Disability Policy News In Brief

August 29, 2016

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August 29, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 87
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Congress is on its last week of recess; it will return on September 6.

Family Supports/Respite Care

AUCD issued an Action Alert calling upon network members to contact their Representatives and urge passage of the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (S. 1719/H.R. 3099). The RAISE Act would lay the foundation for Congress to approve the creation of a national strategy to support family caregivers, a step which the federal Commission on Long-Term Care have recommended that lawmakers take. It would also create an advisory body to make further recommendations regarding federal policy and support of family caregivers. AUCD previously signed onto a letter urging senior leaders of both parties in the House to take action on the bill when Congress returns from recess next week.

AUCD also participated on Hill visits to encourage more Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Lifespan Respite Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3913).  This bipartisan bill was introduced last November by the co-chairs of the House bipartisan caucus on disability issues, Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gregg Harper (R-MS).  The bill reauthorizes the program through 2020 and increases the authorization for appropriations to a level of $75 million over five years.  AUCD network members and friends are encouraged to educate Members of Congress about the importance of this program.  More co-sponsors are needed to move this bill forward.

Health/Medicaid Expansion

On August 25, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report which revealed that Marketplace premiums in states that have expanded Medicaid are, on average, lower by 7 percent than those in states that have not done so.


On August 26, the FDA released a revised guidance that recommends that all donated whole blood and blood components in the United States be tested for the Zika virus. Earlier guidance issued in February had recommended that all individuals who had been infected with Zika or visited areas where it has been transmitted actively should be deferred from donating blood. The FDA's altered recommendation comes in the wake of increased non-travel related cases of Zika in the U.S. and new uncertainty about the virus's transmission process.

The CDC has awarded $6.8 million to several national public health organizations to aid response to the Zika virus. The funds will be used to support many activities, including treatment, health education, mosquito control, outreach to pregnant women in tribal, local and territorial areas, and will be administered to awardees by the CDC Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support. For more information on the Zika virus, see last week's Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All.


AUCD signed onto an ITEM (Independence through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid) Coalition letter calling for Congress to pass H.R. 3229 and S. 2196, which would permanently exempt Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) wheelchairs and components for people with disabilities and chronic conditions from Medicare's Competitive Bidding pricing. This important legislation will protect Medicare beneficiary access to both power- and manual- complex rehab technology, as well as essential components known as wheelchair "accessories." The letter was sent to the Senate and House leadership and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways & Means Committee, and the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Altogether, 37 organizations signed the letter.

NIH Director

On August 25, NIH Director Francis Collins named Diana W. Bianchi, M.D. as the next director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Dr. Bianchi, a renowned prenatal geneticist, is currently the Executive Director of the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center and will take over as director of the NICHD on October 31.


The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force recently announced two new opportunities to increase affordable, accessible, integrated housing in the community for people with disabilities. The first is the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), a new federal housing program run by state housing agencies for the first time beginning in 2016. Congress authorized the NHTF primarily to address the critical shortage of rental housing units affordable to extremely low income households - