Disability Policy News In Brief

January 20, 2015

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January 19, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 3
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week, returning from the Democratic and Republican retreats and the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

State of the Union

President Obama will deliver his sixth State of the Union address tonight at 9pm ET. It will air on all of the major broadcast networks. The President has already announced several of his initiatives, including proposals for a new tax plan, community college affordability, paid sick leave, and access to high speed broadband. Don't have a TV? Watch the address live on YouTube. Learn more about the speech and watch an enhanced version with graphics and information at WhiteHouse.gov/sotu. Join the disability community conversation using  #SOTU4PWD and follow AUCD's social media channels for real-time updates.

On January 21, participate in Big Block of Cheese Day and ask senior White House officials your disability policy questions using #AskTheWH on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

Last week, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities held its annual meeting and voted on leadership. AUCD Public Policy Director Kim Musheno was re-elected Vice Chair of the Consortium and co-chair of the Fiscal Policy Task Force; AUCD Policy Manager Rachel Patterson was re-elected co-chair of the Long-Term Services and Supports Task Force and newly elected co-chair of the Health Task Force. Task Force reports are available on the CCD website.

Education

Senator Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a draft bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (see the chairman's press statement).  The bill, "Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015," is a discussion draft and open for feedback.  AUCD sent a letter to Chairman Alexander applauding the him for addressing the urgent need to reauthorize the Act and urging him to ensure that any reauthorization include high expectations for all students, including those with disabilities, assessments procedures to document student progress and availability of that data to parents and communities to determine the effectiveness of schools, and accountability systems that ensure students with disabilities have access to the general curriculum and instruction that is challenging and meets their needs. Senator Murray (D-WA), the Ranking minority member, outlined her principles for amending the law and for urging the committee to work in a bipartisan manner to reauthorize the law.  AUCD emailed the draft bill to UCEDD leaders and asked for volunteers to join an education policy workgroup.  For more information, contact Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

Chairman Alexander has scheduled a hearing related to the reauthorization of ESEA around the issues of testing and accountability.  The hearing takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, January 21.  For more information, including a list of witnesses, see the committee website.

Employment

The first meeting of the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities is scheduled for this Thursday and Friday, January 22 and 23 (see announcement in Federal Register, Vol 79, No. 247).  This Committee was established by Sec. 461 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to study and prepare recommendations on ways to increase employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities; 2) the use of the certificate program under Section 14 (c ) of the FLSA; and 3) ways to improve oversight of the use of such certificates.  AUCD will be closely monitoring the work of this committee.

Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) has introduced a bill to phase out special wage certificates under Section 14(c) under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment Act of 2015 (TIME Act, H.R. 188) would end the issuing of such certificates upon enactment; transition entities holding such certificates within three years; and repeal the relevant section of the Fair Labor Standard Act three years after enactment. The bill was referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee with one co-sponsor, Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL). An identical bill, the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R. 831), was introduced by Congressman Harper in 2013 but died at the end of the 113th Congress with 97 co-sponsors.

Long-Term Services and Supports

Home and Community-Based Services Settings Regulation

AUCD joined disability advocacy groups, service providers, and state agencies in issuing a joint statement about the timeline and implementation of the HCBS settings regulation. Specifically, the statement seeks to make clear that states have until March of 2019 to comply with the rule; no one should face immediate termination of services. The statement builds on guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the rule and non-residential settings. For more, visit HCBSadvocacy.org.

Department of Labor Home Care Rule

On January 14, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon issued an opinion and order ending the revised definition of companionship services included in the Department of Labor's rule regarding the extension of minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. In December, Judge Leon issued a previous order in Home Care Association of America v. Weil, vacating the part of the regulation regarding third party employers (see January 5 In Brief). For more information, see the Department of Labor site on the litigation. This ruling ends the substantive sections of the rule that extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. The Department is expected to appeal the decision.

ABLE Act

President Obama signed the ABLE Act into law on December 19, 2014. However, families cannot start setting up ABLE Accounts yet. ABLE Accounts are modeled on "529" plans, which are regulated at the state level. States must now pass legislation to implement ABLE Accounts in their 529 programs. Learn more about next steps from the National Disability Institute and this AAPD/Allsup infographic.

Medicare

The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), has scheduled a two-day hearing for January 21 and 22 on Medicare physician payments. Subcommittee members will discuss how to bring Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) reform to the president's desk before the current patch expires at the end of March 2015. Subcommittee members will look to build upon the bipartisan, bicameral agreement on policy reached in the 113th Congress and discuss options to permanently resolve the much maligned physician payment system. SGR legislative packages has usually addresses therapy payments in Medicare and funding for Family to Family Health Information Centers. AUCD will continue to monitor any legislation.

Older Americans Act

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) plan to introduce the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 this week. The proposed bill includes improvements to the National Family Caregiver Support program that AUCD supports, along with changes to Ombudsman programs, abuse prevention, and Aging & Disability Resource Centers. 

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

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