Disability Policy News In Brief

March 16, 2015

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March 16, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 11
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. House and Senate leadership are expected to release federal budget plans for the 2016 Fiscal Year that begins on Oct. 1.


The House and Senate Budget committees are expected to release their 10-year budget plans for Fiscal Year 2016 this week. Those plans could include reconciliation instructions used to cut mandatory spending, perhaps in addition to cutting spending or taxes. The Budget Resolution provides a blueprint for federal spending for the next fiscal year. Disability advocates are concerned about potential cuts to programs that support people with disabilities in the community such as Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. AUCD and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities have been strongly opposed to attempts to convert Medicaid financing into a block grant, as such a move would shift costs to states and beneficiaries and reduce access to disability services funded by the program. For more analysis of the expected proposal, see this analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Family Support

Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) is asking his fellow Members of the House of Representatives to join him in a letter to the Appropriations Committee supporting funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program. The Lifespan Respite Care Program provides competitive grants to make quality respite available for family caregivers. The letter requests the same amount of funding proposed in the President's Budget, a $3 million increase for total FY16 funding of $5 million. The National Respite Care Coalition has also released an action alert supporting the letter.  AUCD members are encouraged to request that their Members of Congress sign on to this important letter.


Since the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) was enacted last year, states have been actively working toward implementation of ABLE account programs. Last week, the state legislatures in West Virginia and Utah each passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Program and Tax Credits Act. Louisiana and Massachusetts have already enacted legislation to pave the way for the law to be implemented. So far, 45 states are pursuing ABLE Accounts, 29 have had ABLE bills introduced in this legislative session, and 14 have draft bills awaiting introduction. In other ABLE Act news, on March 10, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced Notice 2015-18 regarding a provision it expects to be included in the proposed regulations that provide important clarifications. For more information on how to help your state implement the ABLE Act, sign up for a FREE webinar "Understanding ABLE" to be held on March 26 sponsored by The Arc, NDI, Autism Speaks, and NDSS.


Last week, President Obama announced the New TechHire Initiative, which provides $100 million in grants toward paths to employment of Americans in technology jobs. Included in the Initiative is a $100 million grant competition by the Department of Labor to support "innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment" including people with disabilities.  For more information visit the New TechHire Initiative webpage.

Disability Policy Seminar

Early Bird Registration for the Disability Policy Seminar has been extended through Wednesday, March 18.  The Disability Policy Seminar will take place April 13-15, 2015 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, D.C.  It's an exciting time in Washington right now with important education laws being considered, funding decisions being decided, and new laws and regulations, such as ABLE Act, Workforce Innovation (WIOA), and community living rules, that need to be fully understood to be implemented well. Knowledge is power!  See the draft program and register online now!  AUCD is also providing a free webinar: What to Know Before You Go: Preparing for the Disability Policy Seminar 2015 on March 31.

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For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

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

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