Disability Policy News In Brief

October 26, 2015

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October 26, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 44
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Budget and Appropriations

Breaking news!  We have just learned that Congressional leaders and the White House are getting close to reaching a two-year budget deal - as soon as tonight. The deal includes a debt limit increase (set to reach its limit on Nov. 3). According to Politico, a Hill newspaper, the deal would boost defense and nondefense spending by $50 billion next year, and $30 billion the year after, split evenly between defense and nondefense programs, thus allowing for an agreement on FY 2016 appropriations bills to move forward and preventing sequestration cuts. The deal could also contain a reallocation between Social Security trust funds to resolve the crisis in the SSDI program.

In related news, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) held a roundtable discussion with students from Howard University on October 20. Participants included Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-District of Columbia) and CBC Chair Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). During the event, panelists discussed the harmful impact that sequestration would have upon public education and welfare initiatives that support students and members of minority communities.


On Friday, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released guidance to state and local educational agencies to clarify that students with specific learning disabilities - such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia - have unique educational needs and clarifies that there is nothing in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that would prohibit the use of these terms in a student's evaluation or in the development of his/her individualized education program (IEP).  AUCD believes this guidance will help schools and families have better and clearer conversations about students' unique needs. For more information, please see the blog post by Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services on the guidance.


The Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) announced $12.6 million to provide vocational training and technical assistance to persons with disabilities in nine states and the District of Columbia. The grants will also fund professional training and education in best practices for vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors and other federal personnel who provide employment assistance.



AUCD signed on to a letter submitted by CCD, PIPC, and the Friends of NCBDDD to the Office of the Director of the Division of Health Interview Statistics in response to the concerns that the number of disability related questions might be reduced in the National Health Interview Survey.  The coalition letter provides a justification for continuing to include the broad range of questions in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The NHIS enables useful data collection, particularly with regard to aging populations. The letter's signatories called for the NHIS to build upon its success in this area by including additional questions about caregivers that will deepen data resources for disability advocates.

Behavioral health grants

On October 19, the Department of Health and Human Services HHS awarded $22.9 million in planning grants to state governments to help secure behavioral health services for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries in community clinics. The grants are meant to integrate behavioral health resources into primary care facilities where Medicaid and CHIP patients seek treatment and improve existing resources to support individuals who have mental illness or substance use disorders. See if your state has won a grant on the HHS website.

Medicare Medication Therapy

The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on October 21 to discuss potential reforms to the Medicare Part D Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Program. Tim Gronniger, director of Delivery System Reform for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) testified regarding a new demonstration initiative intended to improve the MTM Program. Other witnesses also appeared before the committee, including Lawrence Kocot, National Leader of the Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight, Mark Merritt, President of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, Jesse McCullough, director of Field Clinical Services for the Rite Aid Corporation, and Richard Thomas, Associate Director of Stroke at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

For this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviewed Adriane Griffen, AUCD's Director of Public Health, about collaborative initiatives that support early identification and inclusive health planning, such as the Act Early Network and the Public Health is for Everyone toolkit.  In case you missed last week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviewed Ari Ne'eman, the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, about the Network's goals and the development and impact of managed care.  

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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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