NASHIA: Washington Weekly, Feb. 1, 2013

Hawaii’s personal injury lawyer, Ian Mattoch, represents people with traumatic brain injuries.  To properly advocate resources for his clients, Ian Mattoch joined the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii and was soon appointed to the Board as well as the State Neurotrauma Advisory Board for the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health.  As the current President of the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii, Ian Mattoch receives updates from the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators.  In this month’s “Washington Weekly” prepared by Susan Vaughn, NASHIA’s Director of Public Policy,she reports the following news:

Administration News
LaHood Announces He Will Step Down as Transporta-tion Secretary. This week, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood, announced his plans to leave the Administration. Under his guidance, the department has put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. In December, the DOT was recognized as the most improved agency in the entire federal government in the 2012 “Best Places to Work” rankings published by the Partnership of Public Service. LaHood will leave once his successor is appointed and confirmed.

NCBDDD Offers Fellowship and Research Opportunities
The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the availability of fellowship and research opportunities for 2013. Information about the fellowship and research opportunities are available on the newly created Disability Research and Dissemination Center (DRDC) website. Both fellowship and research submissions are on-line submissions handled exclusively through the DRDC website.

Federal Rules and Regulations
SAA Issues Rule Governing Use of “Mental Retardation”
On Monday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register stating that it intends to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in the listing of impairments used to evaluate claims involving mental disorders in adults and children under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act) and in other appropriate sections of SSA rules. This change would reflect the widespread adoption of the term “intellectual disability” by Congress, government agencies, and various public and private organizations. Comments to the new rule are due by February 27, 2013. Click here to review the proposed rule and submit comments.

Reports and Resources
DOE Releases Guidance that Playing Sports is a Civil Right for Students with Disabilities. Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new guidance that now requires schools to make  reasonable accommodations that will allow students with disabilities to consistently have opportunities to participate in extracurricular athletics equal to those of other students. The guidance states that access to interscholastic, intramural, and intercollegiate athletics is a civil right. View the guidance from the DOE.

SSA Launches a New Resource Tool. Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) expanded its available resource services with the launch of my Social Security account. Using this
online account, more than 60 million people who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will now be able to immediately request and receive benefit verification letters online. Last year, SSA processed almost nine million benefit verification requests. Beneficiaries will also have access to their payment history and earnings record.

Resource Center Provides Participant-Directed Toolkit to Aging and Disability Networks. The National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS) has developed a toolkit and other resources for the Aging and Disability Network to implement and manage participant-directed programs and services for individuals with disabilities or
who are aging seeking long-term community services and supports. The U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) funded the NRCPDS to create a Program/Operations Toolkit that is now available to serve the Aging and Disability network with an interactive educational resource. It covers both the philosophy of participant direction and the operational elements of a well-developed program; including program design, implementation, and evaluation.

HHS Announces New Look and New Direction for HealthCare.gov Website. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that HealthCare.gov
was re-launched to include new information about the marketplace, where families and small businesses will be able to easily compare and purchase high-quality health insurance plans starting October 1, 2013, with coverage beginning January 1, 2014. Whether individuals are uninsured, or just want to explore new options, the Marketplace will provide individuals with more choices and control over health insurance options.

Other
Connecticut Governor Outlines Plan to Provide LTSS to Persons with Disabilities. On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced a new, “Strategic Plan to Rebalance Long-Term Services and Supports”, which will include a town-by-town projection of long-term care needs and strategies to meet those needs. He also announced that new State and federal funding will now support the expansion of homecare services that will help the elderly and adults with disabilities.

Recognizing the need to shift away from institutional care, Governor Malloy and the legislature added $10 million in bond funding and $3 million in general fund support to the State budget this fiscal year to help nursing facilities “right-size” by diversifying care models, downsizing, and modernizing. The intent is to implement a strategic, coordinated approach to
reducing beds where projections indicate that they will not be needed, and ensuring nursing facilities diversify their services to reflect the home care trends. A request for proposals to help nursing facilities “right-size” by diversifying their business models is under development and will be released in the coming weeks.

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