AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 10, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  January 10, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 2
  
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Congressional Schedule
Members of the 112th Congress were sworn in on Wednesday.  The House had planned to vote on a measure to repeal the new health reform law this week (see Health Care Reform below); however, following the shootings in Tucson that included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced that all votes, including the health care repeal vote, would be postponed.  The only scheduled legislative activity will be consideration of a House resolution honoring Giffords and all of the victims.  The Senate is in recess until January 24.

FY 2011 Appropriations
The House passed a rules package Wednesday that will, among other things, give the incoming Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the authority to set spending levels for fiscal years 2011 - 2015 in the Congressional Record without a vote.  Ryan has said that he plans to file a discretionary spending limit that would take non-security spending back to its pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels, meaning FY 2008 levels.  The rules package also replaces the so-called "pay-as-you-go" rule from the last Congress with a "cut-as-you-go" rule, requiring any new mandatory spending to be offset by equal or greater spending cuts in existing programs.  The rule does not apply to tax cuts, however.

House Republican leaders named Harold Rogers (R-KY) chairman of the Appropriations committee and Denny Rehberg (R-MT) as chairman of the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over all AUCD network funding.  Rogers issued a statement asserting that "Each and every one of our Republican committee members are committed to the historic challenge of dramatically reducing government spending and getting our economy on a sustainable and responsible path."

Health Care Reform
The new Republican House leaders introduced legislation last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety.  The two-page bill, entitled the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Reform Law Act," states as the purpose to "repeal of the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010".  A vote on the bill was scheduled for Wednesday, January 12, but was postponed due to the shooting rampage in Arizona over the weekend.  The vote will be largely symbolic, however, because although the bill is expected to pass the House, there are not enough votes to pass the Senate or override a presidential veto.  Republicans did not send the bill to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for budget analysis ("scoring") or allow amendments, two moves that are in stark contrast to the majority party's stated goals of transparency, open amendments and debate.  Republicans have also not addressed the budget implications of repealing ACA - the law was projected to reduce $143 billion from the deficit over time, and a preliminary analysis by CBO suggests that repeal could add as much as $230 billion to the deficit.  The new House rules include an exemption allowing any repeal of the health reform law to pass without spending offsets.  AUCD issued an action alert on the bill, which can be found on AUCD's Action Center.

Meanwhile, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury sent a letter to new House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) outlining the costs of repealing the Affordable Care Act.  The letter highlights some of the ways Americans are already benefitting from the law and provides an update on continuing implementation efforts in 2011. 

CLASS Act
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday that the implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, one of the key long-term services and supports provisions in the Affordable Care Act, will be housed in a new Office of CLASS within the Administration on Aging (AoA) and overseen by Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee.  AUCD issued a press release applauding the Administration for moving forward with implementation of this important new program.

Autism
U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-4), released a congressionally-mandated report on January 7 describing the activities and progress made by the federal government since the enactment of the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006 (Public Law 106-416).  The report, prepared by the Office of Autism Research Coordination at the National Institutes of Health, shows that the Combating Autism Act has been instrumental in expanding research, surveillance, and expanding the number of professionals able to diagnose and treat individuals on the autism spectrum.  The report also specifically concludes that the LEND training program has dramatically improved health professionals' ability to conduct screenings and assessments. In 2009, the 22 LEND programs that received CAA funding collectively screened 12,751 infants or children and provided diagnostic evaluation services to 12,390.  In FY 2010, the 39 LENDs collectively screened more than 46,000 infants and children and provided diagnostic evaluation services for more than 35,000 infants and children.

Medicaid & Medicare
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday the formal establishment of the CMS Federal Coordinated Health Care Office.  Created by Section 2602 of the Affordable Care Act, the new office will bring together officers and employees at CMS in order to more effectively integrate benefits for beneficiaries enrolled in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Federal Coordinated Health Care Office will be led by Melanie Bella, and will focus its efforts on those who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare by:

  • Fostering overall improvements in the quality of health care and long-term services for individuals who are dually eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare

  • Simplifying processes for dual eligible individuals to access items and services available to them

  • Increasing dual eligible individuals' understanding of and satisfaction with coverage under the Medicare and Medicaid programs

  • Eliminating regulatory conflicts between rules under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and

  • Improving coordination between the Federal Government and States 

Community Living
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday a joint partnership between the two agencies to help nearly 1,000 non-elderly Americans with disabilities living in nursing homes or other healthcare facilities to live independently in the community.  The partnership is part of President Obama's Year of Community Living initiative.  For the first time, two federal agencies will offer a combination of rental assistance, health care and other supportive services targeted to this population to allow them rent private apartments.  Health and social supports will be funded by the Money Follows the Person grant program, which allows individuals who qualify for Medicaid-funded nursing home or other institutional care to receive supports in the community instead. For more information, see the press release.

New Policy Fellow
AUCD welcomes this year's Disability Policy Leadership Fellow, Amie Lulinski-Norris, today!  Amie comes from the Institute on Disability and Human Development (IL UCEDD) where she served as Project Coordinator for the UCEDD and Academic Coordinator for the LEND.  Amie received her MS in Disability and Human Development in 2008 from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is currently a PhD Candidate in Disability Studies.  Amie's research interests include deinstitutionalization and community-based supports and services, as well as long-term care and Medicaid policy. Prior to beginning her academic career, Amie served in various capacities for many years supporting people with disabilities including a Teaching Aid in an integrated daycare, Psychiatric Aid, Direct Support Professional, Service Coordinator and Director of Quality Assurance and Training at community-based agencies in both Missouri and Illinois. 

Disability Policy Seminar: Early Registration Ends January 11!
The Seminar is coming early this year - don't miss your chance to join hundreds of disability advocates and activists for an informative three-day seminar culminating in visits to your Senators and Representatives in Washington! The Seminar takes place February 14-16 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.  Register today at
www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org! Make hotel reservations by Jan. 11 online or call 1-888-421-1442.  Registering early will save you $80 and get you a discounted hotel room at the most convenient location.  This year you can attend a special event honoring disability policy legend Paul Marchand and help establish the Paul Marchand Fellowship Fund for the future of disability policy.  For more information, see the seminar event page or email kmusheno@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=164


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