Disability Policy News In Brief

June 15, 2015

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June 15, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 24
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Congressional Schedule

Last week Tuesday, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.  The Office of Management and Budget has warned that the President would veto the bill because the funding is too low and because of policy riders.  This was the fifth of twelve spending bills passed for fiscal 2016 by the House; there are 7 remaining bills to pass by the October 1 beginning of a new fiscal year.  AUCD has learned that the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee markup will be held this Wednesday morning.  According to Hill news sources, the Senate is planning to markup the week of June 22.

According Hill staff, the Senate may take up a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the Every Child Achieves Act, S.1177) as early as this week.  AUCD has been actively educating Senate staff, joining with other members of the disability and civil rights community, to strengthen the bill. AUCD has four major areas of concern with ECAA; 1.) Currently the bill does not hold states and schools accountable for meeting the academic needs of all students; 2) there is no requirement that school districts equitably distribute resources 3.) the data collection process needs to be stronger/ more transparent including cross-tabulation and disaggregation of data by subgroups and; 4) the federal role must be restored so that the Secretary of Education can adequately review state plans and monitor state actions. It is likely that amendments will be offered on 3 out of 4 of our major concern; without these improvements, AUCD and other disability and civil rights advocates may not be able to support the bill (see April 13 LCCHR letter to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray).  The House bill (H.R. 5) continues to be stalled, reportedly not having enough votes to pass it. 

Social Security

On June 3, 2015 Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) convened a House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Human Resources hearing: "Protecting the Safety Net from Waste, Fraud, and Abuse". The focus of the hearing was on identifying and preventing/ eliminating the sources of waste, fraud, and abuse in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Unemployment Insurance (UI). The first panel compromised of members of congress proposing bills on a variety of topics including reinforcing laws preventing prisoners from collecting benefits, eliminate 'double dipping', and measures focused on supporting and accommodating individuals receiving disability benefits.  Visit the Committee website to review testimony and for more information.

Tomorrow, June 16, the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) management of earnings reports from disability beneficiaries trying to return to the workforce.

Health Care
On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan (R-WI), held a hearing to discuss President Obama's 2016 fiscal year budget of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The panel representing the President's budget was Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of HHS. Representative Ryan stated his belief that the ACA leads to higher premiums, lesser quality and fewer choices. Secretary Burwell presented evidence that the ACA has saved $300 billion since its implementation. The remainder of the hearing was directed towards the possibility of a bill to repeal the ACA.   


On June 9th, 2015 the Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) released their report Priced Out entailing findings that on a national scale non-elderly people with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are most burdened by the shortage of decent housing. SSI payments are 23% shy of the national poverty line and the average SSI has declined by 7% in recent years. These circumstances create a near impossible scenario for the recipients to find affordable housing, culminating in many more people living in homelessness. To combat these circumstances, the TAC recommends that there be a push for federal subsidies for housing and an employment initiative to help close the housing gap that afflicts nearly five million people. These findings create a powerful tool to advocate for more affordable housing and greater government assistance at both the federal and state level. The full report can be read here: Priced Out


On June 9th the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a letter to the executives of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for not meeting the mandate to provide the necessary benefits to individuals with disabilities. The violations included bathroom stalls that were too narrow, lack of ramps to access the train station, high ticket counters and inaccessible telephones. Upon investigation, Amtrak found that only 18 of their 398 stations met the regulation. Amtrak must make the necessary changes to comply with the DOJ.

Child Abuse

The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) released a report detailing the displacement and incorrect treatment of incarcerated youth with disabilities and recommendations for correcting the mistreatment. NDRN reports that while incarceration rates have declined and policy efforts have helped to close some facilities, punishment methods mirror those of adult correction facilities. Solitary confinement is often implemented yet much more harmful to young people rather than adults. In order to combat these and other identified issues, NDRN recommends that Congress pass legislation to increase funding that helps divert youth from entering these facilities while also clarifying the language to eliminate the use of solitary confinement for juveniles. The NDRN plans to use this research to promote awareness of the ongoing problems that many youth face.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Last week, Liz interviewed Michael Murray, from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and had a great conversation about disability and employment. In tomorrow's edition of Tuesday with Liz, Liz talk with Tiffany Putt, AUCD'S summer intern about her life and how policy can help her.


A White House Conference on Aging, a once-a-decade conference, will be held on July 13, 2015.  This year's event coincides with the 50 anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The Administration plans to use this opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade. The conference will focus on retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and elder justice.  


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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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