July 25, 2014
In This Issue
*Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee Releases Draft Spending Bill
*Courts Split on ACA Subsidies
*White House: President Signs Bill to Reauthorize, Modernize Federal Workforce Programs
*Gala Celebration at the HCBS Conference
*NASUAD: Small Correction from Last week's Friday Update
*NIA: Arthritis Advice AgePage
*ODEP: Joint Training and Employment Notice on Employment Networks
*ODEP: National Disability Employment Awareness Month Poster Now Available
*SSA: National Disability Coalition
*Congress: Senate Committee Approves Disability Treaty, Advocates Push for Floor Vote
*KFF: Web Briefing: Strategies in Four States Leading ACA Enrollment Efforts
*LEAD: Webinar: Customized Employment
*NAC: Family Caregivers and Technology
*NAMI: Employment and Mental Illness
*Briefing on Rx Response: A Disaster Response Program
*Funding Opportunities
*Job Announcements
*Just For Fun
*Friday Updates Archive

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September 15-18, 2014 

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Notable News

Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee Releases Draft Spending Bill

On June 10, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) approved a $156.8 billion fiscal year (FY) 2015 spending bill.  Frequently among the more contentious of the 12 annual spending bills, the Labor-HHS measure recommends funding levels for many critical non-defense discretionary programs, including the Older Americans Act (OAA).  


Upon approval by the Subcommittee, next steps for the bill would typically include consideration by the full Appropriations Committee.  However, no hearing date has been set, and with the August recess and November elections quickly approaching, the FY15 appropriations process is increasingly unlikely to yield a standalone FY15 Labor-HHS spending bill. 


In seeming recognition of these time and political constraints, yesterday, the Labor-HHS Subcommittee released the text of its draft bill and accompanying committee report.  This release, more than a month after the Subcommittee approved the measure by voice vote, indicates that the Appropriations Committee will not consider the bill in the near term, and will instead pursue an omnibus or short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to carry federal program funding into FY15.


Though the Senate is not expected to endorse the Labor-HHS draft bill, the measure could be a placeholder for future negotiations, and it provides valuable insight into the Subcommittee's funding priorities.  In particular, the panel rejects several cuts proposed by the Administration in its FY15 budget request, opting instead to maintain FY14 funding levels for initiatives such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG).   The measure would also provide level funding, relative to FY14, for most OAA programs.


Significantly, the bill includes $10 million to implement the Elder Justice Initiative at the Administration for Community Living (ACL). While short of the $25 million requested in the President's FY15 budget, this funding would represent the first direct appropriation for the Elder Justice Act, which was signed into law in 2010.  The committee report reveals the Subcommittee's intent that these funds be used to provide competitive grants to states to test and evaluate innovative approaches to preventing and responding to elder abuse, as well as to support the implementation of a nationwide Adult Protective Services data system, and to both research and evaluate promising violence intervention strategies. 


Citing budget constraints, the Subcommittee does not include funding for several new initiatives requested by the Administration, including the Holocaust Survivors Fund and the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA).  Nor does the bill seek to maintain current ADRC funding levels, which are set to fall by $10 million in FY15 due to the expiring mandatory dollars authorized by the ACA.


With respect to the WHCOA, the committee report contains language acknowledging ACL's commitment to moving forward with a Conference in FY15, and urges ACL to utilize existing resources with other agencies within HHS, in the White House, and across the federal government in doing so.


The House has yet to unveil a draft of its FY15 Labor-HHS bill.


To download the draft bill and committee report, click here.


To view NASAUD's FY15 budget chart, which has been updated to reflect the Senate's draft bill, please click here.

Courts Split on ACA Subsidies

This week, two U.S. appeals courts issued contradictory decisions on the availability of tax credits for those obtaining coverage through the ACA's health exchanges.  At issue in both cases is whether the subsidies may be offered through both the federal and state exchanges, or if the law limits this assistance to individuals in state-operated exchanges.


Under the ACA, each state is authorized  to set up its own exchange, but is not required to do so.  A state may instead defer to the federal government, which will establish and run the exchange on the state's behalf.  Currently, 16 states and D.C. operate their own exchanges, while the federal government administers the remaining 36.


To help consumers purchase coverage through the exchanges, the ACA directs the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  to provide premium tax credits to qualifying individuals - those with household incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level who are not otherwise eligible for coverage, such as that offered through an employer, Medicaid, or Medicare.    


