Disability Policy News In Brief

April 11, 2016

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April 11, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 67
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2016 Disability Policy Seminar

The 2016 Disability Policy Seminar is taking place from April 11-13 in Washington D.C. UCEDD members and LEND trainees from across the country are attending alongside self-advocates, family members of individuals with disabilities and public policy staff to learn about how to engage in policy advocacy more effectively and connect with lawmakers. AUCD is co-hosting the Seminar in partnership with The Arc, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP).                                                                                  


NIH Funding

The Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on the future of the NIH on April 7. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins gave testimony at the hearing and was accompanied by the directors of the National Center for Advancing Translational Services (NCATS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute on Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Dr. Collins expressed concerns over current disagreements between Democrats and Republicans with regard to whether mandatory or discretionary spending should be used to fund the NIH.

Dr. Collins also stated that cuts to NIH funding for FY 2017 could undermine major medical achievements that he is confident will be reached in the next decade. These include the creation of an artificial pancreas, universal replacement of animals with stem cells in drug safety testing, development of stem cell therapies to counter cardiac failure, creation of vaccines for all forms of influenza and the Zika virus, and a mechanism that can be used to identify individuals at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease years before the condition begins to manifest itself.

Zika Virus

On April 6, Obama administration officials announced that they would reallocate $510 million from a fund meant to protect against Ebola to efforts to counter the Zika virus. The State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Management and Budget will also transfer $79 million from other accounts, including those used to fund the national strategic stockpile of vaccines. The repurposing of these funds to support the federal response to the Zika crisis comes three months after President Obama issued a request for $1.8 in emergency appropriations that is currently unfulfilled.

Health Care

21st Century Cures Act

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved five bills to promote medical innovation and research in an executive session held on April 6. The move completes the committee's action on its own version of the 21st Century Cures Act (HR 6), which was passed by the House last year. The act in question amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize the National Institutes of Health through FY 2018. It also establishes the Cures Innovation Fund and authorizes the development and implementation of a strategic plan for biomedical research.


On April 13, the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, the Department of Labor and AUCD will hold a briefing on Capitol Hill that will examine current challenges and opportunities that individuals with disabilities encounter in pursuit of competitive, inclusive employment. The briefing will cover the current state of federal disability employment policy following enactment of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and activities being performed at state and local levels. Speakers include prominent leaders of AUCD's UCEDD in Indiana, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia as well as the Chief of Staff of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

On April 8, former Congressmen and House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairmen Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Jim McCrery (R-LA) released recommendations to improve the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and other services for workers with disabilities.

The recommendations are the culmination of the McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative - a multi-year effort to identify practical policy changes that will improve SSDI and other services so that they better serve people with disabilities as well as those who pay into the program and the economy as a whole.

The recommendations headline a newly-released book - SSDI Solutions: Ideas to Strengthen the Social Security Disability Insurance Program - that features a diverse collection of twelve policy proposals written by different disability policy experts.


As a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, AUCD signed onto a statement issued by the CCD Education Taskforce that offers a set of recommendations with regard to indicators of school quality and student success. The recommendations' release comes as states begin preparing new accountability systems for the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The CCD Education Taskforce urges policymakers to engage with and consult stakeholders from the disability community, expand and strengthen accountability and data collection system and reject proposals that rely on whether a student has met IEP goals as an indicator of school quality and student success.

Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, announced that he will leave the administration on April 30, having been confirmed to his current position ten months ago. He had previously served as Acting Assistant Secretary from August 2012 to June 2015. Deputy Assistant Secretary Sue Swenson will become Acting Assistant Secretary upon his departure and will lead the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) thereon.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz talks with Logan Haworth, a fourth grader on the spectrum, about his interests and experiences. During last week's edition of TWL, Liz discussed the 2016 Disability Policy Seminar that is happening this week in Washington D.C. from April 11-13.

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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms 

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