Disability Policy News In Brief

March 30, 2015

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March 30, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 13
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Congressional Schedule

Both Houses of Congress are on recess for the Easter and Passover holidays.


The House of Representatives voted to approve their FY 2016 budget resolution by a vote of 228-199, with 17 Republicans joining all 182 Democrats in voting against the plan. The resolution is not a law, instead it lays out a blueprint for federal spending and includes policy proprieties of the majority party. The resolution, authored by Tom Price (R-GA), Chair of the House Budget Committee, would turn Medicaid into a block grant, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and require massive cuts to other programs important to people with disabilities. The resolution passed only after the limit for war spending was raised by $36 billion as a means of raising defense spending beyond the caps required by the Budget Control Act. 

The Senate also voted 52-46 to approve their FY 2016 budget resolution. Senate rules differ from the House, allowing an unlimited amendment process knowns as "vote-a-rama," in which Senators offer politically charged amendments to the resolution, even though those amendments would have no force of law. Almost 800 amendments were filed, but the Senate only voted on 49. The Senate approved amendments related to paid sick leave and ending sequestration, and voted down amendments to increase resources for Medicaid, expand access to education, expand Social Security. Next, the House and Senate will reconcile differences between the resolutions and to create a joint concurrent resolution, with instructions to appropriating and authorizing committees for spending limits and budget cutting amounts. Read more about the House and Senate budget resolutions in last week's In Brief.


The House has approved a permanent replacement for the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment schedule in Medicare. The SGR model is widely considered a failure and has been patched on a short term basis nearly 20 times by Congress. This permanent repeal would replace it with a physician payment model based on patient health and value, not volume, of health care services. The legislation also permanently extends programs intended to help low-income Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and partially extends (for two years) funding for disability programs like the Family to Family Health Information Centers and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The bill also extends the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that the Senate will vote on the bill when it returns from recess in April. Learn more about the bill from Kaiser Health News.

AUCD joined other "Friends of NCBDDD" in a letter to House and Senate appropriations leaders urging them to provide $132 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).  The Friends of NCBDDD is a coalition of government and private sector participants who work together to enhance the mission and activities of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) in identifying the causes of birth defects and developmental disabilities; helping children to develop and reach their full potential; and promoting health and well-being among people of all ages with disabilities, including blood disorders.

Child Abuse Prevention

Today the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced that it is removing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) regulations in their entirety effective June 29, 2015. In their announcement they reported:   "These regulations no longer apply to the CAPTA programs they were originally designed to implement because of major legislative changes to CAPTA since the regulations were issued." HHS indicates that the removal of the regulations does not establish or affect substantive policy stating that saying that "it is unnecessary and outmoded to implement the CAPTA state grant programs through regulation. We believe the program requirements are made clear in the statute and have provided policy interpretations and program instructions to implement the program since 1996 in lieu of regulations."

Restraint and Seclusion

An updated report on state laws and regulations related to the prevention of restraints and seclusion in schools has just been published.   Jessica Butler, the congressional affairs coordinator for the Autism National Committee has been tracking the issue since 2009.   The report includes a highlighted map that delineates between states that have "meaningful" protections for children from both restraint and seclusion, states that have "meaningful" protections for children with disabilities only from both restraint and seclusion, and states that have a mixed scheme with some protections for all children, and other protections only for students with disabilities. The map does not include Virginia, which passed a law earlier this month restricting the use of restraint and seclusion, but does not have regulations in place.  Christina Samuels of Ed Week who wrote a short article about the report points out that even though many states are now passing laws using the national bill as an example, points out that a national policy is still important. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act (HR 927) in the new Congress.  We are hoping for a Senate companion bill to be introduced soon. For information is available in the March 2, In Brief


AUCD is currently reviewing several bills related to school-wide climate and professional development that have recently been introduced. 

On March 27 Senators Casey (D-PA) and Reed (RI) introduced the BEST Act which provides grant funding for states regarding teacher training and Title II of ESEA .  The bill will likely be offered as an amendment to the ESEA.  The bill specifically supports training to ensure that general education teachers know and understand how to teach diverse learners, clarifies that special education teachers are eligible for the same professional development as other teachers and assures that professional development can specifically include PBIS, MTSS, UDL, school climate and providing accommodations among many other important elements of training. 

On March 5, 2015, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) also introduced the Keep Kids in School Act ( S.672), a bill designed to decrease suspensions in school , noting that students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be suspended than those without.  Among other things, the bill provides additional resources and technical support for implementing professional development for school districts that are struggling with high numbers and disparities of suspensions and expulsions.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Supportive School Climate Act of 2015 (S.811) on March 19, 2015 a bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to address the "school-to-prison pipeline" by reducing suspension, expulsions, and other overly harsh school disciplinary actions to improve youth outcomes. The bill would allow states to use federal education funds for positive behavioral interventions and supports to improve school climate and prevent unnecessary suspensions and expulsions.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In last week's episode of Tuesdays with Liz, Liz interviewed Taryn Williams, Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.  Taryn Williams serves as the White House's liaison to the disability community. The interview covers a variety of topics including the Curb Cuts to the Middle Class initiative, access to post-secondary education, and the upcoming anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Subscribe to Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All and never miss Liz's weekly policy updates and other interviews from high-level disability advocates and policymakers. 

Disability Policy Seminar

We hope you have registered by now to participate in this year's Disability Policy Seminar! The deadline to register has passed but you can still register on-site.  The most important day of the event is Wednesday, April 15, for Hill visits.  Please follow the instructions on how to make Hill visit appointments and be sure to do this before you arrive.   If you are a first-timer to the Disability Policy Seminar, you should register for the AUCD-AAIDD webinar, "Know Before You Go: Preparing for the Disability Policy Seminar 2015" scheduled for March 31 at 2 p.m. ET.

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

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

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

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


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