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The Capitol Roundup

The Arc of Arizona's regular recap of State & Federal legislative happenings

​July 21, 2017

Apposition and Opposition
At the Statehouse...

While things have slowed down at the state Capitol this summer, there is still plenty of excitement in Arizona politics. The country’s attention turned to Arizona this week as U.S. Senator John McCain announced his fight with brain cancer. His health problems were one factor in the Senate’s inability to find a path forward on health care changes. While Congressional leaders determine their next steps, Governor Ducey and many legislators and business representatives will continue to keep a close watch on how federal proposals impact Arizona’s Medicaid funding and services.

There are many reasons to stay engaged in actions at the federal government. A White House commission recently fueled a high-profile and passionate debate about whether Arizona should provide the information on voter registration in the state. Secretary of State Michele Reagan opted to refuse the request, citing concern about voter privacy. The issue is not over, though, as federal officials call for more state information and privacy groups closely monitor government actions on the issue.

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Closer to home, there is an empty seat in the state legislature after Representative Jesus Rubalcava (D-Gila Bend) resigned this week. Elected precinct committee officials and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will select his replacement. Last week, a court began consideration of a case that will determine whether the legislature’s recent changes to the requirements for citizen initiatives can continue. Opponents of the changes have also turned to citizen initiatives: at least one of the groups trying to undo legislative action by ballot initiatives say they are on track to get the signatures required to put the issue before voters in the November 2018 election, though leaders of a similar effort admitted their failure to obtain the necessary support. Leaders of an initiative to reverse the legislative expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts say they are also pursuing the support they need to advance their proposal. The groups have until August 8 to collect the more than 75,000 required signatures from registered voters.
In policy news this month, Arizona employees got more sick time due to implementation of a proposal approved by voters last November, the Auditor General recommended improvements to the state’s program that grants free university and community college tuition to those in foster care programs, and the Department of Health Services began releasing data it receives through its new requirement for reporting suspected opioid overdoses and deaths. The Department of Health Services (DHS) also received a long-awaited analysis of independent health oversight boards that is likely to renew the discussion about whether the boards should remain independent or be under the umbrella of DHS. Neither the Governor nor DHS has signaled how they intend to use the information provided in the independent analysis.
 
Budget Update

There was good news for state revenues this month in a report from legislative budget staff. Revenues in the month of May totaled more than $725 million – 6.7% above May of last year, and $45.8 million higher than the enacted budget predicted. Most of the growth was generated by an increase in individual income tax, though sales tax revenues also grew.
 
Panel Starts Work to Change the U.S. Constitution

Several legislators recently returned to the Capitol to start the work of the Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention Committee. The six-member panel is charged with planning Arizona’s participation in a constitutional convention to consider adding budget limitations to the U.S. Constitution, and began its work with a focus on the logistical details necessary to fulfil their goals – including invitations and meeting space. The Arizona Planning Convention is scheduled for September 12 at noon, at the Arizona State Capitol.

Arizona participation in a constitutional convention was authorized by the legislature this year, after years of debate on the issue. For a convention to occur, however, 34 states must join the call to reopen the Constitution for amendment. As some states may rescind the call they previously approved (sometimes many years ago), the likelihood of reaching that required participation is unclear.
 
AHCCCS Waiver Application on Hold

In 2015, the legislature directed AHCCCS to submit a federal waiver to seek new limits – including caps and work requirements – to AHCCCS recipients. AHCCCS began that process, holding public forums around the state to obtain feedback. As the Medicaid system hangs in limbo awaiting federal action, however, AHCCCS has paused progress on the waiver and missed a March 30th submission deadline that was enacted in the 2015 legislation.
Neither the Governor nor House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) is concerned about the missed deadline. Both point to a hope that this administration will look more favorably on state flexibility for imposing restrictions on Medicaid benefits, and the Governor’s office said it might take more time to review the public input received during the AHCCCS waiver process. 
 

​On the Federal Front...

Action Alerts

ACA Repeal Vote Expected Early Next Week - 
Call Your Senators TODAY!


As the disability community battled against this effort over the last several months, we have shown our strength, our power, and The Arc thanks each and every advocate who has stepped up in this fight. But it is not over yet - we are expecting the Senate to vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) next week.

It is expected that the bill being voted on will be a new version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act. This bill would pose a dire threat to Medicaid and the millions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who rely on it. 

Our Senators must hear from you about the importance of Medicaid in the lives of people with disabilities. Take a few minutes and call your Senator and tell them how Medicaid impacts your life. Every call counts and your calls are working!

This is the civil rights fight of our time, and we need advocates like you to remain vigilant to protect all that has been built to ensure the inclusion and equality of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our society.
 

Script:
Use our simple tool now to call your Senators and tell them:
  • I am a member of The Arc.
  • I am a person with I/DD (or a family member of someone with I/DD, or a professional in the disability field).
  • I (or my family member) depend(s) on Medicaid long term supports (or home and community supports) to live in my/our community.
  • Please OPPOSE any legislation that will cut or cap Medicaid.
  • These types of cuts would be devastating to me/us and other people with disabilities and their families.

