AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 4, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
 
  June 4, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 22
  
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Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate are in session this week.  The Senate will consider a bill on gender-based pay disparities while the House continues work on fiscal 2013 energy-water spending.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a field hearing on bullying in schools in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday. 

Prevention Fund and Student Loans
House and Senate Republican leaders are backing off their insistence on using the Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for an extension of the 3.4% interest rate on certain federally backed student loans for one year.  In a recent letter, Republican leaders offered two potential alternatives: increasing the amount of money that federal employees pay into the retirement system and a combination of limits on the length of in-school loan subsidies, revisions to the Medicaid Provider Tax Threshold, and prevention of Social Security overpayments.  Elimination or cuts to the Prevention Fund have repeatedly been proposed as offsets for other policy priorities.  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) worked hard to protect the Fund; he developed a "Dear Colleague" letter signed by over 35 bipartisan members of Congress urging Senate leaders to reject the House proposal to use the Fund as an offset for the student loan extension.  

In related news, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for a new Community Transformation Grant Small Communities Program supported by the Prevention and Public Health Fund.  The program will make $70 million available over two years for communities with populations up to 500,000.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will support 25 to 50 competitive grant awards.  The overarching purpose of this program is to prevent heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other leading chronic diseases, causes of death or disability through implementation of a variety of evidence-based programs, policies, and infrastructure improvements that promote health and healthy behaviors among an intervention population. Letters of intent are due by June 18, and full applications by July 31.  To learn more about the Community Transformation Grants Program, see the HHS fact sheet.

Medicaid
As mentioned above, Republican leaders have proposed reducing the Medicaid Provider Tax Threshold to pay for an extension of low student loan interest rates.  However, some Democrats have said they will not support the proposal because it could shift costs onto states and eventually harm beneficiaries.  Nearly all states use the revenue from provider taxes to help pay their share of Medicaid programs, which, in turn, increases the federal Medicaid match.  Cutting the provider tax would mean that states receive less revenue and the federal government will contribute less, putting more pressure on state budgets to cover beneficiaries and possibly resulting in reduced enrollment and eligibility. 

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
On May 17, the White House transmitted a
treaty package requesting the advice and consent of the Senate for ratification of the CRPD (see May 29 In Brief).  On May 25, a group of seven bipartisan senators announced their support for ratification (Sens. McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), Moran (R-KS) and Udall (D-NM)).  The next step will be for Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) to hold a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Once the Treaty is approved by the Committee, 67 votes will be needed for it to pass the Senate.  AUCD has been working with the CCD International Task Force and the U.S. International Committee on Disabilities (USICD) to develop a strategy for moving the Treaty forward.  AUCD will be sending an action alert to its members soon.

Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts
AUCD offers facts about the law and its implementation in this new section of In Brief.

AUCD Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership
AUCD is now accepting applications for the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow.  The deadline for applications is
July 30, 2012.  The fellowship is an opportunity for a network member to live and work in Washington, DC for one year, learn about AUCD, current federal legislation affecting people with disabilities and their families and exercise leadership skills.  Click here to find out more about the fellowship and to read more about the experiences of the current Fellow, Kristina Majewski through her blog: "Transitioning into a Brave (New) World."  For more information and to apply, click here.

Save the Date: National Forum on Disability Issues
AUCD is part of the forum planning committee for the 2012 National Forum on Disability Issues on Friday, September 28th at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.  This event is a non-partisan forum where presidential candidates are scheduled to offer their visions of policy that affect people with disabilities.  Among the 2012 invitees are President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  The forum will be webcast live providing the opportunity for everyone to learn about the candidates' views on disability issues. If you cannot make it to Columbus, Ohio, please organize a watch party.  For general information on the forum contact
Kristina Majewski at AUCD.  To co-sponsor or make a contribution to the forum, contact Sue Hetrick with Ability Center (shetrick@abilitycenter.org).  Invitations to the presidential nominees were mailed last week.  To support the forum, like it on Facebook!

 

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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