Disability Policy News In Brief

January 18, 2016

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January 18, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 55
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State of the Union

Last week on January 12, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress. In the speech he highlighted an array of accomplishments over the past year, including increased employment, education reform and a rise in high school graduation rates. He also praised Congress for its cooperation in securing a number of legislative achievements, including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan budget deal, and increases in NIH funding. The full text and video of the State of the Union address can be found here.  While there was no specific mention of people with disabilities, when the President highlighted citizen leaders near the end, the WhiteHouse.gov live presentation of the SOTU mentioned Lois Curtis, one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court Olmstead decision.

The President also announced plans to launch a new national effort to find cures to cancers, which will comprise new funding for NIH research as well as targeted incentives to engage private sectors. After the President's address, Vice President Biden announced that he will lead meetings to establish the cancer initiative beginning next month in addition to new fora with cancer researchers and advocates. It is expected that the President's anti-cancer effort will be included in his final budget request to Congress, which he is expected to submit during the first week in February.

Federally-Facilitated Marketplace

On January 17, the co-chairs of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Health Task Force, of which AUCD is a member, provided comments on the Draft 2017 Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces. The comments emphasize several points, including the need to enforce the strong nondiscrimination provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and concerns surrounding the time and distance standard for outpatient dialysis. The task force's comments also stressed a need for increased transparency and CMS plans that have up-to-date, accessible provider directories for consumers.

Disability Integration Act

AUCD is currently monitoring a bill, (S.2427) The Disability Integration Act (DIA) of 2015, which was recently introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The DIA is a civil rights bill intended to address long term services and supports (LTSS) and to reduce the institutional bias that still exists in Medicaid. The legislation, if enacted, would require states and insurance providers that pay for LTSS to change policies, provide community-based services as a primary option, and offer home and community based services (HCBS) to people currently in institutions. As of January 11, the bill has one co-sponsor, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and there is no House companion bill.


According to new data released by the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities fell by 1.8% during December, decreasing from 12.1% to 10.3%. The decline marks a significant change from monthly unemployment figures during autumn 2015, although the figures are not adjusted to exclude seasonal jobs.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week Liz Weintraub, AUCD's advocacy specialist and host of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, interviews Tia Nelis, Self-Advocacy Specialist at The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health (RRTCDD), University of Illinois at Chicago, about why self-advocates should be part of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) programs. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Maria Town, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, about the President's policy agenda for the coming year as outlined in the State of the Union address.

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

The CCD held its annual meeting last Thursday where it organized its task forces, elected its leadership, and talked about priorities for the coming year.  During the meeting, AUCD's Director of Public Policy Kim Musheno, was elected chair of the consortium; Lisa Ekman, NOSSCR, was elected Vice-Chair: Heather Ansley, PVA, Treasurer, and Andrew Sperling, NAMI, Secretary.  At Large Board members are Cindy Smith, NACDD; Anthony Stephens;  ACB, and Sarah Meek, Lutheran Services in America.  Task Force co-chairs reported on their accomplishments for the year as well as goals for the coming year. Task Force reports are posted on the CCD website.  CCD is a coalition of over 100 national disability organizations that work together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society.


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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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