“A Slice of Pie” is an ongoing publication keeping readers informed about important public policy issues. It is the mission of the Policy Information Exchange (PIE) to educate and inform Pennsylvanians with disabilities, their families and advocates, and the general public, regarding public policy issues and to further the exchange of policy information between the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and federal, state and local policy makers.
This project (program, publications, etc.) is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council; in part by grant number 1901PASCDD-02 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.
ODP and OMHSAS Release Intellectual/Developmental Disability/Autism Telehealth Report
The Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) and the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) released their findings from a joint project titled “Behavioral Health Telehealth Services for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and/or Autism.” ODP and OMHSAS wanted to better understand the use of behavioral health telehealth services for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism in Pennsylvania. In particular, they sought:
- To outline recommendations to optimize the use of BH telehealth with the ID/A population;
- To increase awareness of Pennsylvania ID/A providers’ and stakeholders’ telehealth use and interest;
- To strengthen ODP and OMHSAS relationships with ID/A stakeholders; and
- To clarify and develop best practices for supporting co-occurring/complex diagnoses for the ID/A population.
ODP and OMHSAS plan to build upon the relationships formed during this process, to continue to improve telehealth as a modality, and to create the foundation to adapt and evolve as technology changes.
Over approximately six months, the Steering Committee met with 139 stakeholders, self-advocates, families, and friends of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism, Behavioral Health providers, and intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism providers. Stakeholders provided feedback on their experience with telehealth for Behavioral Health services, including its benefits, challenges, and opportunities. Participation occurred through an online survey, virtual small group discussions at the Town Hall, and virtual focus group meetings.
The incredible engagement from stakeholders throughout the Behavioral Health Telehealth Services for the intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism project provided vital information for Steering Committee consideration. The candid feedback educated all involved on how individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism experience telehealth in Pennsylvania and is already informing policy change at ODP and OMHSAS. While change takes time, the State is committed to ensuring individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities/autism can access the services they need in the modality they prefer.
Recommendations for Addressing COVID-19 Health Disparities Among the Disability Community
A new report by The Arc of Pennsylvania proposes that the Pennsylvania Department of Health involve the disability community in policy making and healthcare decisions to address health disparities worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Shapiro Announces Rate Assessment
Today, during the National Association of Direct Support Professionals Convention, Governor Shapiro announced that the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) must immediately conduct a rate assessment of current reimbursement rates for ID/A home and community-based services. We will share additional information as it becomes available.
New Pennsylvania Department of Education Policy
Students in Pennsylvania who are eligible under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) may now access a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) until their 22nd birthday. This means that if a student would have traditionally finished high school during or after the school year that they turned 21 years old, they may now remain until they are 22 years old. This includes students that exited school last year in the 2022-2023 school term.
Include Me Looking for Middle Schoolers
Include Me is seeking student presenters for the SAID-IT Program. Watch the recorded Facebook Live video where Include Me shares details about its new program. The SAID-IT program provides creative platforms of expression for middle-school students across Pennsylvania to improve inclusivity in school cultures. This program is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.
PA Master Plan for Older Adults/People with Disabilities – White Paper
“The White Paper is an overview of the origins, development process and the core tenets that are shaping this foundational 10-year aging plan for Pennsylvania and is being offered to aging stakeholders and all interested individuals as a reference guide when formulating and submitting comments on the development of the plan.”
Disability Community Involvement Key to Solving Health Disparities
“The meaningful involvement of people with disabilities at all levels was the first of 10 core solutions recommended to the Pennsylvania Department of Health for it to implement in helping to address COVID-19 health care barriers among people with disabilities, their families, and caregivers. Those barriers were identified in a report last year from the Task Force and The Arc, which identified effects the COVID-19 emergency response had on the disability community.”
PennLive Editorial: When a Governor Shows Compassion that Impacts Thousands of Lives, It’s Reason for High Praise
“Gov. Josh Shapiro has shown considerable compassion in hearing the pleas of thousands of families in Pennsylvania that are caring for loved ones with intellectual disabilities. These families have been begging for help for years, and they were facing catastrophe.”
Transforming Community Living (Virtual Event) – October 26, 2023
Join Western Pennsylvania Disability History and Action Consortium for a morning of empowerment, education, and discussion as it examines the development of home- and community-based services and looks to the future. The consortium is excited to present an engaging program featuring two impactful short films: a keynote address by a distinguished guest, and a thought-provoking panel discussion with experts in the field.
Pennsylvania Home and Community Based Services Transition Plan
Pennsylvania’s Final Statewide Transition Plan was approved by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 24, 2023.
Pennsylvania Workforce Plan Listening Sessions
The PA Workforce Development Board invites you to provide input on Pennsylvania’s 2024-2028 workforce development strategies for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state plan. There are three in-person sessions available and one virtual session. Please click on the link below to learn.
Inside Aging Newsletter
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging has released their newsletter with information regarding important upcoming events, updates, and legislative updates.
Governor Shapiro Proclaims October 2023 as Down Syndrome Awareness Month
Governor Shapiro has proclaimed October 2023 as Down Syndrome Awareness Month. “In support of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their families, advocates, researchers, and medical professionals, I encourage all Pennsylvanians to work together to promote respect and inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome and to celebrate their accomplishments and contributions.”
Shapiro Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians and Providers that Medicaid, CHIP Cover COVID-19 Test, Vaccine, and Treatment Costs
Medicaid, including the Medicaid managed care organizations, is required to provide coverage for COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine administration, testing, treatment, and stand-alone vaccine counseling for beneficiaries under 21, without cost sharing, at least through September 30, 2024. This includes new booster shots as they are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, Medicaid must cover all types of FDA-approved COVID-19 diagnostic and screening tests, including those done at testing sites, at home tests that are sent to a laboratory for processing, and at-home tests that do not require a laboratory.
In addition to free testing available through Medicaid, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that beginning September 25, 2023, all U.S. households can order four free at-home tests to be delivered to them.
Governor Shapiro Proclaims October 2023 as Disability Employment Awareness Month
Governor Shapiro has proclaimed October 2023 as Disability Employment Awareness Month to “encourage all Pennsylvanians to provide their support in hiring and retaining workers with disabilities.”
Bills of Interest
Below we summarize some bills of interest to the disability community from the 2023-2024 Session. For more information about these bills or any other state legislative activity, go to https://www.legis.state.pa.us/.
HB 611. Introduced by Representative Jordan A. Harris (D-Philadelphia). Budget bill for the fiscal year July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. Signed in House, July 5, 2023. Signed in Senate, Aug. 3, 2023. Approved by the Governor, Aug. 3, 2023, Becoming Act No. 1A of 2023, Aug. 3, 2023.
(Line Item Veto) Referred to House Rules, Sept. 22, 2023.
Impact: 2023-2024 fiscal year budget bill.
HB 1587. Introduced by Representative Joe Webster (D-Montgomery). This bill would require high schools to hire professional transition coordinators to ensure students with disabilities are ready and able to take on a new career. Referred to Education, July 25, 2023.
Impact: Require at least one transition coordinator in each high school so that students with disabilities can gain help in finding a job.
HB 1593. Introduced by Representative Danielle Otten (D-Chester). This bill would expand access to Early Intervention services for children born to mothers at high-risk for or diagnosed with postpartum depression and children who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Voted favorably from House Children and Youth, October 4, 2023.
Impact: Expand access to Early Intervention for mothers and children.
HB 1668. Introduced by Representative Robert W. Mercuri (R-Allegheny). This bill would amend Title 75 (Vehicles) to allow the option for an individual who is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder to request to have a notation of their diagnosis placed on their driver’s license or identification card. Referred to Transportation, Sept. 12, 2023.
Impact: Would allow individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders to choose if they would like to have a notation on ID that indicates their diagnosis.
