The Arc of the United States applauds the House of Representative’s passage of the historic health care reform legislation that is certain to rank among the top domestic legislative achievements of this generation. “This legislation will bring about comprehensive health care reform that will benefit nearly all Americans while reducing the federal deficit. We are extremely pleased that the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, passed by the House and Senate, contains numerous provisions of importance to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.
- Prohibiting private health insurance exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
- Eliminating annual and lifetime caps in private insurance policies.
- Restricting the consideration of health status in setting premiums.
- Expanding Medicaid to cover individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (approximately $29,000 per year for a family of four).
- Ensuring that minimum covered benefits include products and services that enable people with disabilities to maintain and improve function, such as rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices.
Access to Quality Care
- Improving training of physicians, dentists and allied health professionals on how to treat persons with disabilities.
- Requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to collect data on beneficiaries with disabilities, access to primary care services and the level to which primary care service providers have been trained on disability issues.
- Ensuring prevention programs include a focus on individuals with disabilities.
Long-Term Services and Supports
- Increasing the federal share of Medicaid, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (or FMAP), for home and community-based services (HCBS) and during periods of economic downturn.
- Allowing states to offer additional services under the 1915(i) Medicaid HCBS Waivers State Plan Option.
- Providing spousal impoverishment protections for HCBS beneficiaries.
- Strengthening long-term services and supports through a two-pronged approach:
- Taking pressure off of the Medicaid program: The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would create a national long-term services insurance program, which assists eligible individuals and their families to meet long-term needs with a cash benefit and without forcing them into poverty to receive Medicaid benefits.
- Improving the Medicaid program: The Community First Choice Option would help to eliminate the institutional bias by encouraging states to cover personal attendant services under the state’s optional service plan instead of through the waiver system by offering a 6% increase in the federal share of Medicaid for these services.
Cindy Johnson, Chair of the Public Policy Committee of The Arc and a member of its national board said, “People with disabilities—especially young people—can look to a future free from the discrimination of being denied coverage due to preexisting conditions.” Johnson, who is a parent and a sibling to individuals with disabilities, added “this legislation is a relief for families and represents the hope we have that our needs will be met. We are grateful to the advocates and the legislators who fought to have these provisions included.”
The Arc greatly looks forward to President Obama’s expected signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R.3590) into law early this week. Enactment of this landmark law will result in the attainment of several of The Arc’s priority public policy goals. “We are hopeful that the subsequent consideration by the Senate this week of the Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 48772) will also be successful, resulting in fundamental and lasting improvements to the Nation’s health care system,” Berns said.
The Arc urges families with individuals with disabilities to call their congressional representatives who supported this legislation and thank them. To learn more about the impact of health care reform and other legislative priorities impacting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, register for the Disability Policy Seminar (www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org) from April 12-14, 2010, in Washington, D.C.