Report on the 2016 Omnibus Spending Bill
Last week, Congress passed the 2016 Spending Bill. Several VOR members have been working with the Labor Health & Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee to try to get protective language written into the bill that would favor VOR's positions on choice and the rights of the I/DD population. While we succeeded in the House, the Senate LHHS Subcommittee did not agree and the House language was changed.
While we did not achieve the language we wanted, we did achieve some language which will hopefully be a step forward in bringing pressure on the Administration to address our grievances with federal policies which allow federal funds to support law suits brought in the name of individuals with cognitive deficits without their legal guardians’ approval.
There are two sections in the omnibus spending bill that pertain to our incapacitated loved ones.
Below is the included report language which can be found on page 62 of the Labor/HHS Appropriations:
Medicaid-Licensed Intermediate Care Facilities -"There is a nationwide trend towards deinstitutionalization of patients with intellectual or developmental disabilities in favor of community-based settings. The Department is strongly urged to continue to factor the needs and desire of patients, their families, caregivers, and other stakeholders, as well as the need to provide proper settings for care, into its enforcement of the Developmental Disabilities Act. The agreement includes bill language requiring notification of affected individuals of their legal rights in this regard."
The section about the protection and advocacy program begins on page 926 of Omnibus Spending Bill, line 14:
"Provided further, That applicants shall provide an assurance that, and information describing the manner in which, the alternative financing program will expand and emphasize consumerchoice and control: Provided further, That State agenciesand community-based disability organizations that are directed by and operated for individuals with disabilitiesshall be eligible to compete: Provided further, That in addition, the unobligated balance of amounts previously madeavailable for the Health Resources and Services Administration to carry out functions under sections 1252 and1253 of the PHS Act shall be transferred to this account,except for such sums as may be necessary to provide foran orderly transition of such functions to the Administration for Community Living: Provided further, That noneof the funds made available under this heading may beused by an eligible system (as defined in section 102 ofthe Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with MentalIllness Act (42 U.S.C. 10802)) to continue to pursue anylegal action in a Federal or State court on behalf of anindividual or group of individuals with a developmentaldisability (as defined in section 102(8)(A) of the Developmental Disabilities and Assistance and Bill of Rights Actof 2000 (20 U.S.C. 15002(8)(A)) that is attributable toa mental impairment (or a combination of mental andphysical impairments), that has as the requested remedythe closure of State operated intermediate care facilitiesfor people with intellectual or developmental disabilities,unless reasonable public notice of the action has been provided to such individuals (or, in the case of mental incapacitation, the legal guardians who have been specificallyawarded authority by the courts to make healthcare andresidential decisions on behalf of such individuals) who areaffected by such action, within 90 days of instituting suchlegal action, which informs such individuals (or such legalguardians) of their legal rights and how to exercise suchrights consistent with current Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Provided further, That the limitations in the immediately preceding proviso shall not apply in the case of anindividual who is neither competent to consent nor has alegal guardian, nor shall the proviso apply in the case ofindividuals who are a ward of the State or subject to public guardianship."