AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 27, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  June 27, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 26
  
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Congressional Schedule
The House is on recess this week.  The Senate Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled "Promoting Broader Access to Public Transportation for America's Older Adults and People with Disabilities" on Wednesday.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee plans to mark up legislation to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and the Workforce Investment Act on Wednesday (more information below). 

FY 2012 Budget & Appropriations
Republican lawmakers involved in bipartisan deficit reduction negotiations led by Vice President Joe Biden dropped out of the talks last week, saying that the negotiations needed to continue at a higher level.  This week, President Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to continue working on a final deal that will include raising the federal debt limit by early August. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released Thursday the latest version of its annual Long-Term Budget Outlook, which presents the agency's projections of federal spending and revenues over the coming decades.  

Combating Autism Act
The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (S. 1094) is scheduled to be marked up by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Wednesday.  The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not yet scheduled a markup.  AUCD members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress to educate them about the importance of reauthorizing this law.  If your members have already cosponsored the bill, please do not forget to thank them!  See links to the
bill text and an action alert on AUCD's website.

Employment
Staff from the offices of Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have been working over the past two years in a bipartisan effort to renew and improve the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  A draft bill is scheduled to be marked up by the Senate HELP Committee on Wednesday.  A key goal of this reauthorization proposal is to improve, align, and coordinate employment, education, training, and vocational rehabilitation services.  Title V includes amendments to the Rehabilitation Act and vocational rehabilitation programs.  This title includes new provisions related to transitioning youth with disabilities and promoting employment first policies.  AUCD's Legislative Affairs Committee is currently reviewing the drafts.  Unfortunately, there are no companion bills in the House to date.  Please contact
Kim Musheno for more information.

Education
The House Education and Workforce Committee approved Wednesday H.R. 2218, a bill introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to amend the Charter School Program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  It would authorize $330 million for fiscal year 2012 and each of the next five years for states to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools.  Charter schools typically have not served children with more significant disabilities.  This is the second in a series of bills House Republicans plan to introduce to update ESEA.

Health Care
Last week, AUCD co-sponsored a Congressional briefing titled "The Importance of Rehabilitation in America's Healthcare System," sponsored by the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health Task Force, and the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation, in collaboration with the Bipartisan House Disabilities Caucus.  Featured speakers were Paul Tobin, President and CEO, United Spinal Association, Jeanne Wilcox, PhD, Professor of Speech and Hearing Science, Arizona State University, and Gerard Francisco, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, TIRR Memorial Hermann and attending rehabilitation physician for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. 

The briefing shed light on the importance of habilitation and rehabilitation as an essential benefit under the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  Mr. Tobin focused on the importance of rehabilitation to injured vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly as it related to transition back into community living after completion of in-patient acute care.  Professor Wilcox focused on the positive impact of well-timed early habilitation on individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD).  She stated that habilitation is not a luxury but an essential service to 43 million citizens with I/DD.  Finally, Dr. Francisco shared case studies of successful patient habilitation and their subsequent transition back into the community after traumatic brain injuries.  Dr. Francisco stated that timely services tailored to an individual's specific needs have successful recovery outcomes as opposed to time-limited therapy.  Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) offered a closing statement on the importance of habilitative therapy on his health outcomes since his spinal cord injury at the age of 16.  For more information and a link to a video clip of the briefing, click here.

Americans with Disabilities Act
The Department of Justice issued Thursday a new technical assistance document describing public entities' obligations and individuals' rights under the integration mandate of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1999 Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C.  Additionally, in commemoration of the 12th anniversary of the Olmstead decision, the department launched a new section of its ADA website, www.ada.gov/olmstead providing information and resources about the decision and its enforcement.  The new page contains a map allowing visitors to see the department's Olmstead enforcement efforts in each state.  Visitors can also sign up for email updates from the department.  For more information, see the DOJ press release.

Board report
AUCD's President-Elect, Tony Antosh, and Director of Legislative Affairs, Kim Musheno, presented the Legislative Affairs Report to the Board of Directors last week.  The report provides an in-depth update on legislative activities that impact individuals with disabilities for the first six months of the 112th Congress. 

 

For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

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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