Disability Policy News In Brief

November 23, 2015

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November 23, 2015   |   Vol. XV, Issue 48
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AUCD National Conference

This past week (November 15-18), was the 2015 AUCD Annual Conference, "Growing Leaders, Driving Change", took place in Washington, DC. The conference theme of leadership and change closely aligns with several key goals of the recently launched AUCD Strategic Map, AUCD Legislative Priorities, and supports the important work of AUCD and its national members. For those network members who visited their congressional delegations on the Hill day, please remember to report back on any important information you may have gathered.


On November 19, a conference committee passed a compromise bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  After approving about 20 amendments to the bill, the committee approved the measure on a 39-1 vote.  The compromise bill combined the House and Senate bills: the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177) and the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).  While AUCD withholds its full support until the full text of the bill is made public, AUCD is pleased that the bill appears to strengthen the accountability system, including the one percent cap for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who can take the alternate assessment aligned to alternate achievement standards (see committee summary). The full text will likely be made available following the Thanksgiving recess when the House and Senate plan to take separate votes on the conference bill.

RAISE Family Caregivers Act

AUCD signed on to two letters thanking Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) as well as Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WS) for their bipartisan cooperation in supporting family caregivers. The letters expressed support for both the House version (H.R. 3099) and the Senate version (S. 1719) of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act, which would direct Congress to mandate the creation of a national strategy to support family caregivers. The strategy would identify specific actions that the Federal, State, and local governments can take to support family caregivers in a culturally competent manner.  The proposed legislation would authorize the formation of an advisory body of federal agencies and various public and private sector actors to make major policy recommendations. Its components derive from proposals made by the bipartisan federal Commission on Long-Term Care. If passed, it would help many Americans continue to live in their homes with proper support and could limit expensive care. There is no specific amount authorized for appropriations.

The bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate on July 8, 2015 by Senators Collins (R-ME). Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), and Mikulski (D-MD).  The bill currently has 11 co-sponsors and last week, on November 18, passed the HELP Committee by voice vote.

The House bill was introduced on July 16, 2015 by Reps. Harper (R-MS), Castor (D-FL), Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Black (R-TN) and was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.  This bill has 18 co-sponsors and no markup has been scheduled to date.

Lifespan Respite Reauthorization Act

This week, AUCD along with several CCD members, signed on to a letter in support for the Lifespan Respite Reauthorization bill (HR 3913). The Lifespan Respite Reauthorization Act was introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) on November 3. The bill would reauthorize the program through 2020 at an authorization level of $75 million over five years ($15 million each year). It authorizes competitive grants to eligible state agencies in collaboration with a public or private non-profit state respite coalition or organization to make quality respite available and accessible to family caregivers regardless of age or disability. The law allows grantees to identify, coordinate and build on federal, state and local respite resources and funding streams, and would help support, expand and streamline planned and emergency respite, provider recruitment and training, and caregiver training.


The Department of Labor released employment figures for October that reveal a sharp disparity between job growth among individuals with disabilities and overall job creation within the U.S. economy. While 271,000 new jobs were created last month, the unemployment rate among individuals with disabilities stood at 10.5%, a 0.1% increase from September's figure. The overall national employment rate currently remains at 5.0%.

The Department of Labor also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that unveiled new federal regulations for Equal Employment Opportunity in Apprenticeships intended to facilitate greater inclusion of minority groups (including individuals with disabilities) in formal apprenticeships. The new rule prohibits discrimination due to disability in the recruitment, selection, employment and training of apprentices and adds individuals with disabilities to demographic groups covered by apprenticeship affirmative action programs. The new proposed rule also recommends that 7% of apprentices should be individuals with disabilities, but such a figure would not be mandatory. The reforms mark the first significant changes to apprenticeship regulations in nearly forty years. Interested parties may post public comments concerning the new rules via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal until January 5, 2016.                   

WIOA Case Study

As states near the final stages of WIOA planning, many in the field are asking what final steps they can take to impact their state plans. The National Skills Coalition provided examples for other policy advocates and service providers. Under WIOA, states must develop plans that describe the state's overall workforce strategy and how it will be implemented. These plans are due to the federal government on March 3, 2016.


Precision Medicine Initiative

On November 9, the White House released the Privacy and Trust Principles for the President's Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), a comprehensive effort to achieve critical research breakthroughs and empower patients via collaboration between the NIH, a cluster of other federal entities and private health sector actors. The Privacy and Trust Principles that were issued this week derive from a draft released in July, six months after the creation of the PMI was announced by President Obama. Having consulted with academics and advocacy groups since then, White House policymakers have placed the final version of Principles into six broad categories that pertain to governance, transparency, respect for participant preferences, access to information, sharing data, and maintaining data quality respectively. More information about the Precision Medicine Initiative's Privacy and Trust Principles can be found here.

Affordable Care Act - Section 1557

November 9, 2015 AUCD along with several other members of the Coalition to Preserve Rehabilitation (CPR) provided comment on the proposed rule Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities to implement section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week Liz Weintraub AUCD's advocacy specialist and host of Tuesday With Liz: Disability Policy For All will talk to Chairman Tom Wheeler, who is the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) about the commission. Liz also conducted a special interview at last week's AUCD 2015 Annual Conference, where she spoke with DJ Patil, Chief Data Scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Also, in case you missed November 10th edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviewed Cathy Ficker Terrill, the president and CEO of the Council on Quality and Leadership about the HCBS rule. 


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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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