The Equality Act

The Equality Act was reintroduced this past week by Representative David Cicilline (D-R.I.) in the House and is pending before the Judiciary Committee. This bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (federal nondiscrimination law) to include sexual orientation and gender identity to be protected classes and has gained support from over 300 members of Congress. Proponents for the bill argue that discrimination amongst LGBTQ individuals is a persistent issue that impacts the ability to find employment, purchase or rent a home, gain credit and access to education. Opposition groups argue that the bill would politicize medicine by forcing hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for therapies that help transgender people transition. They are also concerned that by allowing people to self-identify gender identity in order to be granted access to certain facilities, such as locker rooms and restrooms, it could potentially put female athletes and students in vulnerable situations.

Dream and Promise Act

The House introduced the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 which would provide undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children the ability to obtain permanent residence. If passed, this act would stop the deportation of these children who are frequently referred to as "dreamers" and immigrants who are protected due to war or natural disaster in their home country. The bill is sponsored by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and is currently pending in the Judiciary Committee.

The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act

Last week Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would help homeless and foster students get the support they need to access and succeed in college. 

It includes the following provisions:

  • Colleges and universities need to work with the federal government to improve outreach and resources that are available for homeless and foster youth
  • Streamlines the FAFSA process and eases the burden of verification
  • Provides students with access to housing options between semesters
  • Offers liaisons to provide services for vulnerable students
  • Requires the U.S Department of Education to publish more transparent data on the number of homeless and foster youth

House Democrats Pushing for Increased Funding for Labor, HHS, and Education

House Democrats will be pushing for a significant increase in federal funding for the Health and Human Services, Labor and Education departments for the fiscal year 2020. This is the largest appropriations bill for non-defense spending and is a top priority for the House. The budget request goes against the president’s suggested budget that would decrease federal funding for these same departments. Earlier this week, House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee chairwoman, Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said: “We’ll be fighting like hell” for a higher top line spending figure for the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.

Source: Bloomberg Government 

HHS Best Practices and Barriers to Engaging People with Substance Use Disorders in Treatment 

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released a study that examines how factors affect health plan performance on the Initiation and Engagement of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence Treatment (IET) measure for both commercial and Medicaid health plans. The report provides some of the best practices and barriers to health plans helping people with substance use disorder access treatment. 

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