AUCD Legislative News InBrief

September 10, 2007

SCHIP Reauthorization

House and Senate Democrats plan to work this week to find areas of possible agreement in their attempt to produce legislation reauthorizing the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) by the Sept. 30 expiration date of the program. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the chairmen of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction over SCHIP met late last week to discuss how to conference the differing bills without fracturing the coalitions that allowed them to clear the House and Senate last month. The House bill provides and additional $50 billion for SCHIP over five years and contains numerous Medicare provisions that would help people with disabilities. The Senate bill allocates an additional $35 billion but does not include the Medicare provisions. President Bush has vowed to veto both bills, citing his opposition to their high cost, among other issues.   The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health and Long Term Services Task Forces joined together in a letter to Committee leaders of jurisdiction in support of the stronger House SCHIP bill.  A copy of the letter is on the CCD website at the following link: http://www.c-c-d.org/task_forces/long_term_serv/letter-on-CHAMP-co-chairs.pdf

AUCD also helped to coordinate a national grassroots conference call last week to brief network members about the SCHIP bills.  For those that participated, please email us your feedback to jcaldwell@aucd.org.   

 

Employment

AUCD is working with the CCD Employment and Training Task Force in reviewing a new Senate draft bill to reauthorize the Rehabilitation Act as part of the Workforce Investment Act.  The bill is very similar to S. 1021 that was introduced in the 109th Congress.  The bill strengthens requirements for transitions services for students, puts more emphasis on self-directions, and post-secondary education, among other improvements.  Network members interested in helping to review this draft legislation should contact Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

 

Autism

AUCD staff met with Reps. Doyle (D-PA) and Smith (R-NJ), lead sponsors of H.R. 1881, the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act, last week.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss strategy for moving the bill forward.  Sponsors are urging Energy and Commerce Committee leaders for a hearing and trying to get more co-sponsors.  To date, there are 67 bipartisan co-sponsors (17 Republicans and 50 Democrats).  This is a good number, but we need more to bring the bill to get the attention of the busy E&C committee for a markup.  The Senate bill (S. 937) also needs more co-sponsors.  S. 937 has 11 co-sponsors so far (3 Republican; 7 Democrats; and one Independent).  This legislation would do so much to help expand services and supports for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.  AUCD will be meeting with members of the E&C Health Subcommittee over the next two weeks seeking additional co-sponsors.  For more information about the legislation and how to help, see AUCD's action alert at http://www.aucd.org/template/capwiz.cfm or contact Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

 

NCLB

Katy Beh Neas, Director of Congressional Affairs for Easter Seals testifies before the House Education panel today on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force regarding the draft bill to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.  The CCD testimony complements the Committee for positive directions, however raises several concerns.  One major concern is a provision to codify the 2% regulation and a waiver that would allow expansion to 3%.  This could lead to the exclusion of up to 40 percent of students with disabilities, some 2.4 million students, from the grade-level academic standards.  The CCD testimony can be found at the following link:  http://www.aucd.org/docs/policy/education/NCLB_ccd_testimony_9.10.07.doc.