FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Washington, D.C. (April 2, 2010) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) applauds President Obama’s March 30 signing of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) into law, which contains “fixes” to the health care reform bill (H.R. 3590). This historic legislation is certain to rank among the top domestic legislative achievements of this generation. It will bring about comprehensive health care reform that will benefit nearly all Americans while reducing the federal deficit.
The Disability Policy Collaboration, and UCP’s grasstops and grassroots work were instrumental in securing enactment of this landmark legislation.
“We are extremely pleased that the new law marks the attainment of several of United Cerebral Palsy’s priority public policy goals, because people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will benefit greatly from a number of important provisions of the law,” said Stephen Bennett, former President & CEO, United Cerebral Palsy. “However we know that no bill is perfect, and we have a significant amount of work ahead to ensure the law is implemented properly. This includes the impact some of the provisions have on the budgets of the developmental disability provider network without the critical funding supports from the federal and state governments.”
“This law, coupled with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), which President Obama signed last week, will dramatically improve disability related health care and long term services and supports,” explained Liz Savage, Director of Health Policy for the Disability Policy Collaboration, who attended the historic ceremony. “These laws represent a sea change in access to quality, affordable health care for people with disabilities.”
Law provisions include the following:
- Prohibiting private health insurance exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
- Eliminating annual and lifetime caps in private insurance policies.
- Restricting the consideration of health status in setting premiums.
- Expanding Medicaid to cover individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (approximately $29,000 per year for a family of four).
- Ensuring that minimum covered benefits include products and services that enable people with disabilities to maintain and improve function, such as rehabilitation and habilitation services and devices.
Access to Quality Care
- Improving training of physicians, dentists, and allied health professionals on how to treat persons with disabilities.
- Requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to collect data on beneficiaries with disabilities access to primary care services and the level to which primary care service providers have been trained on disability issues. Ensuring prevention programs include a focus on individuals with disabilities.
Long Term Services and Supports
Strengthening long-term services and supports through a two pronged approach:
- Taking pressure off of the Medicaid program
- The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would create a national long term services insurance program which assists eligible individuals and their families to meet long term needs with a cash benefit and without forcing them into poverty to receive Medicaid benefits.
- Improving the Medicaid program
- The Community First Choice Option would help to eliminate the institutional bias by encouraging states to cover personal attendant services under the state’s optional service plan instead of through the waiver system by offering a 6% increase in the federal share of Medicaid for these services.
- Increasing the federal share of Medicaid, known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (or FMAP), for home and community based services (HCBS) and during periods of economic downturn.
- Allowing states to offer additional services under the 1915(i) Medicaid HCBS Waivers State Plan Option.
- Providing spousal impoverishment protections for HCBS Beneficiaries.
This bill signing came after a week filled with events, including:
- On March 21, the U.S. House of Representatives (House) voted 219 to 212 to pass the Senate health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (H.R. 3590). Thirty four Democrats and all Republicans opposed the bill. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the legislation would cost $940 billion over ten years and reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion over the first ten years and $1.2 trillion in the second ten years. The House then took up a budget reconciliation bill [the Reconciliation Act of 2010 H.R. (4872)] to make amendments to the health care reform bill to address issues which were problematic to many Members of Congress. The reconciliation bill was passed by a vote of 220 to 211.
- On March 23, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R.3590)into law, which includes the CLASS Act and the Community First Choice (CFC) Option.
- On March 25, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) which contains “fixes” to the health care reform bill (HR 3590) by a vote of 56 to 43. The House then passed the reconciliation bill for a second time, because the Senate had made some technical changes to it by a vote of 220 to 207.
About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) was founded over 60 years ago by parents of children with cerebral palsy, and today UCP is a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities. The UCP mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network. This includes approximately 100 local service providers reaching over 176,000 adults and children daily in the U.S., Canada, Scotland and Australia. The UCP national office in Washington DC supports affiliates through programmatic assistance; an annual conference; events to raise awareness and support; marketing and communication services; advocacy; advancement of federal disability public policy through the Disability Policy Collaboration (DPC); and development of forward-thinking programs like Life Without Limits, a national movement to empower people with disabilities to envision and build a better future, and MyChildWithoutLimits, an online resource and community for parents, families and caregivers of children ages zero to five, newly diagnosed with a disability or developmental delay. For more information, please visit www.UCP.org.