Public Policy Agenda

APSE Policy Forecast for 2018

The United States Capitol building with the dome lit up at night.

Calendar year 2018 is the second year of the 115th Congress; it is a mid-term election year. Typically, Congress tries to pass most of its big legislation in the first year of its two-year term. During a second year it places a greater focus on the upcoming election. With one-third of its members having to defend their seats come November, Congress is less likely to pass big bills this year.

2017 was a year of legislative and regulatory challenges for the disability community, and the overall political environment in Washington has not been favorable in terms of regulatory changes for our policy work. We expect to be defending both statutory and regulatory changes that negatively impact Americans with disabilities for the next year. Several areas that APSE will focus on in 2018 include:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

In 2017, shortly before the holidays, the Department of Justice (DOJ) rescinded guidance on the application of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Olmstead v. L.C. to state and local government's employment service systems for individuals with disabilities. While a guidance document does not carry the same legal weight as a federal statute or regulation, this was a clear signal that the DOJ would not continue Olmstead enforcement as it relates to employment. There is a bill that recently passed the House of Representatives called the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) that would weaken ADA protections for individuals with disabilities. Senate Democrats, with the help of advocates, successfully blocked introduction of the companion bill. APSE will continue to advocate for the full enforcement of ADA protections, including and especially the "integration mandate" as it relates to community-based services, particularly employment.

The guidance documents, preserved in the resource section of the APSE website; to directly link to the documents, click here.

Medicaid Home-and-Community Based Services (HCBS)

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final settings rule in 2014. There are vigorous campaigns by groups that want to modify and rescind the rule on the basis that it reduces choice for individuals who receive HCBS services. CMS has already given states an additional three years to comply with the rule, and the administration has been sympathetic to groups that want to see these changes made. 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.

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 the phrases "work unit" and "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.

Entitlement Cuts

House Speaker Paul Ryan has publicly voiced his intent to reduce spending in 2018 on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security-three key programs for low-income and disabled Americans to live and work in their communities. The disability community, along with many other advocacy coalitions, was successful in fighting back a healthcare bill in 2017 that would have cut Medicaid funding by $840 billion. It is APSE's position that Medicaid and SSI 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.

Medicaid Work Requirements

ASPE 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. Medicaid work requirements are a thinly-veiled attempt to reduce the number Medicaid beneficiaries. In a joint statement with the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination, APSE stated that we are committed to advancing policies that have been shown to help people with disabilities find and retain employment using HCBS. This includes increasing access to HCBS supports and services, including supported employment services, funded through Medicaid. 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.