Disability Policy News In Brief

September 28, 2015

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September 28, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 40
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Speaker Boehner Resigns

In a surprise move, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his resignation on September 25. At different junctures over the course of a Congressional career that lasted 25 years, he served as chairman of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce, House Majority Leader and Minority Leader before ascending to the speakership. He will leave Congress on October 30.  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is said to be most likely elected as his successor.

Budget and Appropriations

Last week the Senate released a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would have funded the government through Dec. 11.  However, the Senate blocked consideration of the measure that includes a one-year prohibition on federal funding for Planned Parenthood unless the clinic certifies that it will not perform abortions. The Senate is now expected to take up a "clean" CR (without the Planned Parenthood policy rider) and send it to the House.  If the CR is not passed by October 1, the new Fiscal Year, federally funded programs could shut down. The CR would continue spending at FY 2015 levels with a 0.21% across-the-board cut to adhere to the $1.017 trillion spending cap established by the Budget Control Act.  Hill news sources report that Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) retirement makes a shutdown less likely, but the long term budget negotiations are uncertain.

Home Health Care Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a rule in late 2013 that affects home care services for people with disabilities and seniors.  After extensive litigation, an appeals court in Washington, DC upheld the rule on August 21, 2015.  This means the rule will soon go into effect, and may impact some states' long-term care programs. AUCD has endorsed a fact sheet and advocacy guide developed by a small workgroup led by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law: Home Care Advocacy Steps and Fact Sheet. The guide provides strategies for disability and aging advocates to push for implementation of the rule in a way that does not harm people with disabilities and seniors.  The guide will be disseminated this week.

ACA Open Enrollment Period

On September 22, 2015, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia M. Burwell spoke at Howard University College of Medicine on the progress of the first five years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and provided a look at the upcoming Open Enrollment period. Citing a new ASPE Data Point released by HHS, the Secretary noted that about 17.6 million uninsured people have gained health coverage as the law's coverage provisions have taken effect. The number of uninsured people has decreased for three reasons: 1) allowing young people up to age 26 to remain on their parents' plans, 2) the Medicaid expansion in 29 states plus DC, and 3) the availability of affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. With Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning its third year on November 1, the Secretary acknowledged that "overall, this Open Enrollment is going to be tougher than last year. But while those remaining uninsured may be harder to reach, we're working smarter to reach them." Read the full press release here, and Secretary Burwell's remarks here.


The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a full committee hearing regarding H.R. 3033, the Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ) on September 30. The bill, sponsored by Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), requires that the President's budget request include a line item for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Research in Disabilities Education program. It would also mandate the NSF to conduct research on dyslexia.


The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold an executive session to discuss S. 1893, the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act o on September 30. The bill was introduced by Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in July and is cosponsored by a 21 bipartisan Senators.


On September 22, Google hosted a special panel on the future of technology and individuals with disabilities. The event, which formed part of the Google DC Talks series, featured four panelists: Dr. Jane Chiang, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Community Information at the American Diabetes Association, Paul Schroder, Vice President for Programs and Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind, Sohini Chowdhury, Senior Vice President for Research Partnerships at the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Henry Claypool, former Senior Advisor on Disability to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The panel members stressed that technology offers unique opportunities to share knowledge about disabilities, whether in the form of factual information about specific conditions and resources or personal accounts of experiences that serve both as individual expression and a reminder to others with disabilities that they are not alone. The speakers concluded with an appeal for greater engagement between developers and the disability community, noting that there is still a lingering bias toward visual interfaces in new devices as well as insufficient investment in encouraging those with disabilities to pursue STEM careers.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz Weintraub (AUCD'S Advocacy Specialist) will be interviewing Kim Musheno (AUCD'S director of Public Policy) about federal funding and its connection to Planned Parenthood. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Heather Sachs, the Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy at the National Down Syndrome Society, regarding the ABLE Act, which stands for Achieving Better Life Experience. Subscribe to Tuesdays with Liz so you do not miss out on any interviews.


U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are jointly issuing guidance to states, school districts and early childhood providers urging them to make a place for kids with special needs.

Project ASCEND, a nonprofit organization focused on civic engagement and education issues, announced the formation of its 2016 Scholars Program, an initiative that will grant five $1,000 college scholarships to students with disabilities in the Washington, D.C area. The scholarships will be funded through the 2015 Advocates in Disability Award, which was granted to Project ASCEND's founder Odunola Ojewumi by the HSC Foundation and Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.


Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its 2016 Medicaid Managed Care Rate Development Guide. This document will assist states in developing their Medicaid managed care rates for periods beginning on or after January 1, 2016. States and their actuaries are encouraged to follow this guide in the development of their actuarial certifications. After states submit their proposals, CMS will use this Guide as well as the regulations found at 42 CFR 438.6 as the basis for the review of 2016 actuarial certifications.

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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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