Disability Policy News In Brief

August 1, 2016

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
August 01, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 83
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are on recess; members will be in their home states until September 6.

Health Care


Last week, the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 5772) was introduced by Representatives Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Pat Meehan (R-PA), and by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Schumer (D-NY). The bipartisan BENES Act aims to modernize and simplify the Medicare Part B enrollment process, which has not been revisited in the 50 years since Medicare was created. While the bill has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, an independent analysis suggests the bill will cost $4 to $8 million per year in mandatory costs. This is a low-cost reform that protects people with Medicare from steep premium penalties, fills needless gaps in coverage, and expands avenues for relief among those who mistakenly delay or decline Part B. Over the August recess, the Medicare Rights Center (a member of the CCD Health Taskforce) is making a push for additional bipartisan co-sponsors and a strong statement of support from organizations.

ACE Kids Act

On July 7, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health conducted a hearing to address a revised discussion draft of H.R. 546, the Advancing Care for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE Kids Act). The ACE Kids Act is a proposal aimed at improving care coordination and quality of care for children with complex medical needs. If enacted, the bill would allow Medicaid programs to establish health homes for children with medically complex needs while also providing enhanced payments for implementation. The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), and has 214 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 38 in the Senate. At the hearing, health care professionals and parents shared their stories and provided testimony on the importance of passing the ACE Kids Act. Listen to a recording of the hearing here.


CCD Health, LTSS, and Technology & Telecommunications Task Forces, of which AUCD is a member, have sent a letter to the Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Finance Committees urging them to pass H.R. 3229 (a senate companion bill, S. 2196, has already been introduced) which would keep complex rehab manual and power wheelchair accessories out of Medicare's competitive bidding program. "Accessories" of individually configured wheelchairs are what make the chair usable and beneficial to an individual with significant disability (e.g., head support systems, specialized seat cushions, sip and puff interfaces or tilt-and-recline features). In late 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) announced that it planned to apply Competitive Bidding pricing to complex rehab accessories starting January 1, 2016. Due to consumer concerns regarding the negative impact of this, Congress enacted a one-year delay-prohibiting CMS from applying Competitive Bidding pricing to power wheelchair accessories through December 31, 2016. However, this temporary protection left out manual wheelchair accessories. Passage of H.R. 3229/S. 2196 would provide a permanent solution, clarifying that CMS cannot competitively bid complex rehab power or manual wheelchair accessories. It is essential that both power and manual are included so that consumers do not face discrimination or disparate treatment depending on which type of complex rehab chair they are in.

ABLE Event

Last week, AUCD with three other organizations, including the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, sponsored a bipartisan event in Philadelphia to celebrate the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act and to build on the work that has been done. Three authors of the ADA spoke at the event - former Senator Tom Harkin, former Representative Tony Coelho, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD). Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI-2nd), and Delaware Governor Jack Markell also spoke.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

During this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews two interns at the American Association for Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) - Frances Isbell and Jovan Ruvalcaba - as well as AUCD's intern, Caitlin Chasar, about their summer experiences and their disability policy interests. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) about the ABLE Act and the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


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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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