Friday, September 20, 2019

Federal Funds can be Used to Support Dual Enrollment, Postsecondary Options for Students and Youth with Disabilities

Secretary DeVos Makes Clear Federal Funds can be Used to Support Dual Enrollment, Postsecondary Options for Students and Youth with Disabilities


Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.
US Department of Education
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Sep. 17, 2019
Contact: Press Office
(202) 401-1576 or press@ed.gov

Secretary DeVos Makes Clear Federal Funds can be Used to Support Dual Enrollment, Postsecondary Options for Students and Youth with Disabilities

WASHINGTON— U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today made clear that vocational rehabilitation (VR) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition and other postsecondary education programs for students and youth with disabilities. The Department produced a question and answer (Q&A) guide after the Secretary heard from the field there was confusion about whether and when these funds could be used to help students and youth with disabilities access these valuable educational options.
“All students deserve the freedom to pursue an education that is challenging and allows them to reach their full potential,” said Secretary DeVos. “I hope this information will make clear what the law says and serve as a resource to families, Individualized Education Program (IEP) Teams and State VR agencies as they continue to collaborate and find ways to increase postsecondary opportunities – and success – for students and youth with disabilities.”
Issued jointly by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), the Q&A document describes how State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and State VR agencies may coordinate to assist students and youth with disabilities, including students and youth with intellectual disabilities, in preparing for postsecondary success. The document reinforces the appropriate use of funds under the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
The Q&A will be released today by Johnny Collett, Assistant Secretary for OSERS, at an Education Freedom Tour stop at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) . While at UMKC, Assistant Secretary Collett will visit the Propel Program, a transition program for young adults with intellectual developmental disabilities that allows students an opportunity to explore employment and education on a major university campus.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that students and youth with disabilities are held to high expectations and have the resources and supports needed to expand their learning opportunities and prepare them for success in postsecondary education or careers,” said Collett.
Specifically, the Q&A addresses the following topics:
  • The opportunity for students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs while still in high school;
  • The opportunity for students and youth with disabilities to enroll in comprehensive transition and other postsecondary programs for individuals with disabilities after leaving high school;
  • The coordination of transition-related services that students with disabilities may receive under the IDEA and under the VR program; and
  • The financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities offered at Institutions of Higher Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.
The full Q&A is available here: Link
View OSERS Rethink Framework here
###

No Surprises Act

from National Family Voices:

Surprise Medical Bills
As with prescription drug prices, lawmakers seem serious about protecting consumers from surprise medical bills, but there are different approaches to doing so. In both the House and Senate, bipartisan bills have been reported out of relevant committees. In the Senate, the Lower Health Care Costs Act (S. 1895) was sponsored by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). In the House, the No Surprises Act (H.R. 3630) was sponsored by House Energy & Commerce (E&C) Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR). See Pallone-Walden press release. As explained in a blog post from the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Senate bill would essentially tie out-of-network charges to a federal benchmark of median in-network rates for a geographic area. The House bill would use that method with back-up arbitration between insurers and providers. But hospitals and doctors prefer an arbitration-only approach. (It has been discovered that unidentified television ads have been funded by private equity firms that own physician groups that contract with hospitals for ER and other services.) Two other committees also have jurisdiction in the House - the Ways & Means Committee and the Education & Labor Committee. The latter has postponed a tentative meeting due to divisions among its members about which approach to take. See House Panel Delays Vote on Surprise Medical Bills Legislation (The Hill, 9/17/19).

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Information about Medical Deferred Action

from National Family Voices:
 
Medical Deferred Action
For many years, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been responsible for considering "deferred action" requests from individuals who have a special reason to stay in the US, such as sick children undergoing medical treatment and their families. Deferred action allows someone to stay in the country even if they would otherwise be subject to deportation, before any deportation proceedings are instituted.
 

In August, USCIS field offices began to send letters to people who were applying or re-applying for deferred action to tell them that the agency would no longer be processing these requests, and that they would be subject to deportation proceedings if they did not leave the country within 33 days. It is still possible for someone to be granted a stay (waiver) from deportation during the deportation process, which is conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency of DHS. The letters did not mention this, however, and ICE said it had not been aware of the USCIS policy change and would not be changing its own policies so that people could get deferments prior to the commencement of deportation proceedings. See Feds Can't Agree On Which Agency - If Any - Handles Medical Deportation Deferrals (WBUR, 8/28/19). After negative publicity - see, e.g., Immigrant Children with Life-Threatening Illnesses Facing Possible Deportation (CBS News, 8/28/219) - USCIS announced on September 2 that it would continue to process deferred action requests that were pending as of August 7, but would not do so for other requests. On September 11, the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on this issue. The administration has not made any further announcements about the matter.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Defending Against Medicaid Block Grants

from Community Catalyst:

Today, the state of Tennessee released a proposal to block grant the TennCare program, signaling a new existential threat to Medicaid and to those who rely on the program for their health coverage. For months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been rumored to be developing new guidance inviting states to block grant Medicaid– and while CMS has yet to act, the Tennessee administration is taking the bait. Tennessee's proposal undoubtedly means cuts to Medicaid, potentially harming the health and well-being of tens of thousands of Tennesseans.

