NAELA Updates « Important Federal Legislation/ Issues
Dear NAELA –
As many of you know, the NAELA Public Policy Committee (Michael J. Amoruso, Chair) and our public policy consultant, Brian Lindberg, have been working hard on the following two public policy priorities: 1) The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act, and 2) The Disabled Military Child Protection Act. I wanted to provide all of you with an update on both priorities, as reported to me by Brian Lindberg, a short while ago.
Special Needs Trust Fairness Act
The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (S.1672) was filed as an amendment (#35) to the Senate Finance Committee SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) legislation by Senators Nelson, Grassley, Rockefeller, and Enzi. Subsequently, the Committee leadership included the Fairness Act in the Committee bill. The bill was then passed by unanimous consent by the Finance Committee on December 12.
A similar SGR bill was passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on December 12, but it did not include the Senate amendments. Neither the House nor the Senate bills have determined how to pay for the cost of modifying the SGR system. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will work on the differences between bills and the funding issue over the next several months. Also on December 12, the House has voted (332-92) to approve a bipartisan budget deal that includes a temporary Medicare SGR "doc fix." The bill delays for three months a 24% cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 and replaces it with a 0.5% increase to reimbursements over three years. The Senate plans on considering the bill on December 17.
Prior to the Senate Finance Committee markup of the SGR legislation, NAELA has enlisted relevant state chapter presidents to contact their senators on the Finance Committee asking them to support the amendment. NAELA staff has continued to advocate for co-sponsorship and support for the amendment this week with both majority and minority staff.
Disabled Military Child Protection Act
The Senate and House Armed Services Committees have announced an agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013. The Disabled Military Child Protection Act (S. 1076) was removed from the NDAA during conference discussions with the House. NAELA was told by Senator Gillibrand’s staff that there were “tax issues” that came up during the conference that could not be resolved in a timely manner. However, the compromise conference report between the Senate and the House now includes language calling for a study on the feasibility and advisability for authorizing individuals to direct their Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity to a special needs trust for their disabled child.
Once the study is completed, Senator Gillibrand’s staff will work to have the Disabled Military Child Protection Act included in next year’s 2014 NDAA markup.
On December 12, the House also approved the aforementioned compromise version of the NDAA by a vote of 350-69. The Senate plans to consider the bill under a fast-track process that precludes senators from tacking on controversial amendments (e.g., Iran sanctions). The Senate is expected to take up the bill on December 17 or 18, but the bill will need enough Republican support to secure the 60 votes required to move the bill forward without procedural delays.
We will continue to keep you apprised of developments regarding both of these priorities. Please feel free to post any questions you may have on the listserv, or you may reach Michael Amoruso at (914) 253-9255 (Michael@Amorusolaw.com) or me at (561) 750-3850 (HKrooks@ElderLawAssociates.com).
Howie Krooks, President