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Capitol Correspondence - 05.14.19

How are I/DD Supports Faring as Congress Builds Its Budget? Includes NEMT Update

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Last week the House Appropriations Committee released and marked up the “Labor-HHS” bill, which funds the lion’s share of domestic portion of the federal government. While we covered the Health and Human Services (HHS) portion of the bill and its relevance to I/DD programs last week, ANCOR has since learned that programs covered by the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 – otherwise known as “the DD act” all received funding increases in this proposed version of the bill. These programs include Developmental Disability (DD) Councils, University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDS), Protection and Advocacy agencies (P&As), Projects of National Significance (PNS) and Assistive Technology Grants. For the convenience of our members, we are sharing the excerpt of the Labor-HHS bill that covers DD act programs.

Additionally, in its report the Appropriations Committee responded to news that the Administration is considering making Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefits optional (see our article in the Administration section of this ANCOR Capitol Correspondence issue). The Committee included language on page 132 of its Labor-HHS report, directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to commission a study from the National Academy of Medicine on the impact of the planned regulation on beneficiaries and strongly urging CMS to delay publication. During the hearing, the Committee also adopted an amendment by voice vote to prevent CMS from publishing the regulation. As part of its coalition work on this issue, ANCOR joined a letter asking for this language during the mark up process and intends to do the same for the Senate budget process.

For those not as familiar with the Congressional budget process: The report and mark up process is part of the first phase of the Congressional budget. For each budget bill, the House Appropriations Committee will then have to vote on the proposal, followed by a full House vote. Changes will be made to the bills during that time. A similar process is being undertaken in the Senate for its own budget bills. At the end of that process both the Senate and House will negotiate on how to combine their corresponding bills. The process concludes with the House and Senate voting on the final bills and sending them to the President for his signature. This process has to be concluded by the end of September (end of the fiscal year) or the government could run out of funding and risk a shutdown. While a shutdown is not likely at this time, the climate changes quickly in Congress and we will keep members informed of updates as the deadline approaches.