AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 24, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  January 24, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 4
  
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Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate will meet in a joint session Tuesday night for the President's State of the Union speech.  This week, the House will consider a resolution to reduce fiscal 2011 appropriations to at least fiscal 2008 levels, and the House and Senate will hold hearings on the health care reform law.

FY 2011 Appropriations
House Republicans are moving ahead with aggressive plans to make huge cuts to domestic discretionary spending for the remainder of this fiscal (2011) year.  The new Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan (R-WI), plans to issue new budget allocations to the appropriations subcommittees this week that would cut an estimated $55 billion (back to FY '08 levels) from the current year spending that began on Oct. 1.  The Senate Democratic leadership announced that they will not go along with the House plan.  Therefore, there will likely have to be another short-term continuing resolution to keep government programs operating while the Republicans and Democrats work out an agreement.  Please see previous issues of In Brief for more background information on this evolving situation.

Meanwhile, the Republican Study Committee last week released a plan to cut $2.5 trillion from government spending in the next ten years.  The Spending Reduction Act of 2011 will specifically hold FY 2011 non-security discretionary spending to FY 08 levels, hold non-defense discretionary spending to FY 06 levels thereafter for the rest of the ten-year budget window, and include more than 100 other program eliminations or savings proposals.  A summary of the plan is available, which includes a list of some of the programs targeted for total elimination.

AUCD staff will participate in a meeting today with Senate Appropriations Committee Democratic staff to discuss their plans to finalize FY 2011 appropriations as well as their strategy for FY 2012.

Health Care Reform
The Republican-led House voted (245 to 189) Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act, fulfilling a pledge that Republican candidates made during the fall midterm campaigns.  Three Democrats (Dan Boren (OK), Mike McIntyre (NC), and Mike Ross (AR)) sided with every Republican in the largely symbolic step that has little chance of being considered by the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

The House also voted 253-175 on a resolution that instructs four House committees to work on legislation to "replace" the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with 14 Democrats supporting the measure. House Republicans also launched their first effort to defund the reform law.  The Republican Study Committee plan (see Appropriations above) would ban fiscal 2011 funding from being used to carry out any of the reform law's provisions and prohibit the administration from defending the reform law against legal challenges. 

Marty Ford, representing the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Long-Term Services and Supports Task Force, and Peter Thomas, representing the CCD Health Task Force, recently spoke to the members of the Institute of Medicine Committee charged with developing recommendations on implementation of the essential benefits package created by the Affordable Care Act.  They were asked to present on the inclusion of rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices in the Affordable Care Act.  Marty Ford described how the term is used in Medicaid and provided examples of how it should be included in the health plans.  Their testimony is available online: Marty Ford; Peter Thomas.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new analysis Tuesday showing that up to 129 million people under age 65 have some type of pre-existing health condition, such as heart disease, epilepsy, diabetes or arthritis.  Without the Affordable Care Act's protections, these individuals would be at risk of losing health insurance when they need it most, or being denied coverage altogether.  By 2014, when all of the insurance reform measures in the Affordable Care Act are in effect, people living with pre-existing conditions will be free from discrimination and the higher costs that often come if they were able to purchase insurance at all.

There are several hearings related to the Affordable Care Act this week.  House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal impact of the health care reform law on Wednesday; the House Ways and Means Committee scheduled a hearing on the economic effect of ACA; the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of ACA on consumers on Thursday.

Family Support Policy
AUCD and several family support leaders in the network have been invited to a policy summit on Family Support March 6-8, 2011.  The event, Building a National Agenda for Family Support, is an effort supported in part by the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) and the Johnson Foundation.  The purpose of this event is to bring family support leaders together to develop and advance a national policy agenda for family support, including building support for the reauthorization of Title II of the Developmental Disabilities Act.  AUCD also participated in the planning of the event, to be held at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin. 

New Report on Segregated Employment
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released a report on January 18, 2011 focused on sheltered and segregated work environments for people with disabilities.  The report, entitled "Segregated and Exploited: The Failure of the Disability Service System to Provide Quality Work," provides a short history of sheltered work policies, highlights problems related to low wages and poor implementation and oversight of Federal laws, as well as recommendations to policies to promote integrated work at higher wages and increase labor protections and enforcement.

Long-Term Services and Supports
AARP recently released a report entitled "Weathering the Storm: The Impact of the Great Recession on Long-Term Services and Supports."  The report documents how the recession continues to affect state programs for older individuals and adults with disabilities.  In fiscal year 2010, 31 states cut non-Medicaid aging and disability service programs, and 28 states were expecting to cut them in fiscal year 2011.  The report, along with related supports and a short video on the topic can be found here.

CCD Annual Meeting
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) held its annual meeting Wednesday.  The agenda included updates from Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for disability policy, key staff from the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and a Senior Advisor to the President's Fiscal Commission.  Each year, CCD organizes its many task forces and determines overall priorities.  This year's priorities will include: budget and appropriations, health care reform implementation and employment of individuals with disabilities.  AUCD staff will volunteer on task forces covering those topics, as well as Social Security, long-term services and supports, education and more. 

The Disability Policy Seminar, February 14-16, is right around the corner, but there's still time to sign up.  The final day of the Seminar, Wednesday, February 16, is set aside for you to make visits to your legislators on Capitol Hill and let them know what's important to you. There are more than 100 new Members of Congress and they need to know who you are and what you stand for! This can be the single most impactful thing you do while you're here, so we've put some information and resources for you online to help you get organized for these visits. To get the most out of your appointments, you should coordinate with other attendees in your area and visit your legislators together. You can view the names of others from your area who are attending the Seminar here. But before you do anything, you need to register for the seminar. Visit www.disabilitypolicyseminar.org for information on this year's event. We hope to see you there!

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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