Disability Policy News In Brief

May 18, 2015

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May 18, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 20
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May 18, 2015

Vol. XV, Issue 18

 Budget and Appropriations

AUCD signed onto a Child Welfare Coalition letter in support of the President's FY 2016 child welfare budget proposals that make targeted investments in services and supports for abused and neglected children, including those in foster care. Specifically, the letter urges support for several critical initiatives outlined within the Budget including:

  • Increase federal investments on the front-end of the child welfare service delivery system to prevent removals and foster care placements for children by allowing title IV-E funds to be used for evidence-based pre-placement services for candidates for foster care and post-placement services.
  • Amend Title IV-E to promote specialized family-based care as an alternative to congregate care for children with behavioral health needs and provide oversight when congregate placements are used.
  • Create a five-year ACF/CMS demonstration to encourage states to implement evidence-based psychosocial interventions to improve outcomes for children and youth in foster care suffering from trauma, while reducing the current over-prescription of medications.
  • Allow Title IV-E agencies to use Chafee Foster Care Independence Program funds to serve young people formerly in foster care through the age of 23.
  • Provide enhanced capacity building funds for Indian tribes, tribal organizations or consortia that are approved to operate a title IV-E program to assist with implementing the program.

These proposals would be included in the funding bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, Education, which has not yet been scheduled for markup in either chamber.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has revised its scope of benefit national coverage determination (NCD) for speech-generating devices to include text messaging, email and phone capabilities.  The agency stated that it believes a written message from a person who cannot speak serves the same purpose as audible speech.  This change was needed because of a recent policy issued by Medicare's contractors that would have prohibited coverage for any SGD that included email or internet access even if those technologies were "locked." In response to pressure from disability advocates, CMS rescinded that overly restrictive policy and issued this revised SGD coverage policy.  The public has until May 29 to comment on the proposed policy. CMS expects to finalize the policy by July 28. 

This policy change does not address other barriers to timely access to SGDs, such as "capped rental" and coverage for "eye tracking," and other technologies that enable people who have lost the use of their arms and hands.  These separate issues, will, hopefully, be address by the Steve Gleason Act (H.R. 1919/S. 768) championed by Rep. Cathy McMorris-Roger (R-WA) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).  The bill passed as an amendment to the Senate budget bill on March 27.  However, it will still need separate votes in the House and Senate to be enacted.


Senator Chuck Schumer is hosting a Capitol Hill briefing on "Elopement in Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders".  The panel of speakers includes Scott Badesch, Autism Society of America; Robert Lowery, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; Scott Martin, SafetyNet Division of LoJack Corporation; and Lori McIlwain, National Autism Association. The purpose of this briefing is to raise awareness about the issue and to garner additional co-sponsors for Avonte's Law of 2015 (S. 163), introduced earlier this year by Schumer.  The bill authorizes grants for law enforcement training and directs the Attorney General to establish standards and best practices relating to the use of tracking technology to monitor children with autism and other disabilities.

Early Childhood
The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are proposing to release a policy statement on inclusion of young children with disabilities in high-quality inclusive early childhood programs. The Department created a blog to request comments on the proposed policy statement. Comments are requested by May 22, 2015.   The CCD Education Task Force will be preparing comments.

Higher Education
On May 20, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing entitled "Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Exploring Institutional Risk-sharing."  Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) will be the first witness.  Also testifying are Andrew Kelly, Center for Higher Education Reform, American Enterprise Institute; Robert Silberman, Strayer Education, Inc.; Jennifer Wang , Young Invincibles; and Douglas Webber, Temple University.

The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a report entitled "Transportation Update:  Where We've Gone and What We've Learned". The report is a follow-up to NCD's 2005 publication on the current state of transportation for people with disabilities. The focus of this thorough, 400-page report is surface transportation. The findings address accessibility-related progress as well as problems associated with fixed route and deviation bus and rail transit (including AMTRAK); paratransit; public right of way; enforcement of existing laws; and other issues for all modes of public transit. The report makes recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch designed to improve federal collaborative efforts and to close gaps in transportation access in ways which benefit people with disabilities and families.

Home Health Care
Representative David McKinley (R-WV) is hosting a news conference/ briefing on new models of care delivery for post-acute care, including bundled payments and the implications for the future of home health and community based care.  The president of American Action Forum, Douglas Holt-Eakin and the senior program officer of the Institute of Medicine, will join the congressmen in the briefing. The briefing will also discuss highlights from the IOM's workshop on "the Future of Home Health Care" and how home and community based care should be considered in the future to improve care for older Americans and those with disabilities.   

Editor's Note: In Brief will not be published next week because of Memorial Day. In Brief will return on June 1st.   

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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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