Disability Policy News In Brief

February 1, 2016

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February 1, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 57
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White House Cancer Task Force

The White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force convened for the first time earlier today. The Task Force, which was announced in President Obama's State of the Union address, will lead the National Cancer Moonshot, a $1 billion initiative intended to accelerate cancer research, detection and treatment through a combination of federal expenditure and partnership with the private sector. Vice President Biden is leading the Task Force, which consists of the heads of five cabinet department (Defense, Commerce, Energy, Veterans' Affairs and Health and Human Services) as well as the directors of the NIH, the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Economic Council, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The National Cancer Moonshot will start immediately through the use of $195 million in funding allocated to the NIH in Fiscal Year 2016. President Obama intends to secure a further $755 million when he submits his budget request for the Fiscal Year 2017 to Congress.

ACA/Health Care

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), far fewer people than originally projected will be enrolled under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2016. The CBO estimates that 13 million people will enroll under ACA this year as opposed to 20 million in 2015 - a decline of 35%. Although it expects smaller enrollment figures, the CBO also predicts that the number of people who receive subsidies will be higher than expected previously - rising from 8 million people in 2015 to 11 million in 2016. This increase is projected to raise the cost of subsidies alone to $18 billion this year, reaching a total of $56 billion before doubling that figure by 2025.


Last week, The Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID) held its seventh (of eight) meetings. The purpose of these meetings are to identify ways to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and other individuals with significant disabilities. All public testimony and presentations can be found here. During the meeting, subcommittee findings and conclusions were discussed; however, no recommendations were finalized. Recommendations should be finalized mid-May and a first draft of the Final Report should be circulated mid-July. 

Criminal Justice

On January 26, President Obama unveiled a set of executive actions that restrict the use of solitary confinement (and ban its use for offenders who are under the age of eighteen) in the federal prison system. The announcement, which was outlined in an op-ed in the Washington Post, follows the Justice Department's release of a report that offers new policy recommendations, as well as a Congressional audit which found that more than 50% of inmates in solitary confinement had mental illnesses at some point, underscoring the need for reforms.

In addition to prohibiting the placement of juvenile offenders in solitary confinement, the new executive actions:

      -Reduce the maximum period first-time offenders can be placed in solitary confinement from           365 days to 60 days

     -Ban the use of solitary confinement as housing for prisoners who face legitimate threats from          other inmates

      -Increase the amount of time that inmates in solitary confinement can spend outside of their             cells

      -Limit how long inmates can be kept in solitary confinement during the last 180 days

They also include a directive to remove inmates with serious mental illnesses from the general prison population and place them in "secure mental health units" where they can receive appropriate treatment from staff psychologists. President Obama plans to ask Congress for $24 million to fund these units when he submits his Fiscal Year 2017 budget request.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

Tuesday's with Liz: Disability Policy for All is back after the 2016 Blizzard! Liz Weintraub, AUCD's advocacy specialist, interviews Kruti Acharya (LEND Director at the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois) on the importance of including family members and self-advocates in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) programs. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Tia Nelis (Self-Advocacy Specialist at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health, University of Illinois) on why self-advocates should be part of the LEND programs.  

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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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