AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 23, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
   June 23, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 25
  
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Autism CARES Act

Great news! The House bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act - now Autism CARES Act (H.R.4631) -- is expected to be passed by the full House of Representative tomorrow June 24.  The bill will be brought up on the suspension calendar, meaning no floor debates or amendments. The Senate bill (S.2449), is tentatively scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday June 25. This is great news for people with developmental disabilities who have benefited greatly from the additional resources provided by this law for interdisciplinary training of health professionals, research to better understand autism and other disabilities, and a stronger focus on awareness and information dissemination.  Following the Senate Committee markup, it is hoped that the bill will be considered by the full Senate before the July 4 recess.  For more information, see AUCD's public policy site or contact Kim Musheno. To urge action or thank your Members, see AUCD's action alert.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

In more good news, late last week, the Senate reached an agreement to bring the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act H.R.803 to the floor as early as this week. This bill will reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. After accepting the Murray-Isakson-Harkin-Alexander compromise bill as an amendment, the bill will be agreed to by unanimous consent (no votes).  The next step will be for the full House of Representatives to take up the bill, hopefully under a similar fast-track procedure.  (See also news article with quote from AUCD executive Andy Imparato.)  For more information and to take action, see AUCD's action alert.

Community Living

Olmstead Anniversary

On Tuesday, June 24 the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will hold a roundtable called "Moving Toward Greater Community Inclusion - Olmstead at 15." Witnesses include Emmanuel Smith, PABSS (Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security) Advocate at Disability Rights Iowa; Ricardo & Donna Thornton, self-advocates from Washington, DC; Norma Robertson-Dabrowski , Director of Nursing Home Transitions at Liberty Resources in Philadelphia; Gail Godwin , Executive Director of Shared Support Maryland; and Dr. Troy Justesen , Director of Public Policy for the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council.

On Friday, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services held a joint event to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the US Supreme Court Olmstead decision. The event and anniversary was also featured on the White House blog. Speakers included individuals and families affected by the decision, new HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Deputy Assistant Secretary Sharon Lewis, and Anthony Antosh, Director of the Paul V. Sherlock Center at Rhode Island College (UCEDD). The event included a video compiled by the Department of Justice about the lives improved by the decision; it will be released soon. (see also the Twitter chat from the event under #Olmstead15)

Direct Support Workforce

The Department of Labor has released Administrator Interpretation and an associated fact sheets regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and home care workers. Specifically, it addresses joint employment of home care workers in consumer-directed Medicaid programs and the conditions under which the state or a provider agency qualifies as the employer for purposes of wage and hour protections. These FLSA protections for home care workers are set to take effect January of 2015. More information about the implementation of rule is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/homecare.

Social Security

Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced the Retirement and Income Security Enhancements (RAISE) Act (S. 2445). The bill makes targeted enhancements to Social Security benefits, particularly for dependent beneficiaries. It increases benefits for divorced spouses and survivors and restores survivor benefits to college students. To pay for these enhanced benefits, the bill proposes a 4% payroll tax (split between employee and employer) on income above $400,000; under current law income above $117,000 is not subject to the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax.

Hearing on the Reduction in Face-to-Face Services at the Social Security Administration

AUCD staff attended a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on the reduction in face-to-face services at the Social Security Administration (SSA) on June 18. The hearing was led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). The focus of the hearing was the impact on beneficiaries of SSA's reduction of person-to-person services, including closing field offices. Nancy Berryhill, deputy commissioner for operations at SSA testified that the closures of offices and reductions in services were the result of budgetary cuts and increasing demand for online services.  She went on to say that there are three alternatives to face to face services which are: phone, online and video services. Other witnesses included Witnesses were Tammy DeLong, Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, Presque Isle, ME; Scott Hale, President, National Council of Social Security Management Associations; Brenda Holt, Commissioner, Gadsden County, FL.  Visit the Committee website to view archived videos of the hearing, opening statements b y Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME), and written testimony.  Additionally, a Committee staff memo summarizes the Committee's investigation into face-to-face service reductions in advance of the hearing.

President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities

The White House has announced new members of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), including several new members with connections to the AUCD Network. New members include Dan Habib, Filmmaker and Project Director of the Inclusive Communities Project at the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability; Betty Williams, Consumer Education and Training Coordinator at The Arc of Indiana and former President of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE); Stacey Milbern, Program Manager at the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, CA and Project Coordinator at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network; Susana Ramirez, Special Education Advocate at Disability Rights Oregon; James T. Brett, President and CEO of The New England Council; and Susan Alexrod, Founding Chair of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy. Full bios are available on WhiteHouse.gov.

Employment Data

On June 26 the American Association of People with Disabilities and US Business Leadership Network will release data from the Disability Equality Index (DEISM). The DEISM is a national benchmarking tool that scores businesses, on a scale of zero to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices. It is intended to help companies identify opportunities for continued improvement and help build a company's reputation as an employer of choice. Register for the release webinar on USBLN.org.

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms

For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=164

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