In August, PVA Advocacy staff attended a regional conference sponsored by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to highlight state opportunities to broaden work options for people with disabilities. The conference focused not only on the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act but also on the Workforce Investment Act.
The Ticket to Work Act contains a number of state-level vocational and healthcare provisions intended to help people on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) get work. The Workforce Investment Act consolidates some federal job-training programs and creates stronger ties between those programs and state systems funded under the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.
SSA officials attending the conference reported the proposed regulations for the Ticket to Work program would be out in September, with final regulations issued by the end of the year. The Ticket to Work program phase-in will take place in approximately a dozen states beginning January 2001. SSDI and SSI recipients will be able to obtain "tickets" with which to buy vocational services from the provider of their choice. The Ticket to Work program must be nationally operational by 2004.
PVA staff also joined disability organization representatives and state department of rehabilitative services officials at a conference to discuss implementation of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act. In a panel presentation, Susan Prokop, PVA's associate advocacy director, explained the grants programs available through the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) that are designed to help states set up the Medicaid buy-in in their jurisdictions. Other panelists described the Medicaid buy-in and how advocates can organize in coalitions to prod their state governments to move forward with the state level aspects of the new work incentives law.
The House Veterans Affairs' Health Subcommittee marked up H.R. 5109, previously H.R. 4759, Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Act of 2000, and moved it to the full committee. Among other things, H.R. 5109 would guarantee annual, national comparability pay raises for VA nurses; increase pay for VA dentists and pharmacists; authorize appropriation of $102 million in fiscal years 2001 and 2002 for major construction; and allow VA to conduct a four-site pilot program to address the inpatient healthcare needs of veterans in underserved areas.
The pilot program would allow VA to refer veterans in underserved areas (pilot-program areas only) to local private healthcare facilities as long as they had private or public health insurance and a nonservice-connected healthcare need. VA would pay the veterans' customary co-payments and deductibles not covered under the private or public health insurance plans. The program would be limited to $50 million per year and expire in 2005.
PVA has expressed long-standing concerns over vouchering healthcare and its impact on maintaining a strong centralized healthcare system and support needed to maintain VA's SCI programs. The provision would put VA in the position of being only a partial payer for veterans' healthcare in the private sector, not a provider as is the case now--and has always been. VA would only have limited control of the quality of the healthcare provided and follow-up services veterans require. The vouchering system, while beneficial to some individuals in remote areas, presents severe inequities for other veterans relying on VA-provided services.
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|Title Annotation:||Ticket to Work Act; healthcare vouchering|
|Publication:||PN - Paraplegia News|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2000|
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