The Arc’s Disability Policy Priorities Included in Federal Appropriations Bill

On December 23, the U.S. House and Senate passed a $1.7 trillion federal spending bill. The Arc of the United States has compiled a summary of important provisions included in the funding package.

HCBS and Community Living

  • Extends the Medicaid Money Follows the Person program (MFP) through 2027. MFP enables state Medicaid programs to transition people out of institutions and into the community. The Arc of Indiana has worked on this issue for several years.
  • Extends the requirement that states apply Medicaid’s spousal impoverishment protections to Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) through 2027.

Medicaid and other Health Care Priorities

  • Requires states to provide children with 12 months of continuous eligibility when they enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This will help children continue health coverage even when there are changes in the family’s income.
  • Extends the authorization of the CHIP program and funding until 2029.
  • Permanently extends the optionstates have to provide 12 months of Medicaid postpartum coverage but does not require states to provide this critical coverage. Indiana Medicaid provides  this coverage.

Financial Security and Social Security

  • Expands ABLE account eligibility by increasing the age of disability onset to access an ABLE account from prior to age 26 to age 46, effective in 2026.
  • Makes a technical change to the tax code that makes it easier to allow a charity to be a remainder beneficiary of a special needs trust that inherits a retirement account.
  • Expands funding for the Social Security Administration by 6%, the largest increase in more than a decade.

Judge Rotenberg Center and Electrical Stimulation Device

  • While the bill does not specifically ban the torturous device used by the Judge Rotenberg Center, it does create a pathway for the FDA to issue a new ban on the device and have the ban upheld in court.

Education and Child Care

  • Increases IDEA funding, including a 21% increase for Personnel Prep, which can help address the special educator shortage.
  • Increases the funding for numerous child care and early learning programs, including a 30% increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant.

Housing

  • Provides 8.1 billion in additional funding for Housing and Urban Development’s public housing programs for a total of $61.8 billion.
  • Funds the Section 811 program, which is specifically for people with disabilities, with an additional $360 million through September 30, 2026. This includes up to $148 million for new project rental assistance [PRA] and capital advance awards. This report language specially mentions housing needs for people with IDD.

Food Insecurity

  • Includes $154 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, an increase of $13.4 billion.
  • Includes $28.544 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, including $40 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Program to provide grocery benefits to the nation’s low-income families with school-age children when schools are closed for the summer. However, this is paid for by creating an earlier end date for temporary emergency SNAP benefits that still exists in some states.

Things To Be Aware Of

  • SSI Asset Limits: The bill does not include the bipartisan SSI asset limit increase that The Arc advocated for.
    The Arc will continue to advocate for this legislation in the 118th Congress.
  • Public Health Emergency and Medicaid Coverage: During the Public Health Emergency, states have been prohibited from removing anyone from Medicaid programs due to an increase in income or change in “categorical eligibility” (e.g., pregnancy, age, disability) that would ordinarily make them ineligible for Medicaid. Beginning April 1, states, including Indiana, will have 12 months to evaluate who still qualifies for Medicaid.
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