Economic Stimulus, Recovery and Disability – (Day in Washington Policy Update #33)

Day in Washington explores and discusses various aspects of disability policy. Each episode covers a specific issue within disability, and/or a disability-related news article. These 6 minute podcasts offer an easy to understand analysis of current disability policy and politics. You can find the text of each podcast in the comments. If you have difficulty downloading a podcast, please right-click and save it to your computer for playback.

Episode Summary: This episode offers a closer look at the disability policy in the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) and also comments on the politics behind the bill.

Audio File: Day in Washington #33 (Economic Stimulus, Recovery and Disability)

Resources:

New York Times Coverage of the Economic Stimulus Legislation

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “Economic Recovery Watch” Special Series

Disability Scoop – Economic Stimulus Compromise Bill

Day In Washington Podcast #27 (Medicaid Moratorium)

2 comments for “Economic Stimulus, Recovery and Disability – (Day in Washington Policy Update #33)

  1. admin
    February 18, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Day in Washington Policy Update – Economic Stimulus, Recovery and Disability
    (February 17, 2008)

    INTRODUCTION

    Hello and welcome to your Day In Washington Disability Policy Update. I’m your host, Day Al-Mohamed working to make sure you stay informed.

    EPISODE

    One year ago, in February 2008, Congress passed a $168 billion economic package of tax cuts and rebates. Now, almost exactly one year later, President Obama signs to law, H.R. 1, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion recovery package.

    Commonly referred to as the Economic Stimulus bill this legislation is intended to boost economic activity by increasing demand. What that means is that if people have more money to buy good and services, such as through a tax rebate, then that means companies are less likely to lay off workers. Now let me just say, that a lot of people believe that this kind of fiscal policymaking of putting money into people’s hands is an effective way to address a recession…others, not so much

    This specific bill would seem to offer more than the one passed last February because rather than only relying on increasing demand through consumer spending (and giving people the money to spend through tax rebates) it also offers investments into various sectors of the economy including health and education.

    In Health Care

    The legislation temporarily increases the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (or FMAP) to states. Medicaid is a federal-state partnership and is the largest single source of health insurance and long-term care for people with disabilities. However, because of fiscal shortfalls many states cannot continue to pay their share of Medicaid expenditures. This FMAP increase puts an additional $87 billion into the federal portion of the collaboration to help states avoid cutting eligibility and services for beneficiaries.

    Over the past year, I spoken a lot about the harmful Medicaid regulations proposed by CMS and the temporary moratorium that successfully stopped (but didn’t eliminate) those regulations. That moratorium was scheduled to end in March of 2009. This law extends the moratorium on the harmful regulations related to Medicaid targeted case management, school-based administration and transportation services, and hospital outpatient services until the end of June. It also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to not issue finalized regulations on Medicaid rehabilitative services.

    In addition, the language includes $1 billion for new prevention and wellness programs to fight preventable diseases and conditions with
    evidence-based strategies. What is so positive about this is that prevention and wellness programs tend to have a greater emphasis on community-based services.

    There is also $10 billion to conduct biomedical research in areas such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stem cells.

    Also important to note is that the stimulus package includes federal subsidies for health insurance premiums (for up to 9 months) under COBRA. For many workers who lose their jobs, maintaining health care can be difficult and the COBRA payments that would allow them to continue to use their previous employer’s plan are expensive. The 65% federal subsidy will significantly impact anyone who loses a job and either has a disability or a family member with a disability.

    The compromise plan includes a $250 one-time stimulus payment for SSI recipients.

    In Education

    There was a very large investment that is specifically for special education investment – $12.2 billion. The Part B Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants to states provision will receive $11.3 billion. Part B relates to school age and preschool programs for children with disabilities. Additional $400 million will go to special education pre-school services. This infusion of funds is more than double the usual expenditures on education and increases the Federal share of special education services to its highest level ever.

    Obviously, this is a huge bill, that has a complex history and there is much more to detail involved. To offer a little of that history, let me point out that the passed compromise bill’s funding for people with disabilities is lower than funding in the previously passed versions by both the House and the Senate. In addition, for the purposes of this podcast and to make sure my listeners also get some picture of the politics of this bill – the House vote was 246 to 183, with 7 Democrats joining all 176 Republicans in opposition; and in the Senate, the vote, was 60 to 38, also falling along party lines. To get a full understanding of how Congress operates in any given year, it is always important to follow, not just the policies, but also the politics.

    It is going to take time, perhaps years to fully address the economic situation and get an understanding as to what will and what will not effectively address the needs of this country. In the interim, there will be much more legislation passed that will significantly impact people with disabilities. The current discussions on comprehensive health care reform are a great example. What is at the heart of this is that it is crucial that disability is included in all legislation, not just disability-specific legislation.

    One of the biggest unsung battles of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was the drive by a number of disability groups, not just for funding of these programs, but to simply have the word “disability” included in the legislation, to be acknowledged and recognized as a part of the American society and its financial and economic system.

    CLOSING

    This is Day Al-Mohamed with your Disability Policy Update, hoping that you stay well and stay informed. For more information about disability policy or to comment please visit: DayInWashington.com or call 206-888-6009.

Comments are closed.