PCPID Quarterly Meeting: August 16, 2011
President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
- The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)
- Announcements, Meeting Announcements, Publication (Documents and Resources), Meeting Minutes
- Meeting Minutes, Meeting Announcement
Minutes: Summary of Proceedings
Greetings, Call to Order and Agenda Review
Sharon Lewis, ADD Commissioner, PCPID Designated Federal Official
Jim Brett, PCPID Chair
Dr. Deborah Spitalnik, Co-Chair of the Working Group on Report Topic and Themes
Peter Berns, Co-Chair of the Working group on Report Topic and Themes
Commissioner Sharon Lewis welcomed Committee members and called the meeting to order. Ms. Lewis reminded members that an agenda for the day’s conference call was sent out by staff during the previous week. She turned the meeting over to Chairman James Brett.
Chairman Brett began by commending Ms. Allison Hillman de Velasquez and Ms. Carol Quirk for leading their respective Working Groups. He also thanked Dr. Deborah Spitalnik and Mr. Peter Berns for their work and support as co-chairs of the PCPID Subcommittee on the Report Topic and Themes. He then turned the meeting over to Dr. Spitalnik and Mr. Berns.
Dr. Spitalnik briefly reviewed the meeting agenda. She asked Commissioner Lewis to indicate the time that she would like to give an overview of the Budget Control Act and its impact on the work of the Committee. Commissioner Lewis deferred to the co-chairs, as the leaders of the discussion, to set the time. Dr. Spitalnik stated it would be best to begin with the Commissioner’s overview so that the Committee may make an informed decision about how to progress on the 2011 Report to the President.
Overview of the Budget Control Act
Commissioner Sharon Lewis
Commissioner Lewis pointed out that the impact of the Budget Control Act, and the Super Committee, was unclear since the work of the Super Committee had recently begun. She noted that the legislation was unprecedented, as it addresses the debt ceiling and establishes a Super Committee to address reduction of the budget deficit for the next decade. She stated that certain financial targets, which the Appropriations Committee must reach, are significantly lower than the President’s proposed budget for FY2012. Commissioner Lewis outlined how the first round of budget cuts were to be equally divided between domestic/discretionary and security spending. This equal distribution would only be required during the first round, and could be adjusted in future rounds. She added that mandatory spending such as Medicaid, Social Security and other programs related to eradication of poverty are protected from the first round of cuts. She stated that the responsibility of the Super Committee is to set a plan, by November 23, 2011, that will make at least $1.2 trillion worth of cuts to the budget deficit. If the Super Committee can produce a plan that is supported by seven of its member by the November 23rd deadline, the plan will immediately go through a streamlined process to the House of Representatives and the Senate for up-or-down voting, without the opportunity for members of Congress to make additional amendments. If the legislation is passed by both the House and the Senate, then it will go to the President for signing. The Commissioner added that, should the plan designed by the Super Committee fail, the legislation has a built-in fail-safe policy that will enact budget cuts across-the-board beginning in January 2013.
Chairman Brett stated that, from his understanding, discretionary programs would be cut by $44 billion in the first year. Commissioner Lewis clarified that it would be $34 billion in discretionary program cuts because of savings in Pell grants. Mr. Brett asked if the Super Committee could make cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. Commissioner Lewis replied that the Super Committee had a variety of options open to it which include cuts to entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare as well as tax revenue options. Chairman Brett stated that this was an important factor for Committee members to remember, if decision is made to pursue the topic of ACA/Medicaid for the 2011 Report.
Dr. Spitalnik clarified that Medicaid/Medicare are entitlement programs, while programs from the Administration for Developmental Disabilities (ADD) are discretionary programs. Commissioner Lewis explained that discretionary programs are all programs that are funded by grants, including not only ADD but also programs related to education (both IDEA and ESEA), housing, and employment. Funding for these programs is determined by the appropriation bills approved by Congress. Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs are mandatory programs for which overall funding is determined by enrollment of eligible individuals and state take-up. In order to achieve the necessary cuts, the Super Committee will determine the make-up of the appropriation bills for the next 10 years. She added that the degree of specificity in how these cuts are achieved may be determined by Congress
Ms. Elizabeth Weintraub asked whether poverty programs could be cut. Commissioner Lewis clarified that the legislation protects certain entitlement programs from the first round of cuts only. After this first round of cuts, the Super Committee is allowed to make cuts to these programs. If the Super Committee’s proposal is not passed, however, the protected low-income entitlement programs will not be affected by the automatic, across-the-board cuts. The only exception will be Medicare, which could be cut up to 2% in provider rates.
Chairman Brett asked which process would protect more programs for people with intellectual disabilities from budget cuts. Commissioner Lewis replied that Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare may be more protected under across-the-board cuts. Dr. Spitalnik added that these programs would not be as protected, functionally, because states could potentially cutback on optional services under Medicaid as they provide about half of the funding for these programs.
Commissioner Lewis elaborated that Medicaid maintenance of effort as established under the ACA applies to eligibility and not services, which would allow states to make the cuts mentioned by Dr. Spitalnik.
Ms. Weintraub asked Committee members advice regarding what she should recommend to her fellow self-advocates. Commissioner Lewis suggested that self-advocates determine the most important services for people with intellectual disabilities, as there may not be enough money for everything.