Saturday, October 7, 2017

Reconciliation may be back soon ... this time for both tax and Medicaid cuts

ALSO: Caregiver bill passes Senate; advocates worry about bill that cuts SSI benefits

Federal news from The Arc and other advocates
Budget & Appropriations

House passes budget resolution, setting the stage for tax and (more) Medicaid legislation

The House passed its fiscal year 2018 Budget Resolution on Thursday, October 5. It includes plans to reform Medicaid, cut spending, and enact tax reform. It incorporates the House-passed American Health Care Act.

Next up is the Senate. If both chambers pass an identical budget resolution bill, Congress can proceed with reconciliation again. This means tax cuts and Medicaid and Medicare reform can pass with a simple majority (51 votes) in the Senate.

The Arc opposes the House Budget Resolution.

Budget & Appropriations

Senate releases FY 2018 budget resolution

The Senate Budget Committee released its Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on September 29. The budget resolution is a 10-year spending and revenue blueprint for the federal government.

The Senate Budget Committee's budget resolution bill contains reconciliation instructions that will allow the finance committee to develop tax reform legislation that increases the deficit by to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. In addition, the budget resolution includes reserve funds for legislation to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, extend the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and ensure "state flexibility" in education, among other things.

The budget resolution is expected to be marked up in committee the week of Oct.9 and brought to the full Senate in mid-October.

The Arc is concerned that the budget resolution will open the door for Congress to try again to limit health care and cut the Medicaid program, as well as provide large tax cuts that result in the need to cut Medicaid and other programs down the road to pay for them.

Social Security

House passes bill to cut off basic income for adults with disabilities and seniors

Last week, the House of Representatives voted 244 to 171 to revive a former policy that cuts off Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for certain people with disabilities and seniors.

As amended and approved by the House, H.R. 2792 would revive a former policy targeting SSI recipients with old, outstanding arrest warrants for alleged felonies or alleged violations of probation or parole. This former policy ended following the resolution of class action litigation. Federal law already prohibits payment of SSI benefits to people fleeing from law enforcement to avoid prosecution or imprisonment, and the Social Security Administration has a process in place to notify law enforcement of the whereabouts of such individuals.

Based on experience with the former policy, H.R. 2792 would not help law enforcement to secure arrests, but instead would target people whose cases are inactive and whom law enforcement is not pursuing. Anecdotally, a very high percentage of people affected by the former policy were people with mental impairments, including people with intellectual disability.

The Arc opposes this bill.

Family Support 

RAISE family caregivers act passes senate

On September 27, the Senate passed The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act by unanimous consent.

This bipartisan legislation calls for the development of a national strategy to support the nation's more than 40 million caregivers. It would bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sector to create an advisory body. This advisory body would then develop recommendations for how government, communities, providers, employers, and others can better recognize and support family caregivers.

The next step is for the House to pass its version of the bill, H.R. 3759, out of committee. The Arc encourages advocates to ask their representative to join the list of co-sponsors.