AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 2, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
    September 2, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 35
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate will be back in session next week. At the top of the busy congressional agenda when they return will be passing a continuing resolution. Also on the agenda are the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the ABLE Act.  Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) also hopes to move the annual defense authorization bill that includes an amendment to cover behavioral health for children of military families.

Federal Budget

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its regular August update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024. In keeping with past findings, CBO reports that the federal budget deficit has fallen sharply during the past few years and will continue to decline for the next few years. However, under current laws and in the coming decade revenues will grow only slightly faster than the economy and spending will increase more rapidly, causing debt and deficits to grow. The primary drivers of long-term cost are demographic changes to our society and rising health costs. For more, see this short video from the Brookings Institution called The Federal Debt: All You Need to Know in Three Minutes.

Medicare and Medicaid

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have entered into an agreement to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access information provided by CMS and its contractors in CMS programs. The agreement resolves two complaints filed with OCR by a national disability rights advocacy organization, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), on behalf of two named complainants participating in the Medicare Program and other Medicare consumers who are blind or have low vision and who need accessible information in Medicare communications. The "Commitment to Action" resolves the issues raised in DREDF's complaint about access to the Medicare program and goes further, applying to all individuals with disabilities participating in all CMS programs including Medicaid.

Person-Centered Planning

The National Association of States United for Aging and Disability (NASUAD) hosted a call with Shawn Terrell of the Administration on Community living (ACL) to discuss person centered planning guidance that ACL issued in July 2014. This guidance was released in accordance with Section 2402(a) of the Affordable Care Act, which directed HHS to develop regulations that promote better coordination, consistency, and improved resource allocation for LTSS programs. It dovetails with the person-centered planning rules included in the new HCBS regulation, and applies these principles beyond Medicaid HCBS to all HHS-funded programs. NASUAD has made available PowerPoint slides and an audio file of the call.

Higher Education

On June 25, 2014, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Higher Education Affordability Act, a bill to reauthorize and improve the Higher Education Opportunity Act (P.L. 110-315). With the help of Think College and other Policy Committee members, AUCD recently provided comments to the draft bill. The comments focus on amendments to the Model Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID), a $10 million program that increases postsecondary education opportunities for those students. The bill has not yet been scheduled for committee action and there is no House companion bill to date. For more information, contact Kim Musheno at [email protected].

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

AUCD's webinar on the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is now available in archive. The webinar highlights the job training improvements for people with disabilities in the new law and how the AUCD network can be involved. President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law in late July.

Family Support

AUCD signed on to a letter to Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) supporting the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4683) and the Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act (H.R. 4892), which he recently introduced. The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act is a stand-alone bill that would reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Act at $15 million for five years. The Military and Veteran Caregiver Services Improvement Act also includes a five year reauthorization of the Lifespan Respite Care Program at the same funding level and makes more explicitly the eligibility of veterans and their caregivers.

Veterans Mental Health

In remarks at the American Legion's National Convention, President Obama announced 19 new executive actions to support the mental health needs of military service members and veterans, including actions aimed at reducing homelessness. The initiatives include improved transition from Department of Defense to Department of Veterans Affairs mental health care, funding to research and develop treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide prevention programs.


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