Major Recent Events

Health Care/Medicaid: Senate Releases New Healthcare/Medicaid Discussion Draft, Concerning Provisions Largely Unchanged

On July 13, the Senate released a new discussion draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). The Senate was unable to secure support to pass the bill before the July 4 recess and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Administration officials continue to work hard to convince at least 50 Senators to support the bill. To address strong criticism regarding the impact on people with disabilities, the new draft includes $8 billion for a four-year home and community based services demonstration for rural states. This woefully inadequate one-time fund is much smaller than the $19 billion cut from the enhanced federal match (which is not time-limited) in the Community First Choice state option. Additionally, the draft bill still includes per capita caps, which, when combined with cuts to Medicaid expansion, will result in reductions in Medicaid spending by 35% by 2036, compared to current law. Additional changes include allowing insurers to sell plans that cover fewer services, increased funding to address the opioid crisis, and maintaining the Affordable Care Act's high-income payroll tax and investment income tax. In a statement, The Arc warned that the new draft continues to pose a severe threat to people with disabilities.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has announced that a vote on the BCRA will be delayed for at least a week. Advocates should continue reaching out to their Senators and organizing against the BCRA. Please call your Senators and take part in our emergency letter-writing campaign.

Javi, a man with autism and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and his mother Linda have benefited from Medicaid. Linda became a single parent when Javi was just seven years old, and was able to work full time because of the support Javi received through Medicaid. Last week, The Arc released their story, the sixth in a series featuring people who rely on Medicaid and/or the Affordable Care Act. Please share this video widely with your networks to show the impact of cutting Medicaid and repealing major health care protections. For an especially easy option, retweet The Arc of the US and share our Facebook post.
If you missed The Arc's first five videos, check them out & share them now"If I could say one thing""Calvin's Story""Meet Thelma""Meet Bryan.", and "Meet Soojung & Alice".
 
Budget & Appropriations: L-HHS-Ed Appropriations Bill Advances

The House of Representatives continued advancing several funding bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 which begins on October 1. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released its draft bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) which includes the vast majority of discretionary disability-related programs and passed it out of subcommittee the following day. The bill provides funding of $156 billion, a $5 billion (3.1%) cut from FY 2017 levels. The Department of Education has the most significant cut of $2.5 billion (though IDEA programs received a small increase), while the Department of Labor would face a $1 billion cut and HHS faces around $500 million in cuts. See summary here. Line item figures are expected to be made available soon. A markup by the full House Appropriations Committee is planned for July 19.
 
Education: Bill to Improve Higher Education for Students with Disabilities Introduced in the House

On July 12, Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and eight co-sponsors introduced H.R. 3199, the Improving Access to Higher Education Act. This bill would amend the Higher Education Act to improve college access and completion for students with disabilities. The Arc supports this comprehensive legislation that would provide students and institutions with improved training, greater resources, and expanded services, and includes improvements to the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities.
 
Social Security: Trustees Release 2017 Annual Report; House Holds Hearing

Last week, the Social Security Board of Trustees released "The 2017 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds." The 2017 report finds that, in 2016, Social Security took in roughly $35 billion more than it paid out (in total income and interest). Social Security's reserves were $2.85 trillion at the end of 2016. The Trustees continue to project that Social Security's combined Trust Funds can pay all scheduled benefits through 2034, at which point the Trust Funds would be able to pay approximately 77 percent of scheduled benefits. The Trustees also find that Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund can pay full scheduled benefits through 2028, after which the fund will be able to pay about 93 percent of scheduled benefits. This is 5 years longer than projected in the 2016 Trustees Report, due to declines in applications, awards, and the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits. Additional key points about the Trustees Report are available from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force.

The Social Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means held a hearing on the 2017 Trustees Report. The witness was Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony and archived video.
 
Education: Department of Education Issues Final Rule Eliminating the R-Word from Its Regulations

The Department of Education released its final rule eliminating the r-word from its regulations and replacing it with "intellectual disability" or "intellectual disabilities." This rule does not make any change to the meaning of the regulations, but rather brings them in line with Rosa's Law, the 2010 law which eliminated the term from all statutes under the jurisdiction of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
 
Announcements
 
Rights: July 17-21 is National Disability Voter Registration Week

According to a Rutgers University research report, people with disabilities and their families accounted for 25% of the electorate in 2016. Yet, people with disabilities register and vote at rates that continue to lag behind voters without disabilities.
Let's change that! This is National Disability Voter Registration week - and it's time to Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power! Join the REV UP Campaign and use this quick and easy link to Register to Vote Now!

Already registered? Make sure your friends and family are registered too!
Here are helpful resources:
Thank you for your supporting National Disability Voter Registration Week!
 
Education: Report Shows Most States are Not Meeting IDEA Obligations

The U.S. Department of Education found that only 22 states deserved the "meets requirements" designation for the 2015-2016 school year. All other states were placed into the "needs assistance" category. The findings come from an annual mandatory assessment of state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The ratings are based on how well states meet their obligations to serve students with disabilities ages 3 to 21.



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and

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The Capitol Roundup is provided weekly throughout the Arizona Legislative session and periodically between sessions as a benefit of Membership in The Arc of Arizona. To continue receiving this publication, visit www.arcarizona.org/become-a-member to start or renew your Membership today!