Date: February 2, 2009
House Passes H.R. 1, the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
On January 28, 2009, the House passed H.R. 1, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” by a vote of 244-188. The bill includes provisions for stimulus payments to SSA beneficiaries, supplemental appropriations for SSA,
and health information technology and the extension of E-Verify. Following Senate passage of economic recovery legislation, it is expected that House and Senate leaders will convene a conference with the aim of getting a final bill to the President's desk before President's Day.
H.R. 1 contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Supplemental Funding for SSA
• Would appropriate an additional $900 million to SSA's Limitation on Administrative Expenses. From this amount:
• $400 million would be for construction and associated costs of a new National Computer Center , and
• $500 million would be for processing disability and retirement workloads. Up to $40 million of this $500 million amount could be used for health information and technology, or for activities to facilitate the adoption of electronic medical records in disability claims.
• Would provide that up to 0.5 percent of each amount appropriated under the legislation could be used for expenses of management and oversight of funded programs, grants, and activities.
• Would make appropriated funds available until September 30, 2010.
• Would provide SSA's Office of Inspector General $2 million for oversight and audit of programs, grants, and projects funded under this Act. This funding would remain available until September 30, 2013.
One-Time Emergency Payment to SSI Recipients
• Would direct the Commissioner, within 120 days of enactment, to make a one-time stimulus payment to SSI recipients who had been eligible for a cash payment in the month of enactment or in either of the two preceding months. Recipients not receiving an SSI cash payment in the month of enactment would be eligible only if nonpayment status was due solely to exceeding the applicable income limit.
• Would allow for payments to be made to individuals who are retroactively found eligible for SSI during the specified months, but no payments would be made beyond calendar year 2009. In addition, no payments would be made to recipients who reside in Medicaid-funded treatment facilities.
• Would provide that individual SSI recipients would receive an amount based upon the average current SSI payment for individuals, while couples would receive the average aggregate amount paid to couples.1
• Would authorize that the one-time payments could be withheld to recover prior SSI overpayments, but they would not be used to reduce any SSI payment due a recipient.
• Would provide that the payment shall not be taken into account as income or taken into account for resources for the month of receipt and the following 6 months, for purposes of determining the eligibility for Federal benefits or federally funded State or local assistance.
• Would provide appropriations as may be necessary to carry out the stimulus payment provisions.
Extension of Basic Pilot Program
• Would extend the Basic Pilot (E-Verify), an employment eligibility confirmation program, for an additional five years, until November 30, 2013.
Reimbursement of Social Security Administration for E-Verify Expenses
• Would provide that agreements entered into by the Commissioner of Social Security and the Secretary of Homeland Security on or after October 1, 2008, shall provide funds to the Commissioner for the full costs of the Commissioner's responsibilities for the basic pilot program. Such responsibilities would include, but would not be limited to:
• Acquiring, installing and maintaining technological equipment and systems necessary for the fulfillment of such responsibilities (but only that portion that is attributable exclusively to those responsibilities); and,
• The costs of responding to individuals who contest a tentative nonconfirmation provided by the basic pilot.
• Would provide that these funds would be paid quarterly in advance of the applicable quarter based on a methodology agreed to by the Commissioner and Secretary.
• Would require an annual accounting and reconciliation of costs incurred and funds provided under the agreement, with a review by the Inspectors General of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
• Would provide that, in any case where an agreement has not been reached by October 1 st of a fiscal year, the latest agreement would remain in force until a new agreement is in effect. However, the Office of Management and Budget would modify the interim agreement to adjust the funds provided to the Commissioner for inflation and the volume of queries.
Verification of Contractors
• Would provide that none of the funds made available under this Act may be used to enter into a contract with an entity that does not participate in the E-verify program .
GAO Study of Basic Pilot Confirmation System
• Would require GAO to study and report on erroneous tentative confirmations to determine their causes, the processes by which they are remedied, and their effects on individuals, employers, and Federal agencies. This report would be submitted, not later than 2 years after the date of enactment, to the Committee of Ways and Means and the Committee of the Judiciary of the House and the Committee of Finance and the Committee of the Judiciary of the Senate.
Health Information Technology (HIT)
• Would establish the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT in the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) and a Chief Privacy Officer in the Office of the National Coordinator.
• Would establish an HIT Policy Committee to make policy recommendations to the National Coordinator.
• Would establish an HIT Standards Committee to make recommendations to the National Coordinator on the standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange of information.
• Would establish requirements for application and use by Federal agencies of the standards and implementation specifications adopted by the National Coordinator. Would require that adopted standards and implementation specifications conform to HIPAA privacy and security law.
• Would establish that the HIT Federal partners listed in the Executive Order issued August 22, 2006, must use adopted standards and implementation specifications when spending on HIT. ( NOTE : SSA is not listed as a Federal partner in this Executive Order.)
• Would establish that the August 22, 2006, Executive Order agencies must require that private entities use Federal standards and implementation specifications when contracting/entering into agreements. ( NOTE : SSA is not listed as a Federal partner in this Executive Order.)
• Would establish that HHS immediately invest in the national HIT infrastructure. Federal agencies and broadly defined projects for investment are listed. ( NOTE: SSA and its specific projects are not mentioned).
• Would authorize HHS to use resources to assist healthcare providers with adopting, implementing, and effectively using electronic health record technology. HHS would establish an HIT Research Center and regional extension centers to assist in doing this.
• Would authorize HHS to award grants to States to promote HIT and for the development of loan programs to facilitate the wide-spread adoption of certified electronic health record technology.
• Would authorize and appropriate such sums as may be necessary to the Secretary of HHS to do all of this for each of the FYs 2009-2013. The funds would be available until expended.
• Would provide an additional amount of $2 billion to the Secretary of HHS to invest in HIT.
1 Approximately $460 and $640, respectively, based on November 2008 payments.