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Latest Issues

The Arc of Florida Celebrates with Senate Passage of the ABLE Act

December 17, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, as the U.S. Senate passed the Achieving a Better Life Act (ABLE Act), The Arc, the nation's largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), released the following statement:

"We are pleased that the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act has been approved by both the U.S. House of Representatives and now the U.S. Senate. With the clock winding down on this session of Congress, now this important legislation can move to President Obama's desk. We appreciate the untiring work of the chief sponsors of the bill and the support of a large and broad representation in both chambers of Congress.

"While the legislation was narrowed due to the constraints from the cost analysis, the approved bill will provide a vehicle for some families and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to save for the future, depending on their own circumstances. Our efforts will not be finished if President Obama signs this bill – The Arc will continue to work with the leadership and chief sponsors in Congress to expand this program in the future to ensure that everyone in need can get the maximum benefit from this legislation. We remain disappointed that certain pay-fors remain in the bill," said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The ABLE Act aims to change the tax code to allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation. Similar to existing "Section 529" education savings accounts, ABLE accounts would let families save for disability-related expenses on behalf of qualified beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not replace, benefits provided through the Medicaid program, the Supplemental Security Income program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources. If properly managed, funds in the ABLE accounts would not jeopardize eligibility for critical federal benefits. With full understanding of its features, individuals and families could use the ABLE accounts as another tool in planning for the lifetime needs of an individual with long term disabilities. The version of the bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives includes age limitations and a cap on contributions, added in July by the Committee on Ways and Means to reduce the costs of the bill. If the President signs the ABLE Act into law, The Arc will issue a fact sheet including the details on the bill as it has been revised through the legislative process. Further details would come through the regulatory process.

(Originally posted by The Arc.)

 

APD Issues Dismissal of Agency Action in Pending iBudget Fair Hearings

December 8, 2014

APD has started filing a Dismissal of Agency Action in every pending iBudget fair hearing. This means, in essence, that APD is "taking back" the original notice reducing the total funding allocation. Many people never experienced the reduction because their funding level has been continued pending the hearing. In January 2014, others who had received a reduction had their funding level reinstated because of the federal case challenging the iBudget notices (Moreland v. Palmer). APD admits in the Dismissal letter that under Moreland, APD cannot reduce an iBudget allocation without sending out an adequate notice and giving an opportunity to be heard.

APD also says in the Dismissal letter that the iBudget transition is complete and there is no action currently pending to reduce, suspend or terminate the budget amounts for anyone who transitioned from the Tier Waiver to iBudget.

So what does this mean for anyone with a pending hearing request?

1. The hearing will not go forward. DCF Office of Appeal Hearings will issue an Order closing the case.
2. There will be NO REDUCTIONS based on the earlier iBudget Notice.
3. If APD considers the iBudget transition to be complete, it does not seem likely that APD will issue another round of notices setting a new funding allocation. If this were to occur, however, APD would need to issue a new notice fully explaining the decision and give the recipient an opportunity to request a hearing.

 

The Arc Marks House Passage of ABLE Act

December 3, 2014

Washington, DC – Today, as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act), The Arc, the nation's largest organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), released the following statement:

"We are pleased that the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, H.R. 647, has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, and is one step closer to reaching President Obama's desk. We appreciate the untiring work of the chief sponsors of the bill and the support of a large and broad representation in Congress. The ABLE Act is a good example of how members of both political parties can work together to craft legislation that benefits people with disabilities, as disability knows no political, geographic, gender, or ethnic boundaries.

"While the legislation was narrowed due to the constraints from the cost analysis, the approved bill will provide a vehicle for some families and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to save for the future. The Arc will continue to work with the leadership and chief sponsors of this effort in Congress to expand this program in the future to ensure that everyone in need can get the maximum benefit from this legislation. Our goal is to ensure that people with disabilities get the full use of the ABLE Act. We still have concerns about certain pay-fors in the bill, and hope that the House and Senate can resolve these issues," said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The ABLE Act aims to change the tax code to allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation. Similar to existing "Section 529" education savings accounts, ABLE accounts would let families save for disability-related expenses on behalf of qualified beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not replace, benefits provided through the Medicaid program, the Supplemental Security Income program, the beneficiary's employment, and other sources. If properly managed, funds in the ABLE accounts would not jeopardize eligibility for critical federal benefits. With full understanding of its features, individuals and families could use the ABLE accounts as another tool in planning for the lifetime needs of an individual with long term disabilities. The version of the bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives includes age limitations and a cap on contributions, added in July by the Committee on Ways and Means to reduce the costs of the bill.

(Originally posted by The Arc.)

 

New Training Events Announced

November 20, 2014

The Arc of Florida Presents:

"A Series of Evening Board Training Opportunities"

The Arc of Florida is pleased to announce a series of board training opportunities available during evening hours.  The series will be offered via Webinar for all current and prospective board members of our local Arc Chapters and colleague members.  Prior registration is required.  Board members may register individually or as a group allowing members to watch via the convenience of their home, office or in a boardroom setting with other board members.  A Question and Answer period will be held at the end of each Webinar.  Each session will be recorded.  This is being offered as a free member service.

The Events

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 -- 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.  "The Legal Roles and Responsibilities of a Non-Profit Board Member"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 -- 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.  "Who Are Your Stakeholders and What is Your Responsibility To Them?"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 -- 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.  "Protecting Yourself - General Liability for Board Members"

Presenter

Frank P. Rainer, Esq., Broad and Cassel

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Mr. Rainer is Of Counsel in the Tallahassee office of Broad and Cassel.  He is a member of the Firm's Real Estate, Commercial Litigation and Health Law Practice Groups and has more than 25 years of experience in both transactional and litigation matters with primary focus in the general corporate arena and the banking, health care and real estate industries.

He assists health care organizations and Florida corporations in all areas of transactional work, including corporate organization and maintenance, financing, employment and consultant contracting, general contract work and regulatory analysis.  Mr. Rainer also has a significant amount of experience with mergers and acquisitions, serving as both lead counsel and as local Florida counsel.  He has extensive experience in health care regulatory, administrative, litigation and transactional work and represents health plans, managed care companies, trade associations, banks, real estate investment trusts, hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, social service agencies, physicians, physician groups, disability services and other ancillary health care providers.

Mr. Rainer has been a long-standing friend of "The Arc".

Ms. Deborah J. Linton, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc of Florida, will also be available for the Question and Answer period.

To register for these training events, please CLICK HERE.

 
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