NASHIA: Washington Weekly Update, February 8, 2013

As Hawaii’s personal injury lawyer, Ian Mattoch advocates resources for his clients, many have suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of an accident. Ian also serves the community by sharing his knowledge, time and resources by being an officer and board member of the Brain Injury Association of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health Neurotrauma Advisory Board. This week’s update was prepared by Susan L. Vaughn, National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA)’s Director of Public Policy. The following update reports news that affects government in promoting partnerships and building systems to meet the needs of individuals with brain injuries and their families.

Administration News
Blue Ribbon Commission Generates Discussion on NCMRR:
Alex Guttmacher, M.D., January 2013 National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Director’s end-of-the-year blog, includes a discussion of a blue ribbon commission report on rehabilitation research conducted across the National Institutes of Health (NIH) focusing on National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR). The Blue Ribbon Panel was formed last year by NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. The panel focused on whether the NCMRR is accomplishing its mission and whether there are ways to maximize the coordination and outcomes of investments in rehabilitation research across the NIH. According to the panel’s review, NCMRR is meeting its mission, but obstacles remain, including a lack of coordination of rehabilitation research across NIH and other federal agencies conducting medical rehabilitation research, such as NIDRR, VA, DoD and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Also, reflecting on the past year, Dr. Guttmacher reported that the NICHD ‘s extramural programs were reorganized into a single Division of Extramural Research. The reorganization promotes cooperation and exchange of information among branches, making it easier to

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sponsor the interdisciplinary collaborations needed to solve many of the most pressing medical and health challenges. The reorganization also included establishment of two new branches: Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness and Gynecologic Health and Disease.

CDC Announces Disability Research Contract: This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that a $10.2 million disability research contract was awarded to RTI International. The five-year contract will focus research on autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. RTI will support ongoing surveillance and epidemiology work conducted by the Developmental Disabilities Branch of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

HUD Releases Rent Exception Guidelines for People with Disabilities: Last Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released revised temporary rent exception guidelines for people with disabilities. Public Housing Agencies (PHA’s) will continue to be allowed to approve exception rents for units leased by people with disabilities in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program of up to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This policy change is temporary until March 31, 2014 – provided the PHA notifies HUD by e-mail that the PHA is adopting the 120 percent policy. This is a very positive development for people with disabilities seeking to use a HCV to lease a rental unit in the private market. Fully accessible units and rental units with other special features — such as access to public transportation — sometimes have rents that are higher than units without these features.

This change was included as one of several temporary guidelines issued by HUD to “facilitate the ability of PHAs to continue…..the delivery of rental assistance to eligible families.” View HUD PIH Notice 2013-03 (HA).

Federal Grants CMS to Award Grants for State Demonstrations for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a funding opportunity under the grant titled, Implementation Support for State Demonstrations to Integrate Care for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees. This opportunity solicits applications for eligible States to participate in a Cooperative Agreement to support the effective implementation of CMS approved designs to integrate care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. The $95 million grant will support up to 15 States. Funding is only available to States that received a design contract for a Demonstration to Integrate Care for Dual Eligible Individuals and also have a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement their demonstration design. The second round due date is April 1, 2013. The CDFA Number is 93.628; and all applications must be submitted on www.grants.gov.

Resources
DOE Announces New Resources on ESEA Flexibility:
On Wednesday, January 23, the Department of Education released new publications highlighting Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility. Currently, 34 States have received flexibility waivers from the ESEA provisions, and are enacting education reforms in their States particularly around supporting teachers, protecting student accountability, and turning around low-performing schools. Overall, the resources are meant to provide more detail about the waiver program, and a new brochure was made available to outline the “path to [ESEA]
flexibility.” More information is available on the Department of Education’s ESEA Flexibility webpage.

Other
Virginia Lifespan Respite Program Launches New Respite Voucher Program:
On January 29, 2013, the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), the State Lifespan Respite grantee, announced a new respite voucher program. The Virginia Lifespan Respite Voucher Program provides reimbursement vouchers to home-based caregivers for the cost of temporary, short-term respite care provided to people with disabilities (children and adults, including elderly persons). Eligible individuals include Virginia caregivers of children or adults who reside in the same household as the person receiving care. Voucher funding is limited to a total of $400 per family.

The Virginia Lifespan Respite Voucher Program is funded through a federal grant awarded to the Virginia DARS from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Administration Aging –Office of Home and Community Based Services. For details about the program, visit http://www.vadars.org/services.htm.

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