AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 16, 2009

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FY 2009 Appropriations

The Senate passed and President Obama signed the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill that provides funds for most AUCD network programs.  The Labor, HHS, Education funding bill was wrapped up in a larger "omnibus" bill that included all nine funding bills that were not completed from the previous year.  University Centers of Excellence received an additional $1 million; LEND training programs received a $2 million increase; and the IDDR Centers will hopefully receive more funding as a result of an additional $1 billion going to the National Institutes of Health (the NIH).  The CDC received a $10.6 million increase to $138 million. For more information regarding funding levels in the final funding bill, please see AUCD's Feb. 26 special appropriations report and funding table.

Lifespan Respite Care Act

The Lifespan Respite Care Act will finally receive some funding to begin to implement the program that was authorized in December of 2006 (P.L. 109-442) to provide grants to states to start or enhance respite programs for individuals with disabilities across the lifespan.  The FY 2009 funding bill that was just signed into law includes $2.5 million in the Office of the Secretary's General Funds.  It's a very small amount compared to the $53 million authorized for FY 2009 but we hope it will enough to get the program started.  A decision will have to be made quickly by incoming Secretary-designate of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, regarding which federal agency will administer the funds. Funds could be made available to states through a competitive grant process as early as late spring for funds to be obligated before September 30th.  

FY 2010 Budget

The House Budget Committee continues hearings this week on various parts of the federal budget.   The hearings serve to guide the creation of the overall budget resolution.  The President submitted his budget proposal on Feb. 26.  A more detailed White House budget is expected by mid-April.  Meanwhile, House and Senate leaders say they want to adopt their budget resolution by early April. AUCD signed onto the Coalition for Health Funding letter for FY 2010 that calls for a $7.4 billion increase over the FY 2009 funding level for health programs. AUCD also sent a letter to the White House urging the President to contain the highest possible funding for the programs authorized under the DD Act, including the UCEDDs, DD Councils, and P&As.

FY 2010 Appropriations

This Wednesday, AUCD President Michael Gamel-McCormick will testify before the Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. His testimony will summarizes the activities of and provide funding recommendations for the 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and the 38 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Bill Restricting Protection and Advocacy

On March 3, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) reintroduced a bill (H.R. 1255) that would limit the ability of protection and advocacy systems to protect individuals with developmental disabilities in institutions. The bill was introduced with 11 co-sponsors and referred to the Judiciary Committee. The Voice of the Retarded (VOR), a parent group strongly supporting this legislation, is making a strong push to get cosponsors for the legislation. AUCD emailed an action alert last week urging network members and supporters to educate members of Congress about this issue.

National Service

The HELP Committee, chaired by Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), held a hearing on March 10th on the next generation of national service.  The hearing was led by Sen. Mikulski (D-MD) and attended by Senators Enzi (R-WY), Hatch (R-UT), McCain (R-AZ), Dodd (D-CT), Hagan (D-NC), Isakson (R-GA) and Murray (D-WA) who made statements in favor of the Kennedy-Hatch Serve America Act.  The Senate hopes to have the Kennedy-Hatch Serve America Act (S. 277) marked up next week and to be on the floor before the Easter recess beginning on April 4. The House also hopes to consider national service legislation, the GIVE Act (HR 1388) this week that would expand and recruit volunteers for programs such as AmeriCorps and education grants for volunteers. 

Community Choice Act

The Community Choice Act will be reintroduced in the Senate and House on March 24.  The Community Choice Act would help correct the institutional bias by providing individuals with disabilities an equal choice of receiving community-based personal attendant services and supports.  In conjunction with the reintroduction, Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Davis (D-IL), the original sponsors, will host a listening event across the country.  Network members are encouraged to gather a group of trainees, students, individuals with disabilities, families, and staff at UCEDD or LEND programs and call in to listen to the reintroduction.  For call-in information and to reserve a spot contact Jeanine at (785) 233-4572 or jeklund@tilrc.org .  AUCD also has posted an Action Alert to contact Members of Congress and urge them to be become original co-sponsors of the Community Choice Act for the introduction: http://capwiz.com/aucd/issues/alert/?alertid=9568111

Health Care Reform

The HELP Committee convened a stakeholder meeting last week to provide an update on health care reform.  AUCD staff participated in this meeting.  Three subgroups were formed to work on pieces of health care reform: 1) prevention and wellness -chaired by Senator Harkin (D-IA); 2) coverage -chaired by Senator Bingaman (D-NM); and 3) workforce and quality -chaired by Senator Mikulski (D-MD).  Staff provided a brief update from each subgroup, which primarily focused on the hearings each has held.  In addition to the subgroups is a "workhorse" group of stakeholders consisting of representatives from business, insurance, providers, and consumers.  Members of the "workhorse" group provided their perspectives of the process.  Mary Andrus, representing CCD on the "workhorse" group, expressed the need to include long-term services and supports.  Some of the larger issues being debated include the role of an exchange with a public and private options, guaranteed issue, individual mandates, and low-income subsidies.  Similar to the process taken during mental health parity, HELP Committee staff indicated that the role of the "workhorse" group is to explore the "range of possibilities," not necessarily the specifics.  While staff indicated that nothing has been drafted yet, a sense of urgency was conveyed.  No clear timeline was presented.  However, the Finance Committee has indicated that they hope to consider a bill by June.

Last week we reported the White House plans for five regional health care forums over the next month. The first one was held in Michigan.  The next forums will be held in the following locations:

  • March 17 - Burlington, Vermont
  • March 23 - Des Moines, Iowa
  • March 31 - Greensboro, North Carolina
  • April 6 - Los Angeles, California

Individuals interested in participating in these summits should contact the respective Governors' offices.

Public Health

AUCD co-sponsored a congressional staff briefing coordinated by the Coalition of Health Funding on the state and future of public health in the national debate on health care reform. Speakers included state directors of public health departments and the executive director of the American Public Health Association; presentations are available online at http://www.aamc.org/advocacy/healthfunding/obesityamerica.htm.  Also included was an issue report that included a state by state look at how federal public health dollars are spent as well as key state health facts.  This resource is available online at http://healthyamericans.org/assets/files/shortchanging09.pdf. 

Stem Cell Research

On March 9th President Obama signed an executive order that is expected to lead to an increase in state and federal research using stem cells aimed at the prevention and treatment of diseases and increased research within the field of developmental disabilities.  The executive order reversed President Bush's policy directive that banned federal funding for research into stem lines. More information can be found online through the NIH Stem Cell Information website at http://stemcells.nih.gov/index.asp. 

2009 Stimulus Funding Watch: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=632
AUCD is continuing to develop and add information to the Stimulus Funding Watch webpage. Federal agencies such as the Dept. of Education released detailed information about funding related to ARRA including what's required in state application to receive state fiscal stabilization funds for education purposes as well as the Dept. of Health and Human Services adding information to their recovery website.  NIH also released a number of announcements for funding opportunities related to ARRA, including opportunities for research directly related to AUCD's mission. Several federal agency pages allow visitors to sign up to receive RSS feeds or email updates. AUCD also encourages you to share strategies and success stories about the use of the stimulus funds at federal and state levels on behalf of people with disabilities. Send stories to Dawn Rudolph (drudolph@aucd.org).

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=27