HB 1680. Introduced by Representative Christina D. Sappey (D-Chester). This bill would provide for deaf and hard of hearing education in terms of courses of study. Referred to Education, Sept. 13, 2023.
Impact: Help to educate on hearing loss prevention and associated stigma by requiring the PA Department of Education to create hearing curriculum that school districts may choose to offer.
HB 301. Introduced by Representative Patrick J. Harkins (D-Erie). This bill would remove derogatory terms/language from the PA School Code. Referred to Education, March 10, 2023. Third consideration and Final Passage, April 26, 2023. Referred to Senate Education, May 3, 2023. Re-referred to Senate Appropriations, June 7, 2023.
Impact: Would remove the use of derogatory terms and language in the PA School Code.
HB 342. Introduced by Representative Dan L. Miller (D-Allegheny). This bill would provide for students with disabilities at institutions of higher education. Referred to Human Services, March 13, 2023.
Impact: Would improve the transition to post-secondary schools for students with disabilities by incorporating parts of Senator Bob Casey’s federal RISE (Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower) Act.
HB 348. Introduced by Representative Dan L. Miller (D-Allegheny). This bill would adopt a streamlined hiring and promotion process for qualified individuals with significant disabilities whose physical or mental impairments impact their ability to participate in the competitive hiring and promotion process. Referred to Labor and Industry, March 13, 2023.
Impact: May allow for an individual with a disability to be appointed to a temporary position, or trial work period, so that the individual may be observed performing the duties of said job.
HB 409. Introduced by Representative John T. Galloway (D-Bucks). This bill would establish a mental health care services clearinghouse. This clearinghouse will serve as a publicly accessible registry of mental health care resources available across the Commonwealth and will accordingly assist school personnel in connecting families to community mental health resources. Referred to Human Services, March 14, 2023. Final passage, May 23, 2023. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services, June 2, 2023.
Impact: Streamlines and makes a publicly accessible site for information on mental health care services that are available in Pennsylvania. This clearinghouse would increase coordination efforts among schools, communities, and mental health providers.
HB 500. Introduced by Representative Brandon J. Markosek (D-Allegheny). This bill would require the Department of State to provide special absentee ballots printed in braille to qualified voters who submit a written request for a special ballot. Referred to State Government, March 17, 2023.
Impact: Provides absentee ballots printed in braille.
HB 503. Introduced by Representative Nancy Guenst (D-Montgomery). This bill would protect all Pennsylvanians against discrimination and provide equal opportunity, regardless of marital status or family caregiver status in employment, housing, and public accommodation. Referred to State Government, March 17, 2023. Re-committed to Rules, June 28, 2023.
Impact: Prohibits hiring discrimination against caregivers.
HB 537. Introduced by Representative Ann Flood (R-Northampton). This will would require the Departments of Health, Human Services, and Aging to communicate on a regular basis to ensure that any reports of elder abuse which are made to any agency listed are placed in the correct location to be properly investigated. Referred to Aging and Older Adults Services, March 20, 2023.
Impact: Streamline the process of investigating elder abuse.
HB 661. Introduced by Representative Dan L. Miller (D-Allegheny). This bill would provide for intellectual disability and autism fee schedule rates. Referred to Human Services, March 21, 2023.
Impact: Would amend the Human Services Code requiring that rates for Direct Support Professionals annually be set based on a national market consumer index.
HB 705. Introduced by Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). This bill would provide for definitions, for eligibility and for the medically needy and determination of eligibility. Referred to Human Services, March 27, 2023.
Impact: Would provide emergency relief to those who previously received support through General Assistance (GA).
HB 715. Introduced by Representative Carol Kazeem (D-Delaware). This bill would enhance oversight of personal care homes. Referred to Human Services, March 27, 2023.
Impact: Require unannounced inspections of personal care homes with three or fewer residents.
HB 806. Introduced by Representative Liz Hanbidge (D-Montgomery). This bill would improve access to voting for people with disabilities. Referred to State Government, April 3, 2023.
Impact: Increase accessibility of voting by allowing ballots to be brought outside.
