AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 23, 2009

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FY 2010 Budget

The House Budget Committee is preparing to markup the FY 2010 budget resolution this week.  House and Senate Committee chairmen stated their intention to preserve key elements of the President's budget; however, they also said they may have to make adjustments as a result of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) new deficit projections issued last week.  CBO projected deficits would be $400 billion higher that the Office on Management and Budget projections within the President's budget.

AUCD Appropriations Testimony

AUCD's President Michael Gamel-McCormick, PhD testified today before the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, chaired by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and ranking member Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), regarding the Association's funding recommendations for the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Programs.  This hearing was the opening session in a series of hearings on Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction.  Dr. Gamel-McCormick's testimony highlighted exciting developments across the national network of UCEDDs and LENDs.  He also discussed challenges our country faces in the future and how the AUCD network of Centers and Programs can help address them, provided we have adequate resources to do so.  During his testimony, Dr. Gamel-McCormick called for additional funding to target health disparities among minorities, the rising numbers of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, returning veterans and those who are aging. Pictures and a link to the full testimony are on AUCD's website

National Service

The House of Representatives passed the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act (H.R. 1388) on March 18 by a bipartisan vote of 321 to 105. AUCD sent a letter to House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) in support of the bill. There are several provisions to improve opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in service programs, including:

  • A reservation of funds (of up to $10,000,000) to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in national service.
  • Allowing Service learning projects to be aimed at improving access to technologies to individuals with disabilities.
  • Data collection for programs receiving funding will designate - among others things, the disability status of adult participants.
  • Public awareness efforts of service opportunities for citizens of all ages will be targeted to specific under-served groups and include outreach to organizations serving individuals with disabilities
  • Training and technical assistance provided to National Service Progams will include training to create effective accommodations to increase participation of people with disabilities.

A Senate bill to expand national service, the Kennedy-Hatch Serve America Act (S. 277), was also approved by the HELP Committee on the same day, March 18. Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Hatch (R-UT) have also introduced a separate bill (S. 278) that proposes a tax credit for employers who allow workers to take paid leave for volunteer service as well as clarifying that education awards to service participants should not be treated as taxable income. For a link to a short comparison on the bills and bill text, see the AUCD website http://www.aucd.org/template/news.cfm?news_id=3734&id=27&parent=27.

The Senate plans to consider both bills this week.

Community Choice Act

The Community Choice Act (CCA) will be reintroduced in the Senate and House tomorrow.  Senator Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Davis (D-IL) are hosting a reintroduction event at 2:30PM.  Grassroots are encouraged to call in and listen to the event.  For call-in information please contact Jeanine at 785-233-4572 or jeklund@tilrc.org.  AUCD is contacting all Senate co-sponsors who have previously supported the CCA and urging them to become an original co-sponsor.  As of late last week, assistance was needed with the following offices: Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Dodd (D-CT), Inouye (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Lieberman (I-CT), Murray (D-WA), Roberts (R-KS), Sanders (I-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Tester (D-MT).

CLASS Act

The CLASS Act will likely be reintroduced in the House and Senate on Wednesday.  The version of the CLASS Act being reintroduced is identical to last year (see AUCD policy page for more information).  AUCD provided a letter of support to Senator Kennedy (D-MA).  A grassroots website has been created by a larger coalition of disability and aging groups supporting the CLASS Act http://www.passtheclassact.org/ .  The website will house documents and materials.  It will also be used to collected personal stories.

Long-Term Services and Supports in Health Care Reform

The Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday concerning the inclusion of long-term services and supports in health care reform.  Witnesses will include: Judy Feder (Center for American Progress), Raymond C. Scheppach (National Governors Association), Dennis G. Smith (The Heritage Foundation), and Joshua M. Wiener (RTI International).

Social Security

AUCD signed onto testimony prepared by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities for a House hearing on eliminating the Social Security disability backlog.  The hearing will be held on Tuesday before both the Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittees on Social Security and the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support.

Early Childhood

AUCD staff attended a series of House Education and Labor Committee hearings devoted to strengthening early childhood education. The hearings examined the early learning and child care needs of children and families, as well as collaborative state efforts and other initiatives to deliver high quality care and education to children from birth through age five.  This effort comes a week after President Obama delivered his first major speech on education, in which he identified early childhood initiatives, like Head Start, as a critical part of his education agenda.

Inclusive Home Design Act

The Inclusive Home Design Act (IHDA) was introduced on March 10th by Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL). The IHDA aims to increase the number of homes accessible to people with disabilities by applying visitability standards.  The principle of visitability seeks to create homes that are affordable and sustainable, and use a design approach that integrates accessibility features into newly-built homes. This bill would also require that all newly-built single-family homes and townhouses receiving federal funds meet accessibility standards for individuals with disabilities.

Comparative Effectiveness Research

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the members of the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the new council will help coordinate research and guide investments (out of the allocated $1.1 billion) in comparative effectiveness research funded by the Recovery Act. To ensure that all voices are heard, the council will hold a public listening session on April 14, 2009. Its deliberations and recommendations will be public and transparent, consistent with all Recovery Act investments as well as the President's commitment to open government. 

The IOM is gathering input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders to help determine priorities for Comparative Effectiveness Research that reflect the needs of patients, consumers, and the American health care community.  From now through Friday, March 27th the IOM encourages all stakeholders to complete its online survey by March 27. This is the IOM's portal for collecting all stakeholder input that will be considered for inclusion in its final report to Congress.  The survey is available on this link: 

 http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=LlHO39G0RjI6WHfsxFbJHQ%3d%3d

Health Information Technology

On Friday, the administration named the official who will serve as national coordinator for health information technology. Dr. David Blumenthal, a former Harvard Medical School professor who advised Obama during the presidential campaign and once worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy. The stimulus bill specifies that $17 billion is to be spent in incentives through Medicare and Medicaid to nudge doctors and hospitals toward electronic record-keeping beginning in 2011. In 2015, financial penalties will start for doctors and hospitals if they haven't done so.

Disability Policy Seminar - April 27-29, 2009

This year's Disability Policy Seminar will be held leading up to the LEND Directors Retreat which makes a great opportunity to take advantage of both events while in Washington, D.C.  A list of registered participants is posted online so that participants can coordinate Hill visits. The seminar hotel block is now full; however a list of alternate hotels are listed on the Events page. The Legislative Affairs Committee meets on Monday, April 27 from 12:30 to 1:30.  AUCD is also sponsoring a special reception on Monday night for Trainees attending the seminar.

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