Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Monday, August 7, 2017
The ABLE National Resource Center (ANRC) has declared August as #ABLEtoSave month. During this month, the center will be raising awareness and providing resources relating to ABLE programs. Additionally, they are hosting a series of webinars:
- Week 1 (July 30 - August 5): Basic Overview of ABLE
- Week 2 (): Eligibility
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- Week 3 (): Qualified Disability Expenses
- Week 4 (): Financial Literacy
- Week 5 (): Enrollment
from National Family Voices:
It's congressional recess (through ) … a great time to visit your Members of Congress and/or attend public events where you might be able to talk to them. Personal visits can be extremely effective, and it’s possible you can even get a meeting with the Senator or Representative him/herself, rather than just a staffer (although staffers are important too).
At this point it is important to contact both Senators and Representatives because ACA-repeal legislation and proposed cuts to Medicaid can re-emerge in either chamber. Medicaid cuts in particular may arise in the context of a budget resolution, tax reform bills, and/or CHIP reauthorization. Although Republicans who have not supported Medicaid or the ACA should be the first priority, it’s also a good idea to contact Democrats and others who have been supportive – first to thank them (especially Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain), and second to make sure they have the information they need to bolster their positions.
Meetings. You should try to make an appointment as soon as possible, since meeting slots may not be available on short notice. Try to go with other families and children (but not a crowd) and/or representatives of other relevant organizations.
o You can find the local office addresses and phone numbers for your Representative and Senators by entering the name of your state at www.contactingcongress.org.
o I recommend reading the tips for meetings with elected officials from bothFamilies USA and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
o Families USA has a list of questions you can ask in your meeting here (specifically designed for meetings this month).
o The Center for Public Representation’s www.protectourmedicaid.org website has a script and background points here.
· Events. Attend town halls or other public events. Lists of events are available here and at https://townhallproject.com/. For tips on preparing an “elevator speech” (very short pitch) you can give to your Rep./Senator if you get a chance to talk to him/her see the tips from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
· Letters and Op-Eds. Write letters to the editor and op-eds for local newspapers. Here is some help to get you started. Don’t forget to include a little bit about your own story, or provide a couple examples from families with which you have worked.
· Social media. Continue to utilize social media as a tool. You can find social media contact info for your Members of Congress atwww.contactingcongress.org. Follow Family Voices on Twitter at@familyvoices and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/
Messages: See suggested questions from Families USA. Provide information about your state (see below).
· Hold members accountable for their votes! If they voted No, thank them and tell them why you are grateful. If they voted yes, ask them, “Why?” Tell them to you are disappointed and that you hope they will not support any bills that cut Medicaid or rollback protections for people with pre-existing conditions. REMEMBER this applies to both the House and Senate! See how your Senator voted on the three major health care votes at https://www.nytimes.com/
interactive/2017/07/25/us/ politics/senate-votes-repeal- obamacare.html. See how your Representative voted on the American Health Care Act at https://www.govtrack.us/ congress/votes/115-2017/h256. (Find your Rep. at www.house.gov).
· For both Representatives and Senators, ask them to: (1) drop their attempts at repeal of the ACA; (2) instead work together in a bi-partisan manner using the regular order for any needed healthcare solutions; and (3) take Medicaid out of the ACA conversation and oppose any bills that would cut or cap Medicaid. Talking points here.
Friday, August 4, 2017
What Every Policy Maker Needs to Know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – A Refresher
August 3, 2017 Elisabeth Wright Burak
Right now, children, families and states face grave uncertainty about CHIP’s future, since no new federal funds will be available after September without Congressional action.
Because we’ve all been mired in the Medicaid debate, it’s a good time to remind lawmakers about CHIP and its importance to kids. In turn, we are refreshing our CHIP resources and education materials. CHIP was created I997 to help states provide affordable coverage to uninsured children in middle-income families who didn’t qualify for Medicaid but for whom private coverage was out of reach. Our updated “ About CHIP page “(also as PDF primer) provides more of the basics. Here are the top things lawmakers and child health stakeholders need to know.
CHIP is a federally funded, state-administered block grant that serves nearly 9 million children during the course of a year.
