AUCD Legislative News InBrief

April 21, 2008

Capitol Hill Briefing on Disability Funding

On April 16 AUCD participated in a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) sponsored Capitol Hill briefing and roundtable on the Coalition's recommendations for appropriations.  Kim Musheno, Director of Legislative Affairs for AUCD, accompanied her brother-in-law, Bill Alston, a man with autism and intellectual disabilities (see picture right).  Together, they discussed how federal funding for numerous disability and entitlement programs is critical for Bill and other people with developmental disabilities to be successful in the community.  Donna Meltzer, Epilepsy Foundation; Jennifer Dexter, Easter Seals; and Kathy McGinley, National Disability Rights Network also helped present CCD's funding recommendations for FY2009.  The roundtable format offered Congressional staff the opportunity to ask questions and engage in a discussion with presenters about the importance of disability program funding.  CCD's recommendations will be posted online at www.c-c-d.org.

 

Medicaid

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 (H.R. 5613) by a unanimous vote of 46-0.  The bill contains a moratorium on seven harmful Medicaid regulations.  The White House issued a veto threat in a letter sent to Chairman Dingell (D-MI) and Ranking Member Barton (R-TX).  The House is expected to pass the bill (H.R. 5613) under suspension of the rules either late tomorrow (Tuesday 4/22) or Wednesday (4/23).  A similar bill is pending in the Senate (S 2819).  In addition to the moratorium, the bill also includes a moratorium on a CMS SCHIP directive (see below) and targeted Medicaid state fiscal relief.  The AUCD Action Center has alerts to gain addition co-sponsors for the House and Senate bills: http://www.aucd.org/template/capwiz.cfm

 

SCHIP

In a letter last week to Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Snowe (R-ME), the General Accounting Office (GAO) stated they have determined that a State Children's Health Insurance Program directive issued August 17, 2007 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should not take effect until it is submitted to both houses of Congress.  The CMS letter required states to certify that 95 percent of eligible children under 200 percent of poverty are enrolled in the program before states can offer health coverage to children above 250 percent of poverty.  It has been opposed by many states and bi-partisan members of Congress.  The GAO determination does not change the directive.  However, it applies additional pressure on the Administration to rescind. 

 

National Family Caregiver Support Program

AUCD continues to work with Senator Mikulski's (D-MD) staff on a possible technical correction to the National Family Caregiver Support program to include aging caregivers of adults with developmental and other disabilities as intended by Congress during the 2006 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.  The Administration on Aging has provided their interpretation of the issue and recommended legislative language.  Staff from AUCD and Easter Seals are meeting with key Senate and House staff to gain their support.      

 

DD Act Regulations

AUCD is hosting a webinar today on a notice of proposed regulations to implement the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. The NPRM was announced in the April 10 Federal Register (Vol. 73, No. 70).  The deadline to comment on the proposed rule is June 9, 2008.  The 35 page document can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-7412.pdf.  For more information, contact Kim Musheno at kmusheno@aucd.org.

 

Social Security

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel will hold a hearing this Wednesday entitled, "Clearing the Disability Backlog - Giving the Social Security Administration the Resources It Needs to Provide the Benefits Workers Have Earned." Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner, Social Security Administration, has been invited to testify.  Marty Ford, The Arc/UCP Policy Collaboration will testify on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force.  Her testimony, along with statements of all the presenters, is posted on the committee website at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=626.

 

AUCD Governmental Affairs Award

On April 17, AUCD President Bill Kiernan personally presented the Gold Star Award to Connie Garner, Policy Director for Disability for Senator Edward Kennedy on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.  Bill Kiernan is the Director of the Institute on Community Inclusion in Boston, Massachusetts.  AUCD's Governmental Affairs Committee had presented the Award to Connie at the Fall Annual Meeting; however, she was not available at the time to accept it in person.  The Committee nominated Connie Garner for the Award because she truly exemplifies everything that the Gold Star Award stands for. Connie has shepherded numerous high profile bills with significant impact on people with developmental and other disabilities and their families, including the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 and the newly enacted Family Opportunity Act. Connie knows our network and always reaches out to consult the Massachusetts Centers, AUCD, and other experts in our network when developing new or renewing existing laws that affect the disability population. Connie is the lead Senate staff helping to move the ADA Restoration Act and the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. She received her B.S. in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, her M.S. in Nursing from George Mason University, her Ed.S. from George Washington University, and her Ph.D. in Health and Education Policy. Connie is also certified as Pediatric and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and continues to work part-time at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. AUCD Executive Director George Jesien and Legislative Director Kim Musheno were also present at the presentation of the award.

 

Annual Pacific Rim Conference

AUCD Policy Fellow, Tammie Picklesimer, participated in the 24th Annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities in Honolulu Hawaii. Tammie provided an update to conference participants on current federal legislative activities and on how to advocate at the federal level. On April 11, at a pre-conference symposium, ADD Commissioner Pat Morrissey provided a history and overview of the DD Act. 

 

Real Choice Systems Change and Aging and Disability Resource Center Grants

CMS announced approximately thirteen million dollars in available funding to continue to support States' efforts to address complex issues in long-term care reform. In addition to approximately eight million dollars in Real Choice Systems Change Grant funding, CMS was also awarded five million dollars for Aging and Disability Resource Center/Area Agencies on Aging grantshttp://www.cms.hhs.gov/newfreedominitiative/emailupdates/ItemDetail.asp?ItemID=CMS1209903