AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 12, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   May 12, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 19
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Congressional Schedule

The House is not in session this week. The Senate is in session and expected to work on an energy efficiency bill.

Combating Autism Act

On Friday, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced a bill to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act (H.R. 4631) for five years. The bill has 35 bipartisan co-sponsors. The bill adds a requirement for the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to complete a study on the demographics and needs of individuals with ASD making the transition from school-based support system to adulthood.  The GAO includes a list of stakeholders to be surveyed for the report that includes University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The bill also makes changes to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), including permitting the HHS Secretary to oversee the implementation of the strategic plan and ensure that research and activities of HHS are not unnecessarily duplicative. AUCD is pleased that the bill has strong bipartisan support; however, the bill does not include authorization for additional services or change the title of the law, as recommended by AUCD. A Senate bill is expected to be introduced soon.



House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) released his draft 302(b) allocations for the upcoming fiscal year, FY15. As chair of the Appropriations Committee, Chairman Rogers is responsible for leading committee action dividing the total discretionary spending amount - $1.014 trillion as set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 - to each of the 12 subcommittees responsible for writing the 12 appropriations bills. For Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Chairman Rogers has proposed $155.693 billion. This is slightly lower than the $156.773 billion enacted for FY14, but much higher than the $121.797 the chairman originally proposed for FY14. AUCD staff has been meeting with key appropriators over the last several weeks discussing association funding priorities. 


On Friday the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY15 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill. This bill includes appropriations for the Departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation. For the National Science Foundation the bill provides $7.4 billion, which is $237.3 million over FY14, including a $21.2 million increase for research related to the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIIN) Initiative and an international conference on neuroscience.

Long-Term Services and Supports

The National DD Network Partners - AUCD, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and the National Disability Rights Network - have launched today a new website to help advocates get involved in their states and improve the implementation of the new Medicaid rule regarding the settings of home and community-based services. The site,, provides links to official CMS resources, national advocacy resources, and information for each state on their HCBS transition/compliance process. The website relies on national and local organizations working to help inform each other. If you have information or resources to share from your state, please send them to [email protected].


Department of Health and Human Services

The Senate held the first of two confirmation hearings for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama's nominee to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. While Burwell generally has bipartisan support to be confirmed, some conservative members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee took the opportunity to question her plans for ACA implementation and to criticize the law. The next confirmation hearing will be before the Finance Committee on Wednesday, which has jurisdiction to vote on her nomination before it goes to the full Senate. For more information, see Kaiser Health News and the April 14 issue of In Brief.

Affordable Care Act

Last week the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing titled "PPACA Enrollment and the Insurance Industry." Witnesses included executives from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Aetna, Cigna, the Health Care Service Corporation, WellPoint, and America's Health Insurance Plans, the health insurers' trade association. According to the New York Times, most of the executives testified that the health law has not hurt their businesses. They estimated that 80% of those who have chosen plans through the federal and state marketplaces have paid their first month's premiums, a key indicator of coverage. They also offered criticisms of the law, including the problems with state and federal websites and new fees on health insurers. The Hill reported this morning that the House currently has no more scheduled votes or hearings on the ACA.

Behavioral Health

On Wednesday, Senators Murray (D-WA), Blunt (R-MO), Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rubio (R-FL) plan to introduce a bipartisan bill entitled "Caring for Military Children with Developmental Disabilities Act of 2014."  The bill will amend TRICARE military health care to provide "behavioral health treatment, including applied behavior analysis," to children with developmental disabilities (as defined by the DD Act).  The amendment is similar to one offered by Murray and Gillibrand last year during the reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  With strong bipartisan support, AUCD is hopeful that the amendment will pass this time.  AUCD is helping to build a coalition of supporters for the amendment.

Early Childhood

Strong Start for America's Children Act

On May 14 the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing to markup the Strong Start for America's Children Act, a bill introduced by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) to increase access to early childhood education. The bill, supported by AUCD, provides grants to states to provide full-day prekindergarten programs for children from low-income families. Grants would be allocated to states based on the proportion of children age four who are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. The bill mirrors the proposal made by President Obama in the 2013 State of the Union address to make early childhood education universally accessible to all children. See past issues of In Brief for more information on the introduction and past hearings on the bill.


On Friday the House passed a bill (HR 10) by a bipartisan vote of 360-45 to reauthorize and expand federal charter school programs. The Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act would consolidate the two existing federal charter school financing programs - the Charter School Program and Charter School Credit Enhancement Program - and authorize $300 million per year to give grants to states to open new charter schools and expand and replicate high-quality charter school models. The bill would also allow states to create weighted lotteries that favor educationally disadvantaged students for entry into charter schools. Despite bipartisan support in the House, a future for the bill in the Senate is uncertain. Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee Tom Harkin (D-IA) has said that he does not intend to mark up a charter schools bill this year. The CCD Education Task Force sent a letter of support for the bill.

President's Committee on People with Intellectual Disabilities

On Friday the White House announced new appointments to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID), including many new appointees with ties to the AUCD network. Julie Petty, a PCPID member since 2011 and Project Trainer at Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas, has been appointed Chair of the committee. Elizabeth Weintraub, AUCD staff member; Jack Brandt, AUCD Legislative Committee members and Disability Policy Specialist at the Partnership for People with Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University; and Deborah Spitalnik, Director of the Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities at Rutgers University's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and past AUCD President, were also re-appointed as members. New members with AUCD ties include Michelle Reynolds, Director of the Individual Advocacy and Family Support at the Institute for Human Development at the University of Missouri Kansas City; Lisa Pugh, coordinator of the Wisconsin Disability Policy Partnership; and Sheryl White-Scott, Medical Specialist for the Metro Office of the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and past president of AUCD. For the full list and additional biographical information see the White House announcement.

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