Capitol Correspondence - 02.13.24

Bipartisan Disability Community Act Introduced to Address Workforce Crisis and Regulatory Challenges

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In a crucial response to the impending changes to the federal regulations governing overtime payment, Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced the Disability Community Act (H.R. 7267). This bipartisan legislation, applauded by leading national nonprofits ANCOR, Easterseals, and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), aims to stabilize the disability services workforce and safeguard access to community-based services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The proposed Disability Community Act seeks to address the financial impact of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed increase to the overtime salary threshold. If implemented, the DOL’s rule change is estimated to impose over $1 billion in additional expenses for disability service providers in the first year alone. In response, the legislation plans to increase the federal Medicaid match to states for I/DD services over a three-year period, assisting providers in covering the costs associated with the rule change and other recent regulatory proposals.

Barbara Merrill, CEO of ANCOR, expressed gratitude to Representatives Tonko and Fitzpatrick for their bipartisan collaboration, emphasizing the legislation’s recognition of the endangered status of Medicaid-funded services due to a severe workforce shortage and insufficient federal investment.

The ongoing direct support workforce crisis, coupled with the expiration of regulatory flexibilities and pandemic relief funding, adds to the urgency of the Disability Community Act. Without such solutions, community providers may face the challenging decision of discontinuing services or closing their doors completely.

To support the passage of the Disability Community Act, ANCOR, Easterseals, and UCP encourage advocates to reach out to their respective members of Congress through ANCOR’s Action Alert, emphasizing the critical importance of the legislation in maintaining essential disability services across the nation.