Disability Policy News In Brief

April 4, 2016

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April 04, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 66
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Budget & Appropriations

Senators are back from recess today and appropriators have a full week of committee hearings on the budget. The House returns April 12. In today's news, Congressional Quarterly reports that the Senate may take the lead in considering annual appropriations bills while the House Republicans work out internal differences over spending levels.  The first bill will be on the Military Construction-VA bill.

An analysis of the House Republican budget released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities last week has found that the House Committee approved budget plan would cut programs for low and moderate-income individuals by $3.7 trillion by 2026. The spending reductions include cuts of $2.9 trillion to health programs, $500 billion to higher education aid and entitlements, $150 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and $100 billion to low-income non-defense discretionary programs. Altogether, the House plan would cut spending on healthcare programs by 53 percent, other entitlement programs by 27 percent and non-defense discretionary programs by 16 percent. Overall cuts would come to 42 percent of the current total over the next decade.

Thirty-one bipartisan representatives signed onto a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee requesting the inclusion of $5 million for the Lifespan Respite Care Act in FY 2017, the same amount requested by President Obama's budget request. The Lifespan Respite Care Act provides crucial assistance to caregivers of individuals with disabilities of all ages.

Mental Health Reform Act of 2016

AUCD signed onto a letter in support of the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680), which would expand critical community mental health services, as well as services that are provided to students in schools. The bill does not dismantle the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or the Protection and Advocacy (P&A)'s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program, and retains patient privacy rights established through the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA).

Health Care/Opioid and Heroin Epidemic

On March 29 the President joined individuals in recovery, family members, medical professionals, law enforcement officials, and other leaders at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, GA. As part of event, the President announced additional public and private sector actions to address opioid and heroin addiction. The White House released a Fact Sheet that outlines the Administrative actions.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities for March was 10.8%. This marks a 1.7% decrease from the unemployment rate recorded for February, but is more than twice the overall unemployment rate, which stood at 5 percent.

Home Care Rule

On March 30, the Department of Labor issued Paying Minimum Wage and Overtime to Home Care Workers: A Guide for Consumers and their Families to the Fair Labor Standards Act, a document which explains rules that apply to hiring a home care worker, using a home care agency, and arranging care through a self-directed program. The guide also provides information about how and when one must follow Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules when securing home care.

Health and Climate Change

A new report on the health effects of climate change was released by the Obama administration today at a White House event attended by AUCD staff. The peer-reviewed public health assessment, a three-year undertaking by eight agencies, concludes that all Americans are vulnerable to the health risks of climate change, although those most affected are expected to live in minority-dominated communities with lower incomes. The full report is posted online.

Disability Policy Seminar

On March 29, AUCD and AAIDD jointly presented a webinar: Preparing for the Disability Policy Seminar, an orientation for attendees of the 2016 Disability Policy Seminar. In the webinar, AUCD Policy Director Kim Musheno explained how students, trainees and early career professionals can leverage their experiences during DPS to prepare for Hill visits and strengthen their position as advocates. See also  tips for scheduling Hill visits. In addition, Fact sheets are now online to help you prepare for the visits. To coordinate with other participants from your state, see the list of attendees.

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, speaks about the upcoming 2016 Disability Policy Seminar, which will be held in Washington D.C. from April 11 to April 13. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Steve Sabia about his experience as a Down syndrome self-advocate. 

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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