Disability Policy News In Brief

September 7, 2015

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September 7, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 37
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, Sept. 8 following a month-long August recess.   This week, the Senate will focus on resolution to contain Iran from building nuclear weapons.  However, next in priority will be for Congress to deal with passing federal funding bills or a continuing resolution before the Oct. 1 new fiscal year begins or face the government having to shut down as it did in 2013 when Congress and the Administration couldn't agree on funding priorities (see also Budget below).  Other priories for the Fall related to AUCD priorities includes the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Higher Education Act (HEA) (See Education below). 

Budget and Appropriations

This week, Congress will be returning from its August recess with only a few weeks left before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.  Congress has not passed a single funding bill--in part because the discretionary caps established in 2011 are way too low and do not provide adequate funding for important health, education, research, and human services programs.  These include programs like health care, ESEA and special education (IDEA), employment and training under WIOA, and other disability programs that help people stay or become independent and self-sufficient.  If Congress does not act to raise these caps, these programs may face devastating cuts due to sequestration.  AUCD believes these cuts will hurt our economy and threaten our health and safety.  AUCD emailed an action alert to the network this morning urging its Members and allies to contact Members of Congress to urge them to act now in a bipartisan fashion to raise the caps and pass responsible appropriations bills before the new fiscal year begins.  See AUCD's Action Center to help with this important issue.  (see also the Aug. 3 issue of In Brief).

AUCD signed onto a letter developed by the NDD United, a coalition of national organizations calling for Congress to raise the non-defense discretionary spending caps and advocating for a more balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes raising revenues not just funding cuts.  The letter garnered more than 2,500 signatures and will be delivered to Members of Congress on Thursday followed by a press event on Capitol Hill.  For more information about the coalition, toolkits with talking points, and background information on the budget, please visit the NDD United action center.

Health Care

AUCD provided comments to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on the draft recommendation statement on screening for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in young children. While AUCD agrees with the need for high quality research to address the gaps identified in the draft recommendation statement, the association's statement warned of potential unintended negative consequences of the Task Force's draft statement resulting in less than optimal outcomes for individuals on the spectrum. AUCD believes there is sufficient reason to believe that there are important benefits to universal screening for autism in young children and that these outweigh any potential risks. Hence, AUCD continues to support the recommendation for universal autism screening with standardized tools at 18 and 24 months in conjunction with general developmental screening and surveillance, consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics' Bright Futures Guidelines. AUCD further suggests in its comments that the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) should respond to these research gaps. In addition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should be sufficiently funded to provide the support needed to ensure that the appropriate studies can be undertaken.    

The US Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights last week published a proposed Rule to implement Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act related to nondiscrimination provisions. It is available in pre-publication version and will be published in the federal register on September 8. Comments will be due November 6. See the Pre-publication version here.  If you would like to join the workgroup providing comments on this NPRM for AUCD, please email Kim Musheno.


Both the House and Senate are working to finalize a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA, S. 1177) was agreed to in the Senate by a vote of 81-17 on July 16.  The Student Success Act (HR 5) was passed in the House of Representatives on July 8 by a vote of 218-213.  The next step is for Members of the House and Senate to meet in conference to work out the differences between the two bills. The House and Senate will then have to pass the compromise bill before it is sent to the White House for the President's signature.  We expect the conferees to begin work this Fall.  AUCD emailed an Action Alert to the network at the beginning of the August recess outlining recommendations to the conferees to improve the bill.  AUCD has also been meeting with staff of Members of Congress over the August recess to inform them about its priorities. For more information and to help educate Members of Congress about these priorities, please see AUCD's ESEA Action Alert.  House and Senate Education Committee leaders are also preparing to reauthorize the Higher Education Act as soon as the ESEA bill is finalized.  AUCD is putting together recommendations on HEA now.  If you have recommendations to add, please send them to Kim Musheno.

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS): Statewide Transition Plans (STP)

As per the requirements of the new HCBS settings rule, all states (with the exception of Vermont) have submitted HCBS Statewide Transition Plans to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Currently, CMS is in the process of reviewing these plans and has recently sent out 24 Clarifications and/or Modifications required for Initial Approval (CMIA) letters. These letters notify the states that public comment, input and summary requirements are met, but CMS has identified issues that must be resolved in the STP prior to initial approval. To monitor the progress of your state, visit HCBS Advocacy. For any questions on HCBS or if you have any additions you feel should be on the site please contact Christine Grosso

Early Screening

The House Energy and Commerce Committee takes up a bill (HR 1344)  today to reauthorize the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015, which is Sect. 3999M of the Public Health Service Act.  This bill reauthorizes Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs over the next five years. To ensure the continued success of existing EHDI programs, this legislation makes a number of key improvements, including expanding EHDI programs to include young children, clarifying the roles of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and improving access to appropriate follow-up and intervention when hearing loss is identified. According to an AAA issue brief, when the legislation was first approved in 2000, 44% of newborns were screened for hearing loss. Since the successful implementation of EHDI programs, this number has increased to approximately 97% of all newborns. The bill was introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Lois Capps (D-CA) on March 10, 2015.  The bill has 26 bipartisan co-sponsors.  There is no Senate companion bill to date.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's edition, Liz interviewed former Senator and strong disability leader, Tom Harkin (D-IA), about his thoughts on the 25th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act and other reflections on his time in office.  This exciting interview will be published later today.  Also, In case you missed it, last week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviewed Sharon Lewis, Principle Deputy Administrator of the Administration for Community Living, and her daughter, Zoe Lewis, about here experience entering college this Fall. See all TWL episodes on YouTube. 


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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