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March 2017 | Vol. 9, Issue 3
CONTENTS
Speaker Ryan Pulls Repeal and Replace Legislation for the Affordable Care Act
President Trump Targets Office of Disability Employment Policy in Proposed Budget
Legislation Re-Introduced to Outlaw
Subminimum Wages
National Disability Institute Participates in National ABLE Panel and is Focus of XYPN Radio ABLE Podcast
February Employment Profile


 

Speaker Ryan Pulls Repeal and Replace Legislation for the Affordable Care Act

Much of this month has been dedicated to educating policy makers, both in the House and the Senate, about the potentially catastrophic effects to people with disabilities and their families that the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) would have had on their lives if passed.

The AHCA, developed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/”Obamacare,” proposes, among other things, what amounts to an $880 billion cut to the Medicaid program over the next 10 years (according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report). Medicaid is the primary source of long-term services and supports, including employment services, for more than 10 million Americans with disabilities. Cuts of this magnitude would inevitably mean severe loss of supports provided to individual with disabilities, curtailed enrollment in Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and decreased provider rates.

In part, due to the tireless efforts of the disability advocacy community to educate members of Congress, Speaker Ryan, with support from President Trump, pulled the AHCA from floor consideration as a result of not having enough support to pass the legislation.

Provided the devastating cuts to Medicaid included in the bill, this was no small victory for the disability community. That being said, it is likely that Congress will now turn its focus to tax reform, infrastructure and security. With respect to those three focus areas, substantial increases to spending (infrastructure and security) will likely be proposed, along with reductions to revenues (tax cuts). This would result in the need to find funding within the government to offset the increased spending and decreased revenues. It is not unlikely that they will once again look to Medicaid to find those funds.

In preparation for this likely scenario, NDI will continue to work with its disability-related counterparts to educate policy makers about the importance of Medicaid to individuals with disabilities and their families.

For more information on how cuts to Medicaid can have substantially devastating impacts on people with disabilities, read the latest Huffington Post blog written by NDI Executive Director Michael Morris.

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President Trump Targets Office of Disability Employment Policy in Proposed Budget

This past month, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the President’s proposed
budget for fiscal year 2018 titled, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” President Trump’s budget proposes drastic cuts to most federal departments and agencies, including a $4.7 billion cut to the Department of Agriculture (which administers the SNAP program); $6.2 billion cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (which provides for low-income affordable housing); $12.6 billion cut to the Department of Health and Human Services (which administers Medicaid and Medicare); $9.2 billion cut to the Department of Education (which administers The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services); and $2.5 billion cut to the Department of Labor (which oversees the Office of Disability Employment Policy). These are just some of the departments that provide vital programs to children and adults with disabilities, and their families, that stand to be significantly cut if President Trump’s budget were fully implemented. The majority of these cuts are intended to offset the $54 billion increase in defense spending included in the proposal.

Additionally, the proposed budget specifically targets the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) stating that the President’s budget:

“Refocuses the Office of Disability Employment Policy, eliminating less critical technical assistance grants and launching an early intervention demonstration project to allow States to test and evaluate methods that help individuals with disabilities remain attached to or reconnect to the labor market.”

The “technical assistance grants” referenced in the document refer to the:

NDI, in collaboration with our fellow national disability-related advocacy organizations, will be working to better understand how this suggested “refocusing” and how the elimination of “less critical” technical assistance grants would affect those we represent.

It is important to note that this proposed budget is far less detailed than what we would typically expect in a President’s budget; this is common during the first year of any newly elected president. The administration reports that it will be releasing a more detailed budget sometime in May. Additionally, a president’s budget is a reflection of their priorities and a tool to articulate their goals to Congress. It is seen as a starting point for Congress to begin the budgetary process.

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Legislation Re-Introduced to Outlaw
Subminimum Wages

The “Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act of 2017” was introduced in the House earlier this month by Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS). The TIME Act, otherwise known as H.R. 1377, is a slightly revised version from the bill that was introduced in the 114th Congressional Session. The bill, which has garnered bi-partisan support, would phase out the practice of paying workers with disabilities wages below the federal minimum wage over a period of six years.

As outlined in Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a worker who has a disability can be paid less than the federally-imposed prevailing wage by an employer holding a special certificate issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. This certificate authorizes the employer to set and pay a worker with a disability a special minimum wage that is calculated on the worker’s individual productivity, in proportion to the wage and productivity of workers who do not have disabilities performing the same type, quantity and quality of work in the same geographic area. As a result of 14(c), many individuals with disabilities can earn an hourly wage of one dollar or less.

Every American deserves a fair shot at achieving the American Dream. We know employment is a crucial building block. Unfortunately, Section 14(c) prevents people with disabilities from reaching their full potential - both individually and economically. That is why we applaud Representative Harper, and other supporting members, for their leadership on the TIME Act. NDI, in collaboration with other national disability-related advocacy organizations, will be working with Congress to advance these efforts in the most thoughtful and responsible way possible.

Learn more about the TIME Act.

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National Disability Institute Participates in National ABLE Panel and is Focus of XYPN Radio ABLE Podcast

National Disability Institute (NDI), through its management of the ABLE National Resource Center, continues to lead the country with respect to ABLE-related expertise. Just this past month, NDI’s Director of Public Policy, Chris Rodriguez, was invited to sit on a national panel at the College Savings Foundation Conference to discuss the current status of ABLE programs and accounts nationwide. The panel discussion, which also included state ABLE program administrators, focused on consumer experience, outreach efforts, potential legislative proposals and successes and challenges in launching programs.

Additionally, Mr. Rodriguez, had the opportunity to talk about the ABLE Act and highlight the benefits of being an ABLE account owner on XYPN Radio, a podcast by “XY Planning Network,” a leading organization of fee-only financial advisors who specialize in working with Gen X and Gen Y clients. During this interview, Mr. Rodriguez shared a brief history of the ABLE Act, why this new opportunity is so important to people with disabilities and their families, and how NDI and the ABLE National Resource Center have been involved in the development of these programs and the laws that govern them.

Listen to the podcast.

For the latest on newly launched programs and all other ABLE related info, visit the ABLE National Resource Center website.

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February Employment Profile

Disability employment statistics for February 2017 show that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 10.2 percent. This is a 2.3 percent decrease from February 2016. The latest employment statistics also find that only 20.4 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the labor force, as compared to 68.4 percent of people with no disability. Data on people with disabilities covers those between the ages of 16 to 64 who do not live in institutions.

U.S. Disability Employment Profile
Statistic
With Disability
Without Disability
 
Feb.
2016
Feb.
2017
Feb.
2016
Feb.
2017
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
19.5
20.4
68.2
68.4
Employment-Population Ratio
17.1
18.3
64.9
65.2
Unemployment Rate
12.5
10.2
4.9
4.7
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

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