In anticipation of this threat to Medicaid, the Together for Medicaid team worked with the communications firm GMMB to develop a new communications toolkit: Defending Against Block Grants and Other Cuts to Medicaid. The toolkit provides effective communications tools for state health advocates and their partners to speak out against these harmful changes to Medicaid.
 
Download our toolkit: Defending Against Block Grants and Other Cuts to Medicaid
While these developments are new, Medicaid opponents have been pushing for block grants in Medicaid for years, including most recently during the 2017 ACA repeal fight. We have beat back this threat before and we can do it again. These proposals threaten expansion and non-expansion states alike – if states like Tennessee that have not even closed the coverage gap are able to restructure their traditional Medicaid program all states are potentially at risk.

All of us must do our part now to push back against these devastating cuts.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities

from OSERS:

Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success
for Students and Youth with Disabilities

The Department issued a Questions and Answers document (Q&A), with an accompanying Appendix, on the dual enrollment of students with disabilities in secondary school and postsecondary education institutions, including comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities. The Q&A and Appendix describe how State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies may coordinate to assist students and youth with disabilities, including students and youth with intellectual disabilities, at postsecondary education institutions through appropriate supports funded under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
The following topics are addressed:
  • The opportunity for students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs while still in high school;
  • The opportunity for students and youth with disabilities to enroll in comprehensive transition and other postsecondary programs for individuals with disabilities after leaving high school;
  • The coordination of transition-related services that students with disabilities may receive under the IDEA and under the VR program; and
  • The financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities offered at Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Key Medicaid Protection Is at Stake

A Key Medicaid Protection Is at Stake

from The Arc of the US:
 
Every day, Medicaid supports millions of people with disabilities to live independently in their community.
 
However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to significantly weaken an existing rule that makes sure that Medicaid reimbursement rates are enough to allow people to access services and supports that they need.
Background: If reimbursement rates are below costs, providers will not want to participate or will not be able to provide high quality services. This means that people will not be served or will be put on waiting lists. Inadequate reimbursement rates can also mean low wages and high turnover rates for direct support professionals (DSPs). The work of DSPs is invaluable to the disability community and the service system that relies on their abilities to keep people out of institutions. You can learn more about the proposed rule here.
Submit your comments now!
We must tell CMS that it should expand and improve - not weaken - the current rule, so that no one will have to go without services and supports. CMS needs to hear from individuals with disabilities, parents, family members, advocates, and service providers that this is a critical issue!
There is still time to send a message to CMS. They will be accepting comments until September 13. That means we only have two days to send in as many comments as possible to stop the rule from being implemented and ask CMS to strengthen the existing rule.
Fill in your information here and you will be brought to a page with draft comments that you can personalize and submit directly to CMS.
Thank you for your advocacy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Medicare-for-All? Public Option? What Does It All Mean for Low-Income Individuals?

All major Democratic candidates agree that the ultimate goal of any health care reform proposal should be universal health care coverage, but disagree about the best way to get there. Some believe the best option is to add a public option, thereby capitalizing on the coverage and affordability gains achieved by the Affordable Care Act, while others believe that exchanging our current fragmented system of insurance for a new single-payer system is the appropriate pathway to lower costs and increased consumer protections. The remainder of the field have staked out ground along the continuum. The general opportunities and trade-offs inherent in these various proposals have taken center stage, discussed extensively both in policy circles and at kitchen tables across the country.

65 million low-income Americans might be affected

As these debates wage, an essential question has often been absent from the conversation: What do these proposals mean for the 65 million low-income individuals in this country – essentially one in five – that receive their insurance through Medicaid?
The answer is a perhaps unsatisfying: “It depends.” Undoubtedly, regardless of the proposal being promoted, we should strive to ensure that all individuals have access to quality health care services. But to the extent universal health care proposals intend to replace Medicaid, drafters need to understand what elements are critical for the populations Medicaid serves, and ensure that those features are both included, and protected in any new legislative proposals.

Medicaid provides benefits to low-income individuals and families not covered by insurance

Low-income and underserved individuals and families have unique needs, and Medicaid includes specific benefits, rights, and protections targeted to meet those needs. For example, Medicaid guarantees transportation to medical appointments (usually in the form of bus fare or van rides). This benefit is practically unheard of in employer-sponsored insurance, but in Medicaid it is mandatory. For most people, a two-dollar bus fare is not a barrier to health care; but for those without two dollars, it is–and can result in delay or postponement of necessary services.
Other essential features unique to Medicaid include strict affordability protections, robust due process rights, and the coverage of comprehensive benefits, including the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit for children and home and community based services (HCBS)—just to name a few.
Universal health care proposals that replace or significantly reform Medicaid must explicitly guarantee the benefits and protections that currently exist for low-income individuals in Medicaid. It is vital that the needs of these populations be part of the ongoing conversations in order to ensure that new health reform coverage proposals do not harm Medicaid enrollees.

NHelp developed a set of Universal Health Care Guideposts and Principles

To that end, the National Health Law Program has developed a set of Universal Health Care Guideposts and Principles. These guideposts and principles will form the basis for our analysis and evaluation of all universal health care proposals moving forward, as they set forth what we believe are the minimum guarantees that all policies should include to protect the rights of low-income individuals. We encourage health care advocates to use these, or similar, guideposts and principles to evaluate proposals at the federal and state level. For more information, please contact Héctor Hernández-Delgado or Jennifer Lav.