The dispute over the availability of these subsidies is due to the law's ambiguous wording, which ACA supporters claim conflicts with its goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance for all Americans. Specifically, the ACA states that tax credits will be paid to low-income consumers, but explicitly references those purchasing coverage in exchanges "established by the state," saying nothing of those run by the federal government.  Were the ACA to be administered thusly, individuals living in states that have federally-facilitated exchanges would not be able to receive premium tax credits, making their coverage less affordable.


Charged with implementing this provision of the ACA, the IRS issued a regulation in May, 2012 interpreting the law to allow all eligible individuals to receive subsidies, regardless of whether they are in an exchange run by a state or the federal government.


Opponents of the ACA quickly questioned the IRS, claiming the law as written clearly directs subsidies to state-based exchanges only.  The law's proponents countered, arguing that Congress fully intended the subsidies to be offered on both state and federal exchanges.


On Tuesday, those conflicting viewpoints played out in neighboring circuit courts.


First, in Halbig v. Burwell, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled 2-1 against the IRS, finding that the insurance subsidies cannot be awarded through the 36 exchanges run by the federal government.  Hours later, the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond, Virginia ruled 3-0 in King v. Burwell that the IRS correctly deferred to Congressional intent in making the tax credits available through all exchanges, despite the ACA's unclear wording.


Unsatisfied with the D.C. Circuit's ruling, the Justice Department is seeking an "en banc" review, meaning that the full court would rehear the case if a majority of the judges agree to do so.  Such review is likely to be granted, and the process is expected to take several months. 


In the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiffs may also request an en banc hearing.  However, the Richmond court is unlikely to review the case, in part due to the panel's unanimous ruling.  Alternatively, the plaintiffs may seek to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, but accepting the case would be premature according to the Court's standard practice, which is to delay acting absent an actual circuit court split.  Thus, with further action expected in Halbig, the Supreme Court is unlikely to step in at this time.  Meanwhile, there are two other similar cases pending in courts in Oklahoma and Indiana.


Ultimately, this issue could be decided by the Supreme Court, or it could be resolved at the circuit court level, with no higher review necessary.  Regardless of the eventual outcome, the process itself will take time.  In the interim, the current subsidies will remain in place, available to consumers in federal and state-run exchanges.


The opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Halbig v. Burwell is available here.


The opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in King v. Burwell is available here. 

From the White House
President Signs Bill to Reauthorize, Modernize Federal Workforce Programs

Earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, H.R. 803).  The measure, which reauthorizes and updates the long-expired Workforce Investment Act (WIA, P.L. 105-220), was introduced by Congressional leaders in May, and recently adopted by wide margins in both the House and Senate. WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March 2013, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee last July. 


The largest single source of federal funding for workforce development activities, the reauthorized programs send states nearly $3 billion annually to help adults, displaced workers, and youth obtain skills training and employment; nearly eight million Americans were served in 2010, the last year such data is available. Despite these successes, WIOA has not kept pace with changing economic conditions, and has been unauthorized since 2003. Until now, a divided Congress was unable to reach a compromise that would modernize these crucial workforce programs. This long-awaited agreement, WIOA, eliminates 15 current workforce programs, sets authorized funding levels for formula grant programs, maintains the 15 percent set-aside for governors to address state-determined workforce needs, and incorporates several other provisions that guide state workforce boards and programs.


In addition, WIOA includes the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112), and makes amendments to its programs that include transferring the Independent Living Programs to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), adding transition as a fifth core service, improving State Independent Living Council (SILC) activities, expanding State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) sign-off to include CIL Directors, and allowing states to choose their 'designated state entity', formerly known as the DSU. WIOA also transfers the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (formerly NIDRR) and the programs authorized under the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-364) from the Department of Education to ACL.


Click here to view a statement from Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of ACL.

Click here to view the full bill text.

Click here to view a one-page summary.

Click here to view the Manager's Statement, which includes a section-by-section summary.

Click here to view a summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs.


Gala Celebration at the HCBS Conference

There are only 8 weeks left to register for  the 30th Annual National Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Conference from September 15-18, 2014 in Arlington, VA. 
NASUAD is delighted to host the 30th National HCBS Conference during our 50th Anniversary. To honor this occasion, NASUAD is hosting a Gala Dinner during this year's conference. The Gala will be black tie optional, and will require a ticket which is free with registration. 
Attendees are invited to dance the night away, take a photo with colleagues in the photo booth, and celebrate the accomplishments of  home and community based services over the past three decades.

Each year this Conference hits capacity, so reserve your space soon!


Click here to register for the conference.

