Disability Policy News In Brief

March 2, 2015

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March 2, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 9
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are in session this week. Both will continue to work on funding for the Department of Homeland Security.


The White House issued a statement in opposition to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) the same day the House of Representatives Rules Committee met to determine which of the over 100 amendments would be considered on the House floor (about half were considered "in order"). The President opposes H.R. 5 for a number of reasons, including the lack of high-quality statewide annual testing which is used to measure how students are doing from year to year. AUCD joined with 35 other national organizations in a CCD letter urging Representatives not to support HR 5 as currently written.  AUCD also wrote a letter supporting Ranking Member Bobby Scott's substitute bill, which includes provisions that support students with disabilities right to have equal access and opportunity with their peers in public school. The House of Representatives debated the bill Thursday and Friday; however the bill stalled late Friday afternoon after House leaders realized there were not enough votes to pass the bill. 

In the Senate, Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee continue to negotiate the outlines of a bipartisan agreement to reauthorize the ESEA. Chairman Alexander has stated that he would like the full Senate to pass a bill by the end of March.

AUCD emailed several action alerts to the network encouraging action on House and Senate bills, which are now posted in the online action center.

Restraints and Seclusion

AUCD joined 200 other national, state, and local organizations in a letter to Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) for introducing the Keeping All Students Safe Act, H.R. 927 and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member of the Education and Workforce Committee, for being the bill's primary original cosponsor. On Friday, February 27, Rep. Scott included the Keeping All Students Safe Act in his substitute to the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Congressman Beyer lent his support in a floor statement discussing the disproportionate impact that restraint/seclusion has on students with disabilities and students of color.  So far, the bill has 30 congressional cosponsors.  AUCD encourages AUCD members to educate Members of Congress about the need for federal legislation reducing the use of restraints and seclusion.


The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the "Vital Responsibility of Serving the Nation's Aging and Disabled Communities." The witnesses were Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration and Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living. Questions focused on the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund, but also included questions for Assistant Secretary Greenlee about assistive technology, the Protection & Advocacy Program, and the Home and Community-Based Services Settings Rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Watch the video on the committee website.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell testified at two hearings on the Hill last week about the Fiscal Year 2016 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services, in both the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Social Security

The House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing last week on "Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund's Solvency." Witnesses included Charles Blahous, Public Trustee on the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, Ed Lorenzen from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Webster Phillips of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. AUCD signed on to a CCD Statement for the Record urging for a temporary reallocation of the payroll tax between Social Security trust funds to ensure that the DI program can pay scheduled benefits through 2033. To learn more about, see several articles about SSDI on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities site.


On Wednesday, March 4 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case challenging the legality of premium subsidies for the purchase of health insurance in federally-facilitated health insurance marketplaces. For live updates, see the SCOTUS Blog. For information about the case, see the Guide to the Supreme Court Argument in King v. Burwell from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Home and Community-Based Services

Several national disability organizations have issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Home and Community-Based Services Settings regulation issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in January of 2014. States must submit to CMS a transition plan on how they will come into compliance with the rule by March 17, 2015. The FAQs should help advocates to get involved in the rule implementation. For more information, visit HCBSadvocacy.org.

The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report titled Home and Community-Based Services: Creating Systems for Success at Home, at Work and in the Community. In this report, NCD reviews the research on outcomes since the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, and finds that strong trends indicate that smaller, more dispersed and individualized community settings further integration and positive outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Family Support

Representative James Langevin (D-R) is circulating a Dear Colleague Letter asking Members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter to the House Appropriations Committee in support of FY 16 funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program. The National Respite Coalition has posted an action alert urging Members of Congress to sign the letter.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced H.R. 932, the Healthy Families Act on February 12. This measure would allow workers to earn up to seven job-protected sick days each year to be used to recover from their own illnesses, access preventive care, provide care to a sick family member, or attend school meetings related to a child's health condition or disability. Under the legislation, workers in businesses with more than 15 employees would accrue paid sick days; workers in businesses fewer than 15 employees would accrue unpaid sick days. Learn about the paid sick days campaign a http://www.paidsickdays.org/

AUCD signed on a National Child Abuse Coalition letter urging Congressional leaders to fund the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV program). The MIECHV program funding expires in March 2015; the program supports the implementation and expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs that help children and families in all 50 states, 6 territories and numerous tribes.  


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

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