Federal

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Today, we received the following alert from one of our national associations. Please contact both Senators Casey and Toomey.

ancor

The full Senate will vote very soon on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which has already passed out of the Finance Committee, in an attempt to overhaul the federal tax code. While ANCOR does not have a position on tax reform, we have key positions on how tax reform may impact our services. Given these principles and a Senate tax reform vote as soon as next week, we believe it is important to speak up about the importance of Medicaid to people with I/DD before the Senate votes on this legislation.

Please contact your Senators TODAY and tell them that you cannot support the legislation in its current form because:

  • The changes proposed to the charitable tax deduction reduce the ability of nonprofit disability service providers to fund important services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
  • As the only other federal support for Medicaid long term services and supports, the House passed legislation removing the medical expense deduction could put significant strain on the Medicaid program that serves people with I/DD.
  • The changes to the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) impact the ability of nonprofit providers and their associations to maintain limited but important revenues.
  • The changes to state and local taxes would have a negative impact on certain states that obtain significant funding from these taxes for services for people with I/DD.
  • The House legislation’s elimination of tax breaks on bond financing could significantly undermine the financing for affordable housing for people with I/DD.
  • The addition of $1.5 trillion to the national debt may be used to justify future cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security which are the main federal programs that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Click here to send an email directly to your Senators! Please do not put this off — a full Senate vote could happen soon after the Thanksgiving holiday.

This position is in keeping with the Board-approved ANCOR tax reform principles that we adopted at the beginning of this debate.

ANCOR Tax Reform Principles

  1. Any process that includes changes to Medicaid should be accomplished through a process that affords sufficient opportunity for legislators, advocates, and constituents to review and provide feedback on the proposal and legislative language prior to passage.
  2. Individual or corporate tax cuts or expenditures must not be paid for by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, or other mandatory or discretionary programs that promote independence, inclusion, and community living for people with disabilities.
  3. Tax reform should not decrease revenue to an extent that revenue is insufficient to continue to fund the programs and services and supports for people with disabilities at current levels or above.
  4. The charitable deduction should be maintained and improved for the non-profit sector which provides the majority of services and supports for people with disabilities.
  5. Unrelated business income tax should be held harmless to protect the vital role of nonprofits and associations in the disability services sector.

Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. Should you have any questions or need more information, please contact Sarah Meek, ANCOR’s Director of Legislative Affairs, or Jack Phillips, RCPA’s Director of Government Affairs.

RCPA received the following email from the Senate Aging Committee in Washington, DC. Please contact both Senators Casey and Toomey and your Congressman.

“Welcome back to health care by way of a tax bill.

This afternoon both the Senate and the House added to their tax bills a provision to repeal a key component of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate to obtain health insurance. Repealing this provision would have significant negative effects for people with disabilities, families of children with disabilities, and those who are aging.

  • Repealing the individual mandate will mean 13.8 million people will lose health care coverage (according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office); hundreds of thousands of those individuals have disabilities).
  • The repeal of the individual mandate will increase health insurance premiums for those purchasing coverage on the exchange by at least 10% per year for the unforeseeable future (also according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office); these premium increases will occur in addition to the increases that are occurring because the executive branch has decided to stop supporting cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments that have driven premiums up by an average of over 20% this year.
  • The repeal of the individual mandate will save approximately $330 billion over ten years that will go toward paying for a cut in corporate taxes and a cut to the tax rate for the most wealthy Americans (according to the CBO).

This new, last minute, major addition to the tax bills will have enormous impact on those with disabilities. In combination with the budget that passed three weeks ago and outlines over $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and over $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, the proposed tax cuts and repeal of key provisions of the ACA will increase demand for Medicaid, decrease the funds available for home and community-based services and supports, and reduce the amount of revenue available to states to pay and support Medicaid.

While the tax bill does not directly cut Medicaid, the actions it takes will have the same or even worse effect on Medicaid and other services and supports for people with disabilities. If the House tax bill were to pass:

  • Deductions for medical expenses could not be used to decrease your taxes;
  • It would eliminate a $2,400 tax credit businesses could get when hiring someone with a disability;
  • It would eliminate a $5,000 tax credit for businesses that make their businesses accessible to people with disabilities;
  • It would eliminate the incentive to contribute to nonprofit agencies that often provide support for people with disabilities and their families; and
  • It would remove a tax credit for companies to develop and manufacture orphan drugs.

