Federal Legislative Update from the ARC/President's Comments on AT
fpennell at u.washington.edu
Mon Feb 5 13:02:14 PST 2001
I thought some of you might be interested in the following legislative
update from the ARC. It includes a brief summary of the President's
comments re federal policy on assistive technology. In his comments on
the Freedom Initiative, Bush commits to increased funding for low interest
loans to help with the purchase of assistive technology and to increased
investment in research on assistive technology. You can find his
comments at www.whitehouse.gov. Francie Pennell
Frances E. Pennell, J.D.
Washington Assistive Technology Foundation
The Capitol Insider
Weekly News and Information from our Nation's Capital
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February 5, 2001, Volume 6, Issue 6
MAJOR EVENTS LAST WEEK
* President Bush announced his disability policy agenda, entitled the "New
Freedom Initiative" at a White House ceremony attended by a number of
disability advocates, including Paul Marchand. Key components include:
increasing access to assistive and universally designed technologies;
expanding educational opportunities; promoting homeownership; integrating
Americans with disabilities into the workforce; expanding transportation
options; and promoting full access to community life. The entire document
can be retrieved on-line at www.whitehouse.gov.
* After several contentious weeks, former U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.)
was confirmed as Attorney General by a Senate vote of 58-42. All
Republican Senators voted in favor of Ashcroft; all but eight Democrats
voted against it. He was sworn in shortly after the vote by Supreme Court
Justice Thomas. This action completes the Bush Cabinet.
* The Bush Administration has allowed the new regulations regarding the
substantial gainful activity (SGA) level to go into effect as originally
planned. The new regulations apply to work beginning Jan. 1, 2001. The
final rule establishes a formula for automatically adjusting the SGA level
each year when other Social Security amounts are automatically increased.
The new SGA level for 2001 is $740. This regulation also increases the
level of monthly earnings that trigger use of a trial work period (TWP)
month in the Title II disability programs. The new level for counting a
TWP month is $530 and the level will be annually indexed for inflation.
A more detailed memo was emailed to state chapters and The Arc's Action
* The Arc's Board of Directors adopted the 2001 Legislative Goals last
weekend. The new goals will now be published, mailed to all state chapters
and Members of Congress and be posted on The Arc's home page.
MAJOR EVENTS THIS WEEK
* The Family Opportunity Act will be reintroduced by last year's four
major sponsors at a Capitol Hill press conference on Thur., Feb. 8. The
original sponsors are Sens. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kennedy (D-Mass.) and
Reps. Sessions (R-Texas) and Waxman (D-Calif.). Their continued
collaboration clearly shows that this is a bill with bipartisan support.
Since Sen. Grassley is now Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (with
jurisdiction over FOA), it is hoped that the bill will move quickly. An
Action Alert and a request for "Personal Stories" was sent to state
chapters of The Arc today.
* The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel will meet in
Bethesda, MD Tues. through Thurs. (Feb. 6-8). The Panel will hear public
testimony on the proposed Ticket program rules and develop its preliminary
comments on the proposed regulations (published Dec. 28, 2000).
* Safeguards for Individuals with Special Health Care Needs Enrolled in
Medicaid Managed Care -- the long awaited Health Care Financing
Administration report on Medicaid managed care and people with
disabilities -- has been finally been released. It is available on the
HCFA web-page at www.hcfa.gov/medicaid/omchmpg.htm. Advocacy by The Arc
and other groups led to Congress directing HCFA (in the 1997 Balanced
Budget Act) to look at this issue. Kathy McGinley of the Governmental
Affairs Office participated in the report work group.
* The Arc participated in the congressional kick-off of a free national
health policy web-site -- Kaisernetwork.org. This site offers
comprehensive and up-to-date health policy information on a broad range of
subjects. Some of the features are daily news summaries; information on
health-related polling data; and HealthCast -- regular live and archived
on-line webcasts of key meetings, conferences, and hearings on health
issues. Individuals can sign up on-line at www.kaisernetwork.org/email to
receive daily reports and updates.
* The next Governmental Affairs conference call is scheduled for today at
4 p.m. (ET). To join the free call, dial 1-800-882-3610; enter code
number 4348 and the pound sign.
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