APSE Public Policy Priorities
Calendar year 2021 is the first year of the 117th Congress and also marks the incoming of a new Presidential Administration. Typically, Congress tries to pass most of its big legislation in the first year of its two-year term, making advocacy particularly critical. APSE will continue to promote policy to advance competitive, integrated employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
Our priorities for the 117th Congress include:
Phase Out of 14(c) and Subminimum Wage
Since 2009, APSE has called for the complete phase out of the use of 14(c) certificates and sub-minimum wage for all individuals with disabilities. While the sub-minimum wage may have historically been a valid and effective strategy for enhancing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, the evolution in disability rights law, modernization of the business marketplace, and advances in available community employment support, makes the 14(c) provision under the Fair Labor and Standards Act no longer necessary or acceptable. Read the full statement here.
APSE will continue to educate Members of Congress around this issue, in support of the Raise the Wage and Transformation to Competitive Employment Acts, which were introduced early in the 116th Congress.
Building the capacity of the DSP Workforce to meet current and evolving needs
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including job coaches and job developers, are essential to ensuring the safety and health of people with disabilities who receive employment supports. They are on the frontlines of the Employment First movement. As such, DSPs should be able to reflect the communities they serve while still being able to support their families.
APSE is committed to professionalizing the field with an intentional emphasis on eliminating barriers to diversity in the workforce. We will continue to advocate for fair wages and protections (including hazard pay for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic), career pathways offering opportunities for advancement, and recognition of the CESP credential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further eroded the stability of the disability employment support system. Yet DSPs, have continued to provide critical supports to essential and frontline workers with disabilities. To learn more, read APSE's Statement on Supported Workers and Job Coaches as Essential Staff.
Achieving the Full Intent of Current Federal Employment First Law
Implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA):
Passed in 2014, the implementing regulations for WIOA were released in the last year of the Obama administration. There have been campaigns to either rescind the WIOA regulations altogether or to modify them to alter the definition of "competitive integrated employment.” APSE is opposed to changing WIOA regulations in any way on the basis that the law was passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support, and that the regulations are not only aligned with Congressional intent but also with long-standing Department of Education and Rehabilitation Services Administration policy.
Compliance with the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Settings Rule:
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final settings rule in 2014, providing for Medicaid-funded services to be provided in homes and communities rather than institutional settings. CMS has already given states an extension to comply with the rule. APSE's position has been — and continues to be — one of support for full implementation of the rule, on the basis that too many settings that are funded as community-based actually serve to segregate those with individuals from the broader community and instead create substitutes for community.
Promoting ABLE Expansion
APSE supports the expansion of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This includes increasing the number of individuals eligible for ABLE accounts by expanding the age of onset of a qualifying disability, increasing asset limits and eliminating the marriage penalty.
Other issues and concerns:
APSE will continue to advocate for enhanced flexibility in service delivery throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes engagement with CMS, RSA, and other sources, to allow for the provision of remote services and supports in a way that ensures quality and flexibility in services, and sufficient funding for quality supports.
APSE opposes Medicaid Work Requirements. These requirements would reduce access to Medicaid, and potentially employment, for people with disabilities and their caregivers. The majority of non-elderly, adult Medicaid recipients are already either working or are caregivers for family members. In a joint statement with the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination (CPSD), APSE affirmed our commitment to advancing policies that have been shown to help people with disabilities find and retain employment using HCBS. Threatening beneficiaries with the loss of their healthcare has never increased employment. In fact, people who have access to healthcare are healthy are more likely to be able to work. Read the full statement here.
APSE opposes cuts to Medicaid and Social Security. It is APSE's position that Medicaid SSI and SSDI are the core programs that enable Americans to be employed and to live independently in their communities. If these cuts weave their way into serious policy discussions or if a bill is proposed that would make cuts to these programs, APSE will be involved in actively opposing any cuts, including an attempt to impose per capita caps or block grants on Medicaid funding. Read More About the Role of Medicaid in Supported Employment
APSE will continue to advocate for the full enforcement of protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including and especially the "integration mandate" as it relates to community-based services that support employment.