The assault on people with disabilities and their families is continuing, this time through a tax bill instead of through a health bill. And this is happening quickly with very little coverage. The Senate Finance Committee will likely vote on this bill Thursday or Friday of THIS week.

You can help by:

  • Contacting your Senators and Representatives and telling them the tax bills being considered are an attack on people with disabilities; and
  • Share this information with friends and family.

Thank you for your continued advocacy. Thank you for working to ensure dignity, independence, and economic sufficiency for people with disabilities.”

Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director, Government Affairs.

Overdose deaths from heroin and prescription drug abuse pose a public health crisis. In 2016, 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths were reported in Pennsylvania – an increase of 37 percent from 2015 – and every day 13 Pennsylvanians die of a drug overdose.

Yesterday, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This declaration will allow states to redirect federal funds to the opioid crisis. However, it provides no new federal funding. RCPA was pleased to learn that President Trump proposed relaxing the Institutions of Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion for inpatient substance use disorder treatment. The IMD exclusion, which bars Medicaid payment for services delivered in certain facilities with 16 or more beds, has been a major barrier against patients accessing treatment. Pennsylvania officials have stated on numerous occasions that they clearly understand the severity of the IMD exclusion and are working on numerous ways to resolve the problem. Trump’s announcement will likely make that easier to accomplish. This announcement may also allow for expanded access to telemedicine, including remote prescribing for medication-assisted treatment.

Governor Wolf stated that “President Trump’s decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency is an important step, but this is only the beginning.” He added that “Without a commitment to fund the crisis in specific ways, it’s difficult to say how much this declaration can do. While an awareness of this critical health emergency is important, an increased availability of grant money would help. Every effort to fund treatment, including medication-assisted treatment options, should be explored.”

Pennsylvania has numerous efforts underway to respond to this crisis. Governor Tom Wolf announced at the end of September that Pennsylvania, through its Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), had been awarded a $5.7 million Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, to help in the state’s ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic. The US Department of Health and Human Services also awarded Pennsylvania a $26.5 million grant, funded by the 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2016. Pennsylvania will soon award four $1 million federal PA Coordinated MAT grants to providers in Pennsylvania, via the 21st Century CURES grant funding. Over the next two years, the grant is intended to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. In addition, 45 Centers of Excellence (COE) have been implemented to better initiate people into — and keep them engaged in — treatment. DDAP is also working to expand the “warm handoff” process to get overdose survivors directly into treatment. DDAP has implemented a hotline to direct people needing help with treatment (800-662-HELP).

RCPA members have welcomed these initiatives, but members continue to emphasize the need for more funding for basic services. Many rates provided do not even cover the full cost of treatment; the drug and alcohol program has been chronically underfunded for many years. Increased capacity and improved access must be fully funded and that will take new and additional resources. Persons and families struggling for help with an opioid addiction should not have to wait for beds/placements — it is a matter of life or death.

Contact Lynn Cooper, RCPA Director, Drug & Alcohol Division, with any questions.

On October 26, 2017, the Energy & Commerce Committee and the Ways and Means Committee announced in a press release that they have come to a policy agreement on a permanent repeal of the Medicare therapy caps. The policy/discussion draft will repeal the therapy caps, continue to require an appropriate modifier is included on claims submitted over the new threshold (indicating the services are medically necessary), and continue targeted medical review of claims established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

Background:
In 2006, Congress created an exceptions process allowing patients to exceed the cap based on medical necessity. The cap was addressed most recently in 2015 with MACRA (H.R. 2), becoming law. A provision in H.R. 2 established targeted medical review of therapy caps and extended the therapy cap exceptions process until January 1, 2018.

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The means by which Senate Republicans can pass an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal/replace bill by a simple majority budget process called reconciliation (and thus not requiring Democratic support of any kind) ends next week, at the end of September.

The Graham/Cassidy bill is now presenting a major threat to Medicaid – it replicates cuts presented in previous health proposals (using exact language from the Better Care Reconciliation Act – BCRA). According to earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, it will cut Medicaid (outside of expansion) by $175 billion between 2020–2026, and $39 billion will be cut from the Medicaid program in 2026 alone.

RCPA requests members to contact Senators Casey and Toomey, and ask them to OPPOSE the Graham/Cassidy bill. For your convenience, the following materials will give you valuable information and talking points when speaking with staff or the Senators.

Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director, Government Affairs.

