National Disability Institute's Washington Insider

National Disability Institute's Washington Insider is a monthly newsletter highlighting key federal policy news that impacts the financial futures and economic empowerment of all people with disabilities. The Washington Insider tracks legislative and policy initiatives gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, specifically in the areas of taxation, asset building and economic development.


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September 2017 | Vol. 9, Issue 8
Graham-Cassidy Health Care Proposal Threatens Medicaid
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Releases Guidance on ABLE Accounts
Report Finds Adults of Color with Disabilities Remain Below the Bottom Rung of the Economic Ladder
National Disability Institute Joins Other Disability Groups in Opposing Request to Rescind WIOA Rules
August Employment Profile


Graham-Cassidy Health Care Proposal Threatens Medicaid

A new health care proposal, dubbed the “Graham-Cassidy” proposal, once again aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and fundamentally alter the funding mechanism of the Medicaid program. Due to the rushed introduction of the legislation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet been given adequate time to provide members of the Senate, and the public at large, with a comprehensive analysis of the bill. That being said, initial examination of the proposal suggests massive cuts to the Medicaid program as a result of block granting and various caps. The Medicaid program is essential to individuals with disabilities because of the wide array of supports and services that the program provides, including employment-related supports and supports that allow individuals with disabilities to live independently in the community.

National Disability Institute (NDI) has been standing alongside the larger disability community in an effort to educate members of the Senate about the largely irreversible consequences of the current proposal. However, it is of utmost importance that Senate members hear from you in the next 24-48 hours, as they will need to vote for this proposal by the end of the month. Below are instructions on how to find and contact your Senators. We, at NDI, strongly encourage you to act now: the future of people with disabilities could be decided within the next couple days, if not sooner.

How to Find Your Senators

Follow this link to find out who your Senators are and learn how to contact them. Remember, every state has two Senators – be sure to contact them both!

How to Communicate with Your Senators

There are several ways that you can contact your Senators, and we encourage you to utilize them all:

  • Call your Senator’s Washington, D.C. office
  • Call your Senator’s district office
  • Email your Senator
  • Use social media to communicate with your Senator (ex. tweet @ your Senator)

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Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Releases Guidance on ABLE Accounts

This past month, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to State Medicaid Directors regarding the “Implications of the ABLE Act for State Medicaid Programs.” National Disability Institute (NDI) is pleased to see that the vast majority of the guidance acts to reinforce the language, spirit and congressional intent of the ABLE Act to ensure that ABLE accounts should “supplement, but not supplant” public benefits being provided to the ABLE account owner, including supports and services provided by the Medicaid program.

The contents of the letter are divided into the following topics:

  • Treatment of Funds in an ABLE Account
  • Contributions to ABLE Accounts
    • Contributions by Third Party
    • Contributions by the ABLE Account Beneficiary
    • Contribution by Third Party who Apply for Medicaid
  • Distributions from ABLE Accounts
    • Treatment of Distributions Exceeding QDEs for Non-MAGI Determinations
    • Treatment of Distributions Exceeding QDEs for MAGI Determinations
  • Post-Eligibility Treatment of Income
  • Transfer of ABLE Funds to State Estate Recovery.

For initial highlights, and to read the CMS letter, visit the ABLE National Resource Center website.

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Report Finds Adults of Color with Disabilities Remain Below the Bottom Rung of the Economic Ladder

Last week, National Disability Institute (NDI) released the new report, Financial Inequality: Disability, Race and Poverty in America, during a breakout session at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2017 Annual Legislative Conference. The report explores the prevalence of disability by race, the changing rate of disability by age and race and the impact of race and disability on educational attainment, employment, banking status, health insurance, medical debt and food insecurity.

Report highlights include:

  • African Americans are more likely to have a disability than any other demographic group (14 percent);
  • Nearly 40 percent of African Americans with disabilities live in poverty, as compared with 24 percent of non-Hispanic Whites;
  • African Americans with a disability are more than two times more likely to not have graduated high school than African Americans without disabilities (25 percent v 11 percent);
  • Only one in four African Americans with disabilities are employed, as compared to African Americans without disabilities who are employed (25 percent v 70 percent); and
  • Two-thirds of African American families with a disability are unbanked or underbanked.

A digital copy of Financial Inequality: Disability, Race and Poverty in America is available for download in the Document Library section of the NDI website.

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National Disability Institute Joins Other Disability Groups in Opposing Request to Rescind WIOA Rules

Our previous Washington Insider reported on a group of 45 Republican members of the House of Representatives who recently sent a letter to the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, expressing their concern over a final rule regarding the definition of “Competitive Integrated Employment” found in Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The letter made the claim that the definition provided through regulatory and sub-regulatory guidance, established by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), is having a prohibitive effect on various vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies’ ability to refer individuals with disabilities into AbilityOne programs. The letter concluded by requesting that the Secretary rescind such guidance to alleviate the suggested negative effects on both VR agencies and AbilityOne programs.

National Disability Institute (NDI), having long championed advancing opportunities for competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities, instead of segregated sub-minimum wage situations and environments, took great issue with the request to rescind the recently published guidance. Since last month’s Washington Insider, NDI has worked closely with several other disability related organizations to develop a letter expressing support for the current definition within the WIOA rules and encouraging Sec. DeVos to not rescind the guidance.

Read a copy of the letter sent to Secretary DeVos.

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August Employment Profile

Disability employment statistics for August 2017 show that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 8.4 percent. This shows a 2.9 percent decrease from August 2016. The latest employment statistics also find that only 20.5 percent of people with disabilities are actively in the labor force, as compared to 68.8 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
With Disability
Without Disability
Percent of Population in the Labor Force
Employment-Population Ratio
Unemployment Rate
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-6

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National Disability Institute


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