Disability Policy News In Brief

March 7, 2016

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March 7, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 62
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Since the Congress passed a budget deal in October that provides overall spending caps, the House and Senate do not technically need to pass a budget resolution; however, some budget leaders are still discussing the possibility of passing a budget that includes cuts to entitlement programs.  AUCD is monitoring these negotiations closely and signed onto a broad Coalition for Health letter supporting the highest possible allocation (known as 302(b)) for programs within the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education. The letter garnered over 2,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, AUCD staff has begun meeting with Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to discuss the value of the federal investment in AUCD network member programs and other disability programs.  Connecticut Senators Blumenthal and Murphy sent a "Dear Colleague" letter on behalf of the DD Act network programs (DD Councils, P&As, and UCEDDs) supporting our funding requests.  An alert was emailed to the networks requesting members and allies to urge their Senators to sign onto the Murphy-Blumenthal letter.  Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about how to contact your Senators.

AUCD signed onto a letter in favor of an increase in discretionary funding to $7.48 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in FY 2017.  This amount is the same level as FY 2010 before sequestration cuts took effect. The letter was drafted by a group of 170 organizations collectively known as The Friends of HRSA and was submitted to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  

AUCD also signed onto a letter in support of a $5 million allocation to the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Control and Prevention Injury Center to Improve Concussion Surveillance. The funds would be used to create a national surveillance system to determine the incidence of sports-related concussions among youth. It would also provide the first-ever national estimates of TBI-related disability.

Finally, AUCD signed onto a letter developed by the "Friends of IES" (Institute of Education Sciences) supporting its funding request of $728 million for FY 2017 to support education research.  The request builds upon the administration's request of $693.8 million and restores the budget for two programs, the Regional Educational Laboratories (REL) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) to their FY 2010 funding levels.

Health Care

The Obama Administration approved Michigan's request to extend Medicaid coverage to approximately 15,000 more children and pregnant women in Flint, where the water supply has been contaminated with lead. Children and pregnant women who were exposed to Flint water in their homes, workplaces, schools or day care facilities will be eligible for free health care if their household incomes do not exceed 400 percent of the poverty level, or about $97,000 for a family of four. The federal government will pay 65 percent of the costs for pregnant women, and up to 99 percent for children; the state will cover the rest. In addition, about 30,000 current Medicaid beneficiaries in Flint will be eligible for expanded services under the five-year agreement.


The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced that it will require the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to cover applied behavior analysis for children with autism. The move effectively means that all federal health insurance plans for federal workers and retirees must include autism therapy for juvenile dependents from 2017 onwards. Following the change, the OPM sent a letter to FEHBP carriers instructing them to submit benefit and rate proposals for applied behavior analysis provision, and have until May 31 to do so. The OPM estimates that the benefit and rate negotiations for federal health plans will be finalized by August.

Criminal Justice

Sponsors of S. 2123, The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, will issue changes to the bill this week. If passed, the proposed legislation would be the largest overhaul of the federal criminal justice system in more than twenty years. S. 2123 lowers mandatory minimum sentences for several nonviolent drug offenses and creates programs to prepare prisoners for successful reentry into society and independent living. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of inmates in federal prisons have a disability and the bill's passage would provide incarcerated individuals with employment training, cognitive behavior therapy and life skills classes. The bill has broad bipartisan support but has been prevented from a floor vote due to disagreements among Senate Republicans over certain drug and firearms-related sentencing rules as well as other election-year politics. The Senate Republican leadership believes the soon-to-be-unveiled changes to the legislation will resolve these disputes and satisfy enough members of both parties to secure passage. The Judiciary Committee voted 15-5 to approve the bill in October; House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said he will allow time on the House floor to criminal-justice bills moving in that chamber.

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 Dr. Adriane Griffen, AUCD's Director of Public Health, about the Zika virus and its association with conditions such as microcephaly. In case you missed last's week edition, Liz interviewed

Andy Imparato, AUCD's Executive Director, about the current Supreme Court vacancy and the issues that are at stake as President Obama prepares to announce a nominee.

Disability Policy Seminar
Planning is underway for the annual Disability Policy Seminar that AUCD co-sponsors with The Arc, UCP, NACDD, SABE, and AAIDD.  The draft program and registration are now on the DPS website at http://www.thearc.org/dps.  Topics for this year's program include Community Integration, Employment, ABLE Act, and engaging voters in an election year.  As always, AUCD is hosting a seminar prior to the event tailored to AUCD trainees.  A webinar, sponsored by AUCD and AAIDD, is scheduled for March 29 to help participants prepare for the seminar.

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

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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