Legislative News InBrief

December 11, 2006


Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy
301-588-8252
kmusheno@aucd.org

Vol VI, Issue 45

Congressional Schedule and Appropriations
Congress ended the 109th Congress Saturday without completing most of the FY 2007 appropriations bills. Only the defense and homeland security spending bills have been enacted. Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the remaining federal agencies operating through February 15, 2007. Agency and program funding levels under the CR depend upon whether the House and Senate passed an appropriations bill for the agency. In cases where neither House nor Senate passed a bill, such as Labor, HHS and Education, the CR level is the 2006 prior year level. In cases where only the House passed a bill, the CR level is lower of the House or 2006 level. In cases where both the House and Senate passed a bill, the CR level is lower of the House, Senate or 2006 level.

The new Democratically-controlled Congress will convene on January 4, 2007, and it is currently uncertain how the Democrats plan to complete the 2007 appropriations bills. Options include extending the continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year which terminates on September 30, 2007, or originating all new appropriations bills. The President will submit his proposed FY 2008 budget to Congress on February 5, 2007. Democrats may be writing 2007 and 2008 spending bills at almost the same time.

Lifespan Respite Care Act
The Lifespan Respite Care Act (HR3248), sponsored by Reps. Ferguson (R-NJ) and Langevin (D-RI), passed the House of Representatives on December 6. The Senate passed the billon Dec. 8 after some last minute negotiating with one senator threatening to filibuster the bill. Lead sponsors in the Senate are Sens. Warner (R-VA) and Clinton (D-NY). The Lifespan Respite Care Act authorizes $30 million for FY07 (increasing to $94.8 million by FY11) in competitive grants to states (including the territories) to develop or coordinate lifespan respite care programs for families providing care for an adult or child with a special need. The final compromise bill authorizes the Aging and Disability Resource Centers recently authorized in every state through the Older Americans Act as the lead agency eligible for these funds. AUCD has been working in coalition with the Lifespan Respite Coalition for over five years to develop and pass this important bill! President Bush is expected to sign the legislation. Please take a moment to thank your Members who sponsored this important bill. AUCD will prepare a summary of the final bill soon.

Combating Autism Act
The Combating Autism Act, sponsored by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), passed the House of Representatives on Dec. 6 followed by the Senate on Dec. 7. The Act provides almost $1billion over five years for autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities research, screening, treatment and education. The legislation significantly expands research activities at the NIH as well as surveillance programs run by CDC. The legislation also provides competitive grants to "expand existing or develop new maternal and child health interdisciplinary leadership education in neurodevelopmental and related disabilities programs" (LEND) in states that do not have such program. See summary on AUCD's website.

AUCD Teleconference on Appropriations, Elections, and Medicaid
AUCD's Legislative Affairs Committee is hosting a teleconference on the recent elections, appropriations, Deficit Reduction Act implementation and Medicaid reform in the 110th Congress. This is an opportunity to gain expert, insider information that will enhance the work of your UCEDD in 2007. Mark Mioduski and Amy Souders from Cornerstone Governmental Affairs will provide an outlook on appropriations and on what we can expect from the newly-elected democratic congress. Jeffrey S. Crowley, a widely recognized expert in health policy, is the Project Director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University. He will speak on implementation of the Deficit Reduction Act in the states and provide an outlook for Medicaid reform issues in 2007. An email with the toll-free number was emailed last Friday. Please contact Kim with any questions at kmusheno@aucd.org.

Disability Policy Seminar
Online registration is now open for the 2007 Disability Policy Seminar (March 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill). The seminar theme is New Congress, New Opportunities: https://www.aucd.org/meetings/gaseminar.cfm

Reservations must be made directly with the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Call 1-800-233-1234 and indicate the reservation is for the "Disability Policy Seminar" to receive the Seminar hotel rate of $239 per night. The deadline to register for the seminar and hotel is Feb. 8. A brochure, preliminary program and a hard copy of the Seminar registration form will be posted on AUCD Web site in both Word and PDF formats this week.

For questions about the Seminar registration, please contact AAMR/AAIDD at 202-387-1968. For questions about the Seminar program, please contact Kim Musheno at AUCD at 301-588-8252; kmusheno@aucd.org.

Emergency Management and Disabilities
The CCD Rights Task Force has been meeting with Hill Staff on the implementation of emergency preparedness provisions in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The compliance of FEMA with the new disability provisions is central to their successful implementation. The Task Force has identified three major issues to press in working with FEMA to ensure compliance: 1) establish a Disability Coordinator's office which consults with the disability advocacy community, 2) establish accessibility standards and 3) establish a properly functioning grant program to implement preparedness standards in state and local-level emergency management.

Restraints and Seclusion Rules
CMS published new regulations in today's Federal Register regarding the use of restraints and seclusion. The patients' rights regulations set forth, as a condition of participation (CoP) in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the expectation that health care facilities will protect the rights of patients. The requirements apply to all participating hospitals including short-term, psychiatric, rehabilitation, long-term, children's and alcohol/drug treatment facilities.

Under the new regulations, hospitals must provide the patient or family member with a formal notice of their rights at the time of admission. These rights include freedom from restraints and seclusion in any form when used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience for the staff, or retaliation. Stricter standards for when a healthcare facility must report the death of a patient associated with the use of restraints and seclusion have also been adopted with this rule. The new rules will become effective on February 06, 2007.

Health/SCHIP
Congress passed legislation to prevent early 2007 shortfalls for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP provides health insurance to more than four million children, including children with disabilities, in low-income families. Unspent SCHIP funds from fiscal years 2004 and 2005 will be redistributed to states expected to run out of SCHIP funds in the 2007. The redistributed funds should defer shortfalls in those states' SCHIP programs through early May 2007. SCHIP is due to be authorized in the new Congress.

AUCD Legislative Affairs
The Legislative Affairs Committee meets today by conference call at 4 p.m. ET. An agenda and call-in information was emailed to the Committee earlier today. Contact Kim Musheno for more information 301-588-8252; kmusheno@aucd.org.