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Please join Sen. Bob Casey (PA) as he addresses the Graham-Cassidy proposal and the effects on Medicaid, adults with disabilities, children with complex health needs, schools, veterans, and those who are aging. Details for joining below:

What: Conference call with Sen. Bob Casey
When: Friday, September 22, 5:45 pm–6:15 pm EDT
Call in number: 866-317-5076, no PIN or ID necessary
No RSVP necessary

Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director, Government Affairs

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ALERT – Act Now to Stop Irreparable Medicaid Cuts!
Latest Available data on Graham/Cassidy

The next few days are critical!
Call Congress at (202) 224 3121 and
click here to send your Senators an email to VOTE NO.

The process by which Senate Republicans can pass an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal/replace bill by a simple majority budget process called reconciliation (and thus not requiring Democratic support of any kind) ends next week, at the end of September.

The Graham/Cassidy bill is now presenting a major threat to Medicaid – it replicates cuts presented in previous health proposals (using exact language from the Better Care Reconciliation Act – BCRA). According to earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, it will cut Medicaid (outside of expansion) by $175 billion between 2020-2026, and $39 billion will be cut from the Medicaid program in 2026 alone.

The situation has gotten worse. Last night, Chairman Alexander (R-TN) of the Senate HELP Committee who was leading bipartisan ACA fix efforts announced that the bipartisan deal is dead. That leaves the door wide open for Graham/Cassidy passage. Republican Senators are being told that the bill will benefit their state – that is false. This is a bill that seeks to save billions of federal dollars, not make policy improvements to health care programs.

The ACA will be replaced by block grants with likely less funding to states than they currently receive. and all of that money stops flowing completely to states in 10 years. The Medicaid program will be cut significantly and states will be expected to either pick up the bill or make tough decisions about whose lives are most at stake.

So here’s the timeline:

There are two Jewish holidays in the next two weeks that shorten the Senate session calendar. Today, Senators leave to observe Rosh Hashanah and will return Monday. They will have to pass a bill by Wednesday or Thursday because Yom Kippur (also observed by the Senate) begins at sundown next Thursday.

We will soon see a new Congressional Budget Office summary on the impact of Graham/Cassidy, and we expect the bill to be pushed hard next week to get to passage. We need three Republican Senators to oppose the bill in order for it to fail. Key Senators that could stop the bill are the same champions that ANCOR has awarded Congressional Leadership Awards to this year for defending our programs – Senator McCain (R-AZ), Senator Collins (R-ME), and Senator Murkowski (R-AK). Please make sure that if you are a constituent, or have connections in their states, that they hear from you!

IF YOU LIVE OR HAVE FRIENDS, FAMILY, OR COLLEAGUES IN STATES WITH REPUBLICAN SENATORS THEY MUST HEAR FROM US THAT THE GRAHAM/CASSIDY BILL WILL CREATE IRREPARABLE HARM TO PROGRAMS THAT PROTECT PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES!

THE NUMBERS ARE CLEAR THAT THIS IS A BAD DEAL FOR STATES! MAKE SURE YOUR REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVES IN THE HOUSE ARE RECEIVING THE SAME MESSAGE!

Capitol  Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Graham/Cassidy Text

  • Medicaid per capita cap section begins Section 124, page 65
  • Provider tax reduction is Section 123, page 64
  • Penalization to states that overspend, page 66
  • Per capita formula base period, page 68
  • Per capita formula inflation rate (CPI-M+1% until 2026 then CPI-M), page 76

Limited HCBS demo (we have intel this is for fear that per capita caps will end some state HCBS programs and need demo money to survive), page 96

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The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) is seeking comments from the public concerning the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime exemptions regulations. As you may recall, the Obama Administration wanted to increase the overtime threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. At the time, RCPA submitted comments to the Department of Labor objecting to the increase. RCPA also presented testimony in front of the Pennsylvania State Senate regarding the impact that the DOL’s Overtime Exemption Rule would have on health and human service providers in Pennsylvania.

Before the rule took effect, a federal judge issued an injunction halting the FLSA rule. The judge granted the injunction because the FLSA rule “exceeded its delegated authority and ignored Congress’ intent such that it supplants the duties test.” (The duties test refers to one of the conditions that determines which workers are exempt from overtime rules.)

You may submit comments on the Federal Register’s website. Questions, contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs.

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A new Request for Information (RFI) has been released by the US Department of Labor. This RFI pertains to the overtime rule that defines those employees exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In order to gather information to consider when deciding if and how to revise the regulation, the agency is requesting comments from the public.