Disability Policy News In Brief

August 3, 2015

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August 3, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 31
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Congressional Schedule

The House of Representatives adjourned for the month-long August recess.  The Senate is staying in session this week to finalize work on a cybersecurity bill (S. 754).  The Senate will also vote on a bill to defund Planned Parenthood (S. 1881), a bill opposed by AUCD because many women, including those with disabilities, receive health services such as contraception, family planning and cancer screening from these health clinics. The Senate will likely adjourn by Thursday. 

August recess is a good time to visit your Members of Congress when they are in their home state/district.  If you do get a chance to see them, please discuss the impact of recent budget cuts and the need to negotiate a budget that will lift sequestration caps.


Budget and Appropriations

Both House and Senate leaders hinted last week that a continuing resolution (CR) would be needed to keep the government running while Congress figures out how to pass the 12 annual appropriations bills.  None of the funding bills has passed either chamber and the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2015.  Democrats and the President have held firm that they would not support any appropriations bills that adhere to the tight discretionary caps imposed by the Budget Control Act.  While most Members of Congress say they don't want to risk a government shutdown over appropriations, the situation has become complicated in the Senate, where some Senators are demanding that passage of a bill to defund Planned Parenthood be tied to passage of a CR. AUCD is advocating for Congress to lift sequestration caps and pass a sensible budget that will not lead to cuts to important research, education, employment, welfare and other programs that support the most vulnerable populations. While a short term CR will be necessary, AUCD does not support a year-long CR that locks in caps that lead to sequestration cuts.


Technology and Medicare

On July 30, President Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act (S. 984), a bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide Medicare beneficiaries access to eye tracking accessories for speech generating devices and to remove the rental cap for durable medical equipment under the Medicare Program with respect to speech generating devices, into law.  The House passed the bill on April 22, followed by Senate passage on July 15.  AUCD strongly supported this bill that will remove barriers to getting and keeping these SGDs needed by thousands of individuals with disabilities.


Congressional Panel on Creating and Protecting a Diverse Workforce

The Committee on Education and the Workforce held a panel to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ADA. Hosted by ranking Member Bobby Scott, this panel highlighted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) ongoing central role in enforcing the ADA, and focused on barriers to opportunity, stigmas in the workplace, and the importance and impact of having a diverse workforce. Panelists included: Executive Director Andrew Imparato (AUCD), Chairwoman Jenny Yang and Commissioner Chai Feldblum (EEOC), Executive Director Jill Houghton, US Business Leadership Network, Co-director Anne Hirsh (ODEP's JAN), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.


Medicaid Managed Care Proposed Rule

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed to modernize Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) managed care regulations, which would reflect changes in the usage of managed care delivery systems. This proposed rule is the first major update to Medicaid and CHIP managed care regulations in more than a decade. It would improve beneficiary communications and access, provide new program integrity tools, support state efforts to deliver higher quality care in a cost-effective way, and better align Medicaid and CHIP managed care rules and practices with other sources of health insurance coverage. AUCD signed onto the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) comments in response to this proposed rule. Indicating that though it is clear that CMS has given serious thought to these issues there are a number of places where the rule should be more specific to ensure that the needs of beneficiaries with disabilities and special health care needs and those receiving LTSS are adequately met.



Department of Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, recently partnered with bipartisan state governor leaders to urge Governors and state governments across the country to adopt Employment First policy. Secretary Perez, Governor Jack Markell (D-DE), and Governor Dennis Daugaard (R-SD) shared a letter encouraging all fifty states to focus on the alignment of policies, practices, and funding resources to prioritize competitive integrated employment as the preferred outcome of employment services for all individuals with significant disabilities. AUCD supportive of Employment First initiatives that provide competitive, integrated employment with appropriate supports and accommodations. 


Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

Exploring Barriers and Opportunities with Innovation

The HELP Committee heard from several educational experts on ways to improve how higher education is provided to and accessed by those who have limitation. Senator Murray stated "we want to create strong pathways into and through education." Witnesses offered suggestions to improve student outcomes through the use of competency-based education, which would focus on student learning rather than credit hours earned, and non-institutional settings to provide a quality higher education at a lower price than traditional colleges.


Combating Campus Sexual Assault

The hearing addressing sexual assault aimed to identify what in the current system is working, what needs to be changed, and whether additional reforms are needed to help keep students safe. Witnesses identified areas that can bring consensus: mandatory and on-going training on prevention and awareness for all students and staff, providing a confidential advisor for those survivors, and appropriate disciplinary procedures. Federal Laws that have been updated and reauthorized as of July 1st: Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities across the US to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses, and the Title 9, Education Amendments of 1972.


 DD Act

The  Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), within the Administration for Community Living, has released a final rule providing guidance on implementing the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000.  Updates the DD act of 2000 incorporates many of the recommendations put forth by AUCD when the notice of proposed rulemaking was published in 2008. AIDD provided a webinar last week and a toolkit related to the new rule on the ACL website.


Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities

On July 31st, AUCD submitted a letter to David Mank, Committee Chair, supporting the interim report recommendations for consideration by the Secretary of Labor and Administration. We hope that these recommendations increase competitive integrated employment for individuals with disabilities. 

The committee is mandated by WIOA and is required to meet at least eight times to accomplish its work. The next committee meeting is on Monday, August 10, 2015; this meeting is open to the public - to register and access agenda.

ADA Anniversary

On July 29th, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution from U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law on July 26, 1990.

Also related to the Anniversary, on July 28th, AUCD took to the streets with several disability rights advocates in the annual tradition of the NCIL Conference. Participants marched from the Grand Hyatt to Capitol Hill carrying signs and chanting in support of disability rights. Marchers converged in front of the Capitol where they heard from numerous Federal Members of Congress.


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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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