Correction from Last Week's Friday Update
Last week, the Friday Update mistakenly indicated that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would provide $100 million to states under the Innovation Accelerator program. The $100 million will go to technical support, but is not expected to be distributed directly to states. 

Click here for more information on the initiative.
From the Administration
National Institute on Aging

Arthritis Advice Fact Sheet Available

The National Institute on Aging has released information on common kinds of arthritis, treatments, and lifestyle changes seniors can make to help with arthritis. The Arthritis Advice AgePage is available in English and Spanish, and includes signs of arthritis such as:

  • Ongoing joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint
Click here to view the resource and order free copies. 
Office of Disability Employment Policy

Joint Training and Employment Notice on Employment Networks

The Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) and Employment and Training Administration (ETA) have released a joint Training and Employment Notice (TEN) entitled "Receiving Ticket to Work Payments as an Employment Network." This TEN announces that the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Employment Network (EN) Payment Agreement has been rescinded by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and provides information on a new process for public workforce entities to become ENs under SSA's Ticket to Work and Self Sufficiency Program.


Click here to view the TEN.  
Click here to learn about the Ticket to Work program.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Poster Now Available

The 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) poster is now available. NDEAM is held each October and raises awareness about disability employment issues. NDEAM also celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "Expect. Employ. Empower." The poster can be ordered in hard copy and online, along with several other tools that can assist organizations in planning for this year's observance, including sample articles, proclamations and press releases. 


Click here to order hard copies of the poster.

Click here to view the NDEAM online toolkit. 

Social Security Administration

National Disability Coalition Seeks Comments

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established a National Disability Coalition that provides an opportunity for all interested stakeholders to share unique insights directly with policy makers and other stakeholders on topics of particular interest to Social Security.


SSA is seeking participants for an online comment forum on the Disability Decision Process. The online forum is now open for public ideas and comments via IdeaScale through August 15, 2014. This forum will assist SSA develop responsive and effective policies that will empower people with disabilities, minimize their financial hardship, and ensure proper use of Disability Trust funds.

The Disability Coalition plans to meet three times per year, beginning with the first meeting on September 24, 2014.  Prior to each meeting, SSA will host a four-week engagement using IdeaScale to promote stakeholder discussion. After the meetings, SSA will host a two-week post meeting engagement to provide a final opportunity for discussion.

Click here to learn more about the Disability Coalition. 

From Congress

Senate Committee Approves Disability Treaty, Advocates Push for Floor Vote

This week, by a bipartisan vote of 12 to 6, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, Treaty Doc 112-7). An international treaty that sets global standards for the treatment of people with disabilities, next steps for US ratification of the CRPD include consideration by the full Senate, but a vote has yet to be scheduled. 


Endorsed by nearly 150 countries, the CRPD is closely based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336). Upon Committee passage, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said in a press release, "The treaty embodies the highest of American standards...When we lead, the world follows, and only the United States can show the way in raising worldwide accessibility to the American standard."


Signed by the U.S. in 2009, a two-thirds Senate majority is required to make US participation official. In 2012, the Senate rejected a resolution to ratify the CRPD, falling just five votes short of the necessary 66. Since then, CRPD advocates have continued to push for its passage. NASUAD supports the treaty, and encourages those of you who are able to reach out to your Senators and ask them to ratify the CRPD this year.


Click here to view the CRPD treaty.

Click here for more information on the CRPD.

Click here to view NASUAD's letter of support. 

Click here to visit the CRPD Action Center and contact your Senators. 

From Other Organizations
Kaiser Family Foundation

Web Briefing: What Worked, What's Next? Strategies in Four States Leading ACA Enrollment Efforts

The Kaiser Family Foundation is holding an interactive web briefing on July 28, 2014, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET.

The web briefing will examine the experiences and lessons of four states, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Washington, which established state-based Marketplaces, expanded their Medicaid programs, and successfully enrolled eligible individuals into Medicaid and Marketplace coverage under the ACA.


The briefing will also present findings on key strategies that contributed to the open enrollment successes in the four states related to marketing and branding, outreach and enrollment, consumer assistance and enrollment system design, and program operations. Additionally, the briefing will highlight current and future priorities to continue to build upon the enrollment success and connect newly covered people to care. The web briefing is free and open to the public


Click here to register for the briefing. 

LEAD Center

Webinar: Customized Employment

LEAD Center will hold a webinar on July 30, 2014 entitled, Customized Employment: Beyond the Basics. The webinar is targeted at workforce development professionals, disability service providers, individuals with disabilities and other stakeholders. This webinar will address how to use the information gathered during discovery, an approach for assessing applicants for customized employment, to connect hard-to-serve job seekers, both with and without disabilities, to a range of employment opportunities. 