HB 808. Introduced by Representative Liz Hanbidge (D-Montgomery). This bill would require that Pennsylvanians deemed eligible for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver program receive their HCBS waiver benefits no later than 90 days after eligibility for Medicaid. Referred to Human Services, April 3, 2023.
Impact: End the waitlist for HCBS to ensure that people receive a waiver 90 days after eligibility.
HB 849. Introduced by Representative Michael H. Schlossberg (D-Lehigh). This bill would provide for adult mental health program funding. Referred to Human Services, April 10, 2023. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services, June 14, 2023. Also, see SB 605.
Impact: Would allocate funds to mental health services and workforce development.
HB 844. Introduced by Representative Ed Neilson (D-Philadelphia). This bill would establish the Long-Term Services and Supports Commission, the Long-Term Services and Supports Council and the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Fund, imposing duties on the Department of Human Services and the Department of Revenue and imposing a payroll premium. Referred to Human Services, April 10, 2023.
Impact: Established a fund to provide up to $36,500 in lifetime benefits to eligible beneficiaries for long term care services, such as respite care, in-home caregiving, time in a nursing home/assisted living facility, or home modifications.
HB 876. Introduced by Representative Mike Cabell (R-Luzerne). This bill would require any provider which seeks to operate in the Medicaid program use either an National Provider Identifier (NPI) or register for State Provider Indentifier (SPI). The Department of Human Services would be required to establish a standardized program for any company which lacks an NPI and must register for provider identification with the state. Referred to Human Services April 10, 2023. Re-committed to Rules, July 5, 2023.
Impact: Would require providers to register for provider identification with the state.
HB 1100. Introduced by Representative Steve Samuelson (D-Northampton). This bill would raise the income limit for senior tax/rent rebate. Referred to Finance May 3, 2023. Signed in House, July 5, 2023.
Impact: Would increase income limits for the Property Tax / Rent Rebate Program.
HB 1104. Introduced by Representative Tarik Khan (D-Philadelphia). This bill would prohibit the charging of event admission fees for personal care attendants of persons with disabilities, and imposing penalties. Referred to Human Services, May 5, 2023. Referred to Tourism and Economic and Recreational Development, June 22, 2023. Also, see SB 735.
Impact: Require waived admission fees for personal care attendants of people with disabilities.
HB 1184. Introduced by Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin). This bill would extend Pennsylvania’s premier prescription drug assistance programs for seniors (PACE/PACENET) cost of living adjustment moratorium to December 31, 2025, allowing thousands of older Pennsylvanians to retain the benefit of PACE and PACENET. Referred to Aging and Older Adults Services, May 18, 2023. Referred to Senate Aging and Youth June 26, 2023. Also, see SB 607.
Impact: Would benefit nearly 29,400 seniors in PA by extending the prescription drug assistance programs for seniors to 2025 instead of 2023.
HB 1214. Introduced by Representative Tarah Probst (D-Munroe). This bill would direct a school entity to determine whether a child is a child with a disability under Federal law. Referred to Education, May 22, 2023.
Impact: Require schools to do an initial evaluation to determine whether a child has a disability.
HB 1218. Introduced by Representative Melissa Cerrato (D-Montgomery). This bill would provide for payments for spousal personal care services. Referred to Human Services, May 24, 2023. Third consideration and final passage, July 7, 2023. Referred to Senate Health and Human Services, July 17, 2023.
Impact: Would establish a program to allow spouse caregivers to receive payments.
HB 1294. Introduced by Representative Ismail Smith-Wade-El (D-Lancaster). This bill would create a Commonwealth Housing Council to develop a uniform housing strategy. Referred to Housing and Community Development, June 1, 2023. Also, see SB 376.
Impact: Create a Commonwealth Housing Council to develop housing goals, benchmarks, and priorities.
HB 1300. Introduced by Representative Thomas L. Mehaffie (R-Dauphin). This bill would add the Long-Term Care Ombudsman to the Long-Term Care Council. Referred to Aging and Adult Services, May 20, 2023. Referred to Senate Aging and Youth, June 25, 2023. Re-referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee, June 28, 2023.
