Disability Policy News In Brief

October 19, 2015

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October 19, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 43
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Congressional Schedule and Budget

Congress returns from a Columbus Day break with a tight, high pressured schedule. Between now and November 5, our country's debt will reach a statutory cap or ceiling.  If Congress does not pass a resolution to raise the debt ceiling, our country could go into default.  However, a group of conservative House Republicans are demanding reforms to entitlement programs in exchange for their support for a resolution to raise the debt ceiling.  Another important deadline is the December 11 expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR). 

Passage of both of these must-pass bills has also been complicated by the House of Representative's inability to be united in selecting a new Speaker to replace Boehner who is hoping to step down by the end of October. On that issue, some Members of Congress are still hoping that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will accept the nomination and unite the Republicans under his leadership.  AUCD is closely watching these developments and their impact on policies important to the Association. For more details, see today's Politico article on the budget.

Budget and Revenue

AUCD signed on to a letter in support of S. 1686, the Carried Interest Fairness Act of 2015, a bill introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) that would close the "carried interest loophole" in the tax code. This provision in tax law allows private equity and hedge fund investment managers to pay a lower capital gains rate which is 15% lower than an ordinary income tax rate, thereby allowing many wealthier citizens to pay a lower tax rate than other families, widening the income gap among taxpayers. The proposed Carried Interest Fairness Act would close the tax provision and apply the subsequent tax revenue to the budget deal that Congress is currently trying to reach in order to avoid sequestration. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the loophole's closure would generate $15.6 billion, making it a measure that not only supports fairer taxation but helps cover a budget shortfall without cutting essential programs.

 Social Security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced there will not be any cost-of-living increase for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2016. Normally, the SSA increases such benefits each year based on the inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). However, the CPI-W has actually declined over the last year, meaning that the traditional increase will not happen. In contrast, medical expenses and housing are expected to become more expensive over the next year, potentially straining the resources of many Social Security beneficiaries.


The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) held its sixth public meeting last week (see agenda).  The committee discussed the recent work of the six subcommittees.  They also heard from panels of invited providers and individuals and families about their experiences providing and receiving services in center-based work settings. Jack Brandt, policy specialist at the Partnership for People with Disabilities (VA UCEDD), provided oral testimony on behalf of AUCD at the meeting along with 12 other individuals and organizations (see testimony online).  Most of the participants testified in support of preliminary recommendations contained within the interim report of the Committee. The meeting concluded with a discussion on next steps for the final report, which will be drafted February-April of 2016 and sent to Secretary of Congress September 15, 2016.


Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell announced on October 15 that according to the federal government's projections, 10 million people will be enrolled in coverage via the Health Insurance Marketplaces and will be paying their premiums by the end of 2016. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expects that more than 25% of individuals who are Marketplace-eligible and insured will choose personal plans during Open Enrollment. The newly announced enrollment expectations were derived from information analyzed by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) and issued in a brief today.

Secretary Burwell also announced that HHS will award more than $240 million to support the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps, which support aspiring health professionals in exchange for commitment to working in underserved communities. The increased investment, which includes $176 million in Affordable Care Act funding, is aimed at strengthening the community health workforce while increasing accessary to primary care in under-resourced areas.  

                                                                                                                                 Education/Dyslexia Research

H.R. 3033, the Research Excellence and Advancement (READ) Act, which requires the National Science Foundation (NSF) to devote specified funding to dyslexia research, was sent to the House floor for consideration. Having been marked up and approved by the House Science Space and Technology Committee, the bill would place a mandatory line item for the NSF'S Research in Disabilities Education program into the President's annual budget request to Congress and would obligate the NSF to conduct research on dyslexia. It currently has 30 cosponsors (16 Republicans and 14 Democrats).

While there is no Senate companion bill to H.R. 3033, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee conducted its own interactions with supporters of increased federal support for dyslexia research this week. The committee held two field hearings in Louisiana, where the senators visited Louisiana State University and the University of New Orleans to hear testimony from special education experts, academics, and local community members who are involved in dyslexia advocacy.  

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's Tuesday with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Ari Ne'eman, the President and the Co -Founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. During the interview, they discuss the Network's goals and the development and impact of managed care. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Colleen Thoma, Professor of Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University, about higher education for students with disability, its relationship to employment, and recommendations concerning education that resulted from a recent National Goals conference.







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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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