Click here to learn more and register for the webinar. 

National Alliance for Caregiving

Family Caregivers and Technology

The National Alliance for Caregiving recently released a white paper on family caregivers and technology. The report, Catalyzing Technology to Support Family Caregiving, is the next step following the organization's April 2014 roundtable in Palo Alto, California. The roundtable included a panel of 22 national experts from Silicon Valley, government agencies, and the non-profit sector who identified the best next steps for moving the field of caregivers and technology forward. This report provides a good starting point for innovators who want to better understand a caregiver's needs.


Click here to view the white paper.
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Employment and Mental Illness


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released the July 2014 report entitled, Road to Recovery: Employment and Mental Illness. The report describes factors contributing to the low rate of employment among individuals with mental illness, including limited access to evidence-based supported employment programs and work disincentives associated with benefit programs. The authors also identify promising trends that could reduce barriers to employment for this population, and highlight a range of promising models including the Individual Placement and Support model of supported employment, Assertive Community Treatment programs that incorporate supported employment, clubhouse-based employment programs, self-employment, and model programs for transition-age youth and for military service members and veterans. 


Click here to view the report.
Rx Response

On July 23, 2014, Rx Response held a briefing to share information on their disaster response program. Rx Response Program is a nonprofit that functions to help patients in areas affected by natural disasters obtain access to their medicines. The program is designed to be a one-stop shop to assist the public and private sectors and the government. The Google Map shows the disaster affected area to report what pharmacies are open and which are closed. Currently, seventy-five percent of the pharmacies in the United States are live on the map. Not only is this program essential for older adults, but it has served as a tool to create situation awareness for the entire community of an area. The program was vital in providing information during Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey to ensure that patients would receive their prescriptions. The program has a notification system that is set up by states because they are updated by localities.


Click here for more information or to sign up for notifications. 
Funding Opportunities
Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities
Full Title: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities

Issuing Agency: Department of Education

Eligible Applicants:  City or township governments, 

special district governments, county governments,  nonprofits, private institutions of higher education. etc.

Funding Level: $2,500,000

Close Date: August 18, 2014

Funding Opportunity NumberED-GRANTS-070214-001

CFDA Number: 84.326


Description: The purpose of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities program is to promote academic achievement and to improve results for children with disabilities by providing technical assistance (TA), supporting model demonstration projects, disseminating useful information, and implementing activities that are supported by scientifically based research.


Click here for more information on this grant opportunity, and to apply.  

Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American Indians with Disabilities
Full Title: Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American Indians With Disabilities 

Issuing Agency: Department of Education

Eligible Applicants:  Native American tribal organizations and governments; the governing bodies of Indian tribes located on Federal and State reservations.

Funding Level: $21,000,000

Close Date: September 2, 2014

Funding Opportunity NumberED-GRANTS-071714-001

CFDA Number: 84.250 


DescriptionThe Vocational Rehabilitation Services Projects for American Indians with Disabilities program provides vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to American Indians with disabilities who reside on or near federal or state reservations so that they may prepare for and engage in gainful employment, including self-employment, telecommuting or business ownership. It also supports an important White House initiative on Job-Driven Training for Workers, which emphasizes the importance of developing a workforce with the skills that employers need. 


Click here for more information on this grant opportunity, and to apply.  

Job Announcements

Community Services Bureau Chief 

The Department of Public Health and Human Services in the Montana Aging Services Bureau is seeking a Community Services Bureau Chief to join the Senior and Long Term Care Division. This is a high-level position that requires dedication on the part of the incumbent. The incumbent must be versatile, a visionary and leader, and an analytical 
problem-solver. The incumbent must be someone who can commit to the mission of advocating and promoting dignity and independence for older Montanans and Montanans with disabilities. 
Click here to learn more about the position.
Just For Fun

Jillian Mercado in Nordstrom's Summer Catalog 

Fashion blogger and inspiring model Jillian Mercado was featured in Nordstrom's summer catalog. Mercado suffers from spastic muscular dystrophy and has been wheelchair-bound since age 12. Since 1997, 
Nordstrom's annual July catalog has featured models with disabilities. Meg O'Connell, a partner at the consulting firm Global Disability Inclusion, states, "Nordstrom is a 
supporter of disability inclusion in their advertising, employment and accessibility in their stores." Learn more here.

Friday Update Archive


Did you miss a previous issue?  

Check out past Friday Updates.