AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 29, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
    September 29, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 39
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in recess gearing up for the November elections.


Leading bipartisan Senate negotiators on the ABLE Act (S. 313/H.R. 647) have announced that they have reached an agreement to move forward on the bill. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) released a statement on September 19 that they have "reached a policy agreement that will serve as the foundation for final passage." Details of the agreement have not been made public, including if the agreement includes provisions to offset the estimated $2 billion cost of the bill. For more information, see last week's In Brief.

Civil Rights

Senator Harkin (D-IA) has introduced three bills as part of his "Access for All" agenda to help people with disabilities achieve economic independence and reach the middle class. The "Universal Home Design Act" (S. 2889) seeks to increase the availability of accessible housing for people with disabilities by requiring certain accessibility features for single family homes and townhouses built or purchased with federal financial assistance. The "Accessible Transportation for All Act" (S. 2887) seeks to expand access to accessible taxi services and ban discrimination based on disability by taxi companies and drivers. The "Exercise and Fitness for All Act" (S. 2888) would encourage exercise and fitness service providers to provide exercise and fitness equipment that is accessible to people with disabilities.


A bipartisan group of Senators has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging the agency to expand the Medicaid Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The PACE program provides a coordinated set of primary, acute, and long-term care. The Senators have asked CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner "to release a revised PACE regulation and foster a regulatory environment that increases access to the proven, high-quality, cost-effective PACE model." This effort was led by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

Department of Justice

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced that he will leave his post at the Department of Justice (DOJ) as soon as a successor is confirmed.  Holder was well-known to the disability community for his commitment to protecting the rights of people with disabilities during his tenures under both President Clinton (as Deputy Attorney General) and President Obama (as Attorney General). Most recently, Holder led DOJ efforts to more aggressively pursue ADA and Olmstead violations, including pursuing Olmstead violations in the areas of segregated work programs. Most recently under his leadership, the Department has entered into settlement agreements in Rhode Island, New York, New Hampshire and Virginia to expand access to community-based supports and services. The DOJ's Department of Civil Rights also aggressively enforced the rights of people with disabilities, including those with mental illness, in relation to equal access to education, transportation, housing, voting, as well as actions related to preventing abuse and neglect.  President Obama announced that he is already reviewing candidates to succeed Holder.

Hearing on CHIP Reauthorization

Last week, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) - who is retiring at the end of this Congress - convened his last hearing as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Health. The topic was the reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is funded only through September 30, 2015. Senator Rockefeller has introduced a bill to fund the program through FY 2019, and advocates have been pushing Congress to extend funding for the program before the new Congress convenes in January. On Sunday, September 21, The New York Times ran an editorial advocating the same position. Testimony and a video of the hearing are available on the committee website.

Health/Durable Medical Equipment

AUCD signed onto a coalition letter thanking Reps. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) and John Larson (D-CT) for introducing bipartisan legislation, the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2014/H.R. 4920. DMEPOS stands for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. The bill will improve the design of the competitive bidding process by requiring that participating suppliers comply with state licensure requirements, be bound to the accepted CMS contracts, and provide equipment and services to their customers at the contracted rate. Medicare's current bidding process has created barriers to appropriate wheelchairs, repairs, support services, and other medical supplies by requiring people with disabilities to use certain medical equipment providers whether or not they furnish the products and services that provide the most benefit to consumers. There is some hope that this bill could possibly see action in the upcoming "lame duck" session of Congress.


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year's theme is Expect. Employ. Empower. Visit the Department of Labor page to order the poster and download other materials. To honor the month, the Six by '15 Campaign is collecting stories about employment to showcase on the blog throughout October. If you have stories to share about disability employment, send them to [email protected].

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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:

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