Impact: By adding a Long-Term Care Ombudsman to the Long-Term Care Council, this would allow for stronger advocacy of the older adult community.
HB 1305. Introduced by Representative Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia). This bill would provide for behavioral health crisis intervention; and establishing the 988 Fund. Referred to Human Services, June 2, 2023. Referred to Health and Human Services, June 29, 2023.
Impact: Establish funding for PA’s 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
HB 1397. Introduced by Representative Darisha K. Parker (D-Philadelphia). This bill would strengthen Pennsylvania’s Guardianship Law. Referred to Judiciary, June 13, 2023.
Impact: Help prevent fraud, abuse, and exploitation in PA’s guardianship system.
HB 1421. Introduced by Representative Benjamin V. Sanchez (D-Montgomery). This bill would allow an individual on the autism spectrum to receive a notation on their driver’s license or identification card indicating their condition. This notation will alert emergency responders to the individual’s condition and allow them to interact with the person more appropriately. This bill will also establish an account to which individuals applying for a driver’s license or identification card may give a voluntary $3 contribution. These funds will be used in providing education and training to working professionals who interact with individuals on the autism spectrum. Referred to Transportation, June 15, 2023.
Impact: Would allow individuals with autism to receive a notation on their driver’s license or identification card indicating their autism diagnosis.
HB 1495. Introduced by Representative Paul Friel (D-Chester). This bill would provide for special education in charter schools. Referred to Education, June 22, 2023.
Impact: This would change the funding of charter schools to be determined by the total number of special education students who live in that school district.
HB 1527. Introduced by Representative Benjamin V. Sanchez (D-Montgomery). This bill would increase the Personal Needs Allowance deduction for medical assistance-eligible persons in nursing facilities. Referred to Aging and Adult Services, June 27, 2023.
Impact: Increase the personal needs allowance deduction from $45 per month to $60 per month for Medical Assistance eligible residents living in nursing facilities.
HB 1537. Introduced by Representative Barbara Gleim (R-Cumberland). This bill would increase the age of minor consent to treat for medical, dental, and mental health conditions from 14 to 16 years of age. In addition, the legislation would also have an exemption for special need individuals who may not be capable of making important medical decisions on their own without parental guidance. Referred to Health, June 28, 2023.
Impact: Increase the age of minor consent from 14 to 16 years old, with an exemption for children with certain disabilities.
HB 1545. Introduced by Representative Joe Hogan (R-Bucks). This bill would create the digital mental health services pilot program in the Department of Education (PDE). Referred to Education, June 29, 2023.
Impact: Requires the Department of Education to create a digital mental health services pilot program in which 50 schools could participate.
SB 119. Introduced by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York). This bill would integrate behavioral health and physical health services in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, HealthChoices. Referred to Health and Human Services, January 18, 2023.
Impact: Would coordinate mental health, substance abuse and primary care services to produce the best outcomes and best care for people with complex health needs.
SB 376. Introduced by Senator Vincent J. Hughes (D-Montgomery). This bill would establish a Commonwealth Housing Council. Referred to Urban Affairs and Housing, February 16, 2023. Also, see HB 1294.
Impact: Establish a Commonwealth Housing Council to develop housing goals and create a resource guide.
SB 401. Introduced by Senator Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny). This bill would change Pennsylvania’s voting system so that all elections would be conducted entirely by mail. It would also plan to add a provision that would require ballot drop boxes be placed in every municipality building. Referred to State Government, March 15, 2023.
Impact: Would make all voting be done by mail-in ballots.
SB 451. Introduced by Senator Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia). This bill would amend Title 71 and give people with disabilities additional points on the State Civil Service Exam. Referred to State Government, March 14, 2023.
Impact: By giving additional points to people with disabilities on the State Civil Service Exam, Pennsylania would be a leader in disability hiring.
