Disability Policy News In Brief

May 23, 2016

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May 23, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 73
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On May 18, the House passed a bill that provides $622 million to address the growing Zika crisis. The bill, offsets all funding with cuts to other government programs, and has been condemned by President Obama, who maintains the request for $1.9 billion in response funding that he made in February. The President has indicated that he will veto the House bill if Congress passes it. On May 17, the Senate also passed its own emergency response funding bill, which provides $1.1 billion in funding.

AUCD signed onto a letter from the Friends of NICHD urging members of Congress to ensure that any supplemental emergency funding bill includes appropriations that will allow the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to pursue research into pregnancy and Zika-related birth outcomes. Although it is evident that Zika causes microcephaly in newborn infants whose mothers have become infected with the virus, the full extent of its effects during pregnancy is unknown. Immediate, sustained support for biomedical, behavioral and social science research is essential.

AUCD also submitted a letter on behalf of its Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRC), urging members of the House to support the greatest possible level of Zika emergency supplemental funding. The letter also encourages members of the House to allocate funds to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which plays a critical in both the immediate and long-term response to the Zika virus.

Health Care

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to advance health equity and reduce health care disparities. Under the rule, individuals are protected from discrimination in health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability and sex, including discrimination based on pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping. In addition to implementing Section 1557s prohibition on sex discrimination, the final rule also enhances language assistance for people with limited English proficiency and helps to ensure effective communication for individuals with disabilities. The protections in the final rule and Section 1557 regarding individuals' rights and the responsibilities of many health insurers, hospitals, and health plans administered by or receiving federal funds from HHS build on existing federal civil rights laws to advance protections for underserved, underinsured, and often excluded populations. While the final rule does not resolve whether discrimination on the basis of an individual's sexual orientation status alone is a form of sex discrimination under Section 1557, the rule makes clear that the Office of Civil Rights will evaluate complaints that allege sex discrimination related to an individual's sexual orientation to determine if they involve the sorts of stereotyping that can be addressed under 1557. HHS supports prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination as a matter of policy and will continue to monitor legal developments on this issue. The final rule and factsheets can be found here.

LTSS Financing Reform

The Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Task Force, of which AUCD is a member, has finalized its recommendations  in response to several nonpartisan organization, including the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Long-Term Care Financing Collaborative, reports on future financing of America's long-term care needs. These reports examined concerns over the failure to develop a national plan to pay for healthcare and LTSS. The final recommendations offered by CCD express support for Medicaid improvements and the emerging consensus on the need for a public insurance program.


Last week, AUCD signed an agreement with the US Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to find ways to collaborate in our efforts to promote better employment outcomes for people with disabilities.  The agreement is for two years and does not involve any new funding going from ODEP to AUCD. Under the agreement, ODEP and AUCD agree to work together to carry out activities in some of the following areas:  share expertise and disseminate information on hiring, advancing, and retaining workers with disabilities; promote and disseminate information about ODEP resources to the AUCD network; share with ODEP staff and grantees information about AUCD's network of UCEDDs and LENDs and ways to collaborate with and tap the expertise of our network; build awareness of the Workforce Recruitment Program; develop and publicize resources; identify emerging issues to which the Alliance should direct particular attention and resources; provide technical assistance to employers and employees regarding evidence-based disability employment strategies, policies and effective practices; carry out any other activities (as mutually agreed upon) that promote the hiring, advancement, and retention of individuals with disabilities.


On May 18, the Senate HELP Committee held the third in a series of full committee hearings regarding implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Witnesses included teachers unions, superintendents, and national advocacy organizations representatives. Testimonies can be found here.

Child Nutrition

On May 18, The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), approved H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. Introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), the legislation reauthorizes and reforms federal child nutrition programs to ensure states and schools have the flexibility they need to provide children with access to healthy meals without additional or prohibitive costs. The bill passed the committee by a vote of 20 to 14. During committee debate of the bill, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) raised concerns that the reauthorization bill could weaken child nutrition programs and contains many harmful provisions that would make it more difficult for low-income schools to feed their students; his press release is available here.

Restraints and Seclusion

The FDA is extending the comment period for the proposed rule to ban electrical stimulation devices that are used to treat self-injurious or aggressive behavior, which first appeared in the Federal Register on April 25. Interested persons may now submit comments until July 25.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All                   

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Robyn Powell from the Disabled Parenting Project about people with disabilities who are parents. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Laura Fortman, Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor about work protections for individuals with disabilities.

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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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