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PPACA: HHS Combines Aging and Disability Arms at ACL

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is using a statement of “organization, functions, and delegations of authority” to try to overhaul the way it handles people who need help with the activities of daily living.

HHS is putting several existing agencies, including the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, in a new Administration for Community Living (ACL).

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the Obama administration is forming the ACL to emphasize its commitment to taking a new approach to older people and people with disabilities.

The guiding principle is that “all Americans – including people with disabilities and seniors – should be able to live at home with the supports they need, participating in communities that value their contributions – rather than in nursing homes or other institutions,” Sebelius says in a statement.

The new agency will try to find ways to help keep people in their communities, Sebelius says.

ACL could look at matters such as housing, employment, education and social participation as well as health care, Sebelius says.

The delegation of authority statement is set to appear in the Federal Register Wednesday.

HHS officials say they are reorganizing the agencies to implement other, older laws — the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000, the Help America Vote Act of 2005, and the Elder Justice Act of 2010, one of several components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) that relate to long-term care and disability issues.

The first ACL administrator will be Kathy Greenlee, who is also the HHS assistant secretary for aging. Greenlee ran HHS efforts to organize the voluntary long-term care benefits program described in the ill-fated Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act provision of PPACA.

Greenlee has been the secretary of aging in Kansas and the general counsel of the Kansas insurance department. When Sebelius was governor of Kansas, she was Sebelius’s chief of operations.

The principal deputy ACL administrator is Henry Claypool.


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