CHIP allows states to offer coverage to children at higher income levels that do not qualify for Medicaid. As a result, the median income eligibility for children’s coverage in states is 255% of the federal poverty line (FPL), with states ranging from 175% FPL (Wyoming) to 405% FPL (New York). States administer CHIP with even more flexibility than in Medicaid to set income eligibility, design benefits, set cost-sharing levels, and establish enrollment procedures within broad federal parameters. Many states, notably, have designed their CHIP programs within Medicaid or nearly identical to Medicaid, particularly in terms of covered benefits. Which leads me to one of our favorite points…
CHIP works together with Medicaid to provide coverage by serving more middle income children—in many states Medicaid and CHIP are indistinguishable. CHIP and Medicaid are like peanut butter and jelly, or peas and carrots, two sides of the same coin—you take your analogy! The point is they work together. Medicaid plays the outsized children’s coverage role, with more than 37 million in the program, versus 9 million served by CHIP (See chart below). CHIP gives states the option to create a separate CHIP program that sits on top of Medicaid, extend Medicaid to children and higher income levels with funding through CHIP, or some combination of the two. In 2017, 14 states run pure CHIP-funded Medicaid extensions, 2 states run exclusively separate programs, and 34 states administer some combination of the two. What does this mean? More than half of CHIP-funded children are in Medicaid—they receive full Medicaid EPSDT benefits and are not in a separate program.
Unlike Medicaid, Congress has to come back to extend CHIP funding every few years. The longer the funding extension, the better it is for financial planning and budgeting by state policymakers and families.
In 1997, CHIP was authorized for 10 years. In 2009, Congress passed the CHIP Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which added another 4.5 years of funding, more pathways to additional funds for states reaching their limit, and new tools and incentives to reach more children and measure Medicaid and CHIP quality.
In recent years, CHIP has been subjected to a number of short-term extensions that create more financial uncertainty for families and state leaders trying to balance their budgets and meet the health care needs of residents of their states. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) extended CHIP funding for an additional two years to 2015, and the 2015 Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) extended funding through September 30, 2017 (Yes—that’s less than two months away!). The uncertainty that state CHIP directors and budget staff are facing right now is a good example of why CHIP should be extended for longer periods of time and well ahead of the funding expiration deadline. States need enough lead time to plan for the possible end of federal funds or their renewal—crafting notices to families, renewing or phasing out managed care plan contracts, seeking to connect children to other coverage sources if separate CHIP programs end…. Many states have public notice requirements for CHIP with time frames that range from 30 days to 100 days prior to implementing a change in the program. Many families, as a result, are sitting squarely in the face of this uncertainty with their children’s coverage on the line.
States receive a higher federal match for CHIP-covered/-funded children. Like Medicaid, the federal government pays a share of the cost of services for CHIP children (unlike Medicaid, of course, the federal funds are capped). Since 1997, the CHIP match rate has been about 15 percentage points higher than Medicaid, ranging from 65 to 82 percent. The ACA authorized and MACRA funded an additional 23-percentage point CHIP match boost up to a maximum of 100% in effect today. Extending this bump through 2019 as the ACA intended is another key question to consider during debate over CHIP’s extension. The National Association of State Health Program recently reported that most states are counting on this additional match through 2019.
The clock is ticking… All eyes are on Congress for next steps as September 30th approaches and lawmakers ready themselves for recess. A 5+ year, clean extension would give peace of mind to many families and states alike.
With the passage of Indiana’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) legislation, Indiana’s Treasurer of State’s office and the ABLE Authority have been working hard to develop a qualified program for our state. Earlier this month, the Treasurer of State’s office introduced INvestABLE Indiana, a new program that will help individuals with disabilities and their families save, while preserving their Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid coverage and benefits received through other federal programs.
INvestABLE allows Hoosiers with disabilities to save money without fear of losing benefits. This allows them to save for things like education, housing, assistive technology or other needed items. To qualify, a person must have the onset of disability before the age of 26 and they must also be receiving Social Security benefits.
Eligible individuals can open the account for themselves online, or have an authorized individual open an account on their behalf.
Hoosiers can find out more about INvestABLE Indiana at in.savewithable.com or by calling 888-609-3457.
DDRS is very excited for INvestABLE and the opportunity this program offers by giving those with disabilities the ability to save!
Director, Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services
Director, Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services