SB 452. Introduced by Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia). This bill would create the Office for People with Disabilities within and to be administered by the Office of the Governor and make the office permanent by statute. Referred to State Government, March 14, 2023.
Impact: Would permanently establish the Office for People with Disabilities within and to be administered by the Office of the Governor.
SB 506. Introduced by Senator Lisa Baker (R –Luzerne). This bill would strengthen the state’s guardianship laws. Referred to Senate Judiciary on March 14, 2023. Referred to House Judiciary, June 27, 2023.
Impact: This bill would work to make sure that situations regarding abuse and exploitation in guardianship are prevented across the state by limiting guardianship to a last resort option.
SB 511. Introduced by Senator Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia). This bill would provide Insurance Coverage for Wheelchair Maintenance. Referred to Health and Human Services, March 15, 2023.
Impact: Would require that wheelchair users in the Commonwealth, whether publicly or privately insured, have access to two wheelchair maintenance well-visits per year covered by their insurance
SB 605. Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery). This bill would provide for adult mental health program funding. Referred to Health and Human Services, April 19, 2023. Also, see HB 849.
Impact: Would allocate funds to mental health services and workforce development.
SB 607. Introduced by Senator Judy Ward (R-Blair). This bill would extend the PACE/PACENET cost of living adjustment (COLA) moratorium to December 31, 2025, allowing thousands of older Pennsylvanians to retain the benefit of PACE and PACENET. Referred to Senate Aging and Youth April 28, 2023. Referred to House Aging and Older Adults Services, June 20, 2023. Also, see HB 1184.
Impact: Would benefit nearly 29,400 seniors in PA by extending the prescription drug assistance programs for seniors to 2025 instead of 2023.
SB 735. Introduced by Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery). This bill would prohibit the charging of event admission fees for personal care attendants of people with disabilities; and imposing penalties. Referred to Health and Human Services, June 6, 2023. Also, see HB 1104.
Impact: Require waived event admission fees for personal care attendants of people with disabilities.
SB 813. Introduced by Senator Michele Brooks (R-Crawford). This bill would allow constituents to obtain a disability placard in their respective legislative district offices rather than waiting to receive them in the mail. Referred to Transportation, June 14, 2023.
Impact: Would allow individuals to obtain handicap parking placards in their respective legislative district offices rather than receiving them in the mail.
SB 840. Introduced by Senator Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe). This bill would establish the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Division, the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Committee and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders State Plan; and making an appropriation. Referred to Aging and Youth, July 11, 2023.
Impact: Expand the way in which PA addresses Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorder Division (ADRD) by establishing a permanent division and an advisory committee.
SB 855. Introduced by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams). This bill would create a statewide registry of perpetrators of abuse in facilities. Referred to Aging and Youth, July 27, 2023.
Impact: Establishment of a list of individuals who were found to have committed abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation of older adults in facilities.
HR 191. Introduced by Representative Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia). This resolution would recognize October 2023 as “Special Needs Law Month”. Referred to House Human Services, August 29, 2023.
Impact: By recognizing “Special Needs Law Month,” Pennsylvania can raise awareness for vital resources that provide financial assistance to individuals with special needs and their loved ones.
HR 188. Introduced by Representative Stephen Kinsey (D-Philadelphia). This resolution would designate September 10 – 16 as “Direct Support Professionals Week” in Pennsylvania. Reported as committed from House Human Services, October 4, 2023.
Impact: By designating a “Direct Support Professionals Week,” professionals can be recognized for their important work.
HR 38. Introduced by Representative Dan L. Miller (D-Allegheny). This Resolution would conduct a study on public transportation services for individuals with disabilities, establish a legislative task force and advisory committee and issue a report of findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives. Referred to Transportation, March 13, 2023.
Impact: Directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish a legislative task force on public transportation efficacy, with a specific focus on the impact of Pennsylvania’s current delivery of services to individuals with disabilities.
HR 165. Introduced by Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin). This Resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study on the effect of workforce shortages on State supported Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver programs and the Pennsylvania Lottery funded OPTIONS programs in the Commonwealth. Referred to Aging and Adult Services, June 27, 2023. Adopted in House, October 3, 2023
Impact: Will examine wage rates for home health aides, personal care attendants, direct support professionals, older adult daily living center providers, and community-based mental health providers in the HCBS system.
HR166. Introduced by Representative Joe Hogan (R-Bucks). This Resolution designates the month of July 2023 as “Disability Pride Month” in Pennsylvania. Referred to Human Services, June 27, 2023. Reported as committed, June 28, 2023.
Impact: Designates the month of July 2023 as “Disability Pride Month” in Pennsylvania.
HR 174. Introduced by Representative James B. Struzzi II (R-Indiana). This Resolution directs the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study and issue a report on the current status, management and implementation of mass or public transit in Pennsylvania’s rural communities. Referred to Transportation, July 7, 2023.
Impact: Would direct a comprehensive study on public transit in rural PA.
SR 35. Introduced by Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia). This Resolution designates the month of March 2023 as “Disability Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania. Referred to Rules and Executive Nominations, Feb. 21, 2023.
Impact: Designates the month of March 2023 as “Disability Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Proposed Rule
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced a rule proposed by the HHS Office for Civil Rights that would update regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehab Act of 1973, which prohibits disability discrimination by recipients of federal funding. This is the first comprehensive update in over 40 years.
Highlights of these proposed changes include:
- Discrimination in medical treatment
- Accessibility of medical equipment
- Web, mobile app, and kiosk accessibility
- Child welfare programs and activities
- Community integration
- Value assessments methods
The comment period ends on November 13th, 2024.
October 2023: National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities past and present and showcases supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices that benefit employers and employees. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has chosen “Advancing Access and Equity” as the theme for NDEAM 2023.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Designated People with Disabilities as a Population with Health Disparities
“This designation recognizes the importance and need for research advances to improve our understanding of the complexities leading to disparate health outcomes and multilevel interventions,” said Dr. Pérez-Stable. “Toward this effort, NIMHD and other NIH institutes launched a new research program to better understand the health disparities faced by people with disabilities who are also part of other populations designated as having health disparities.”
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Turns 50
“September 26, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the first civil rights legislation protecting disabled people from discrimination. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs receiving federal financial assistance or conducted by federal agencies, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors.”
Examining 50 Years of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, there have been substantial changes to the legal landscape for workers with disabilities fueled by the advocacy of the disability rights community, often with bipartisan support. Notably, in 1990, the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted, prohibiting discrimination based on disability in the workplace and mainstreaming the concept of reasonable accommodations. In 1999, the Supreme Court issued the historic decision in Olmstead, interpreting the ADA to require public entities to provide qualified individuals with disabilities services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Finally, since 2014, Section 511 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) places important limits on the ability of employers to pay subminimum wages to workers with disabilities under section 14(c) certificates.
Disability Voting Rights Week
Disability Voting Rights Week is September 11-15. This is a time to build advocacy power through voter registration, voter education, and community engagement. If people with disabilities voted at the same rate as people without disabilities, there would be 2 million more voters. Unfortunately, 1 in 7 voters with disabilities had difficulty voting in 2022, up from 1 in 9 in 2020. We must break down barriers and make voting accessible.
Input Needed: Proposed Regulations for Adult Protective Services Programs
Administration for Community Living (ACL) is seeking input on a proposed rule to establish the first-ever federal regulations for adult protective services (APS) programs. APS programs across the country support older adults and adults with disabilities who experience, or who are at risk of, abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation. APS programs investigate reports of maltreatment; conduct case planning, monitoring, and evaluation; and provide, or connect people who have experienced maltreatment to, a variety of medical, social service, economic, legal, housing, law enforcement, and other protective, emergency, or support services to help them recover. Over the past decade, ACL has led federal efforts to support the critical work of APS programs through a variety of initiatives.
THE PIE TEAM+
THE ARC OF PENNSYLVANIA PIE STAFF: