-based services need federal protection that does not force people with disabilities to litigate in order to stay in their homes.
    As Congress and the Administration grapple with the federal debt crisis, the elimination of the institutional bias in Medicaid is both a moral and a fiscal imperative. Data show that people ages 31 to 64 now make up 14 percent of the nursing home population,10 up from 10 percent just a decade ago. The data do not show why this age group is entering nursing homes in higher numbers, but reversing this alarming trend must become a national priority.” (emphasis added from PEKD).
    I agree 100% with this assertion and others in the report and I encourage each of you to encourage the advocates you work with to support this recommendation in your ongoing efforts to assure people with disabilities have the freedom to live, work and play freely in their communities and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is protected!

Community Choice Act

Legislative Issues related to People with Disabilities

  • A Disability Policy for the 21st Century (The Hill's Congress Blog – 1/19/12)
    Of the roughly 17.5 million working-age people in the United States living with a disability, nearly 70 percent receive disability benefits. A recent study revealed that 12 percent of all federal spending goes to supporting this population—$357 billion in 2008. Just 33 percent of working-age people with disabilities are employed, compared to 73 percent of those with no disability. This costly system is failing both people with disabilities and taxpayers.
  • Disability Rights Laws – Overview (Work World)
    This topic provides a brief description of the purposes and provisions of some of the most significant Federal legislation related to the rights of people with disabilities. Because of the interrelated nature of many benefits programs, both with respect to each other as well as to legislation, a description or explanation of one often references the other. 
  • How Trumpcare Turns Back the Clock on Disability Rights
    While the AHCA may never become law, its very existence is a disturbing reminder of persistent injustices. Nearly three decades after the Capitol Crawl, America still isn’t an equitable place for people with disabilities.
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities in America (Disabled World)
    The basic rights of every person, despite disability status, are presented through some different treaties. These treaties include the following:
     •The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
     •The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
     •The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
     •The Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (CEDPWD)
    The rights persons with disabilities have include equality before the law, freedom of speech, respect for privacy, the right to both marriage and family, the right to education, the right to health, and much more. The year 2006 found the United Nations drafting the CRPD in recognition of the difficult and overlapping barriers persons with disabilities face. The CRPD is the first treaty that comprehensively addresses every aspect of discrimination related to disability, to include areas such as education, employment, self-determination, and privacy. The United States of America signed the CRPD in the year 2009, although it has not yet ratified the Convention.
  • S.3895Keeping All Students Safe Act  (Our Children Left Behind)
    Our concerns about S.3895 are driven in part by our experiences with the IEP process and with how documentation works in the real school world.  We know from our own experiences that the IEP process is heavily weighted toward the views and intentions of school personnel rather than parents. We are not comfortable with a system that relies on the IEP process alone to determine whether restraint/seclusion plan should be embedded into a student’s IEP.