August 29, 1997........................................................................................Number 57
When Congress reconvenes next month, H.R. 2264, the appropriations bill for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related Services will be among the first bills to be considered by the House of Representatives. Friday Fax learned that Congressman Frank Riggs may offer an amendment to this legislation that would overturn the carefully crafted agreement on the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
IDEA was the result of a bipartisan and bicameral effort by leaders of the House and Senate, and the Department of Education. Ironically, Congressman Riggs was a leader in shaping this legislation. The House of Representatives adopted IDEA by a vote of 420 to 3 in May of 1997, the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1, and IDEA was signed into law by President Clinton on June 4, 1997. This proposed amendment, which would seek to deny special education services to adult inmates between the ages of 18-21, would threaten the carefully crafted compromise reached in the IDEA Amendments of 1997. This amendment must not be allowed to become part of the appropriations bill.
It is important that your representatives vote no on this amendment, if proposed, - and they continue to support an intact IDEA. Let them know that the integrity of IDEA should be preserved.
Also don't forget -- The House needs to be encouraged to expand the appropriations, and of increasing importance is for you to contact your Senators on supporting the $843 million increase in Part B, and the $3 million increase for PTI's.
The Lifetime Caps Discrimination Act has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate bill (S.1114) was introduced on August 1 by Senators Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) and the House bill (H.R. 1807) was introduced in June by Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Many individuals with serious or chronic illnesses are left without insurance when they exceed their lifetime limits. The new legislation would raise the lifetime benefit in health insurance from one million to ten million dollars. The health industry originally provided a one million dollar cap in the 1970's to provide assurances to policy holders that they would be covered regardless of how serious their illness became. Had this one million dollars been indexed for inflation, it would be worth more than the ten million dollars proposed.
Let your Representative know that you support the Lifetime Caps Discrimination Act - to assure that individuals with severe and chronic illnesses get the medical insurance that is necessary and appropriate.
The Social Security Administration has released figures showing that 95,180 children who had been receiving Supplemental Security income (SSI) have lost assistance out of 170,303 cases reviewed, -- a 56 percent termination rate. These reviews are taking place because of restrictions in eligibility included in the 1996 welfare law, although many advocates for children with disabilities have criticized the Clinton administration for interpreting the eligibility standards more stringently than the law required. More than 78,000 (82 percent) of the children denied assistance have mental retardation, emotional or learning disabilities.
While the national average termination rate was 56% as of August 2, some states had a dramatically higher proportion of denied benefits. Mississippi topped the list with 82% of children losing SSI. Other states that terminated more than 70% of children reviewed are: Montana (78.6%), Texas (77.7%), Louisiana (76.1%), Iowa (75.9%), Kansas (75.7%), Arkansas (74.4%), Oklahoma (72.9%), Illinois (71%), and Missouri (70.1%).
NPND is campaigning to get each state to request the names of families that have been notified by the Social Security Administration for "redetermination" or "cut-off" of benefits. The Social Security Administration has offered to share names of families with state agencies to assist them in notifying families of the review. This notification could assure that proper review of the decision could be made without the loss of benefits during the appeal process. A state specific packet for parent leaders is available for each state. This packet will spell out exactly what parent leaders, individual parents and advocates can do to influence state agencies to take steps to assure proper notification to parents and guardians. For further information check the NPND Website at http://www.npnd.org.
NPND IS Moving THIS WEEK and we may be a little harder to reach while we move our "stuff". Bear with us - we should be back up and running by next Friday. Make note of our new address, phone and facsimile numbers.
THE NEW ADDRESS
National Parent Network on Disabilities (NPND)
1200 G Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 434-8686(V/TDD) * (202) 638-0509 (fax)
firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail) * http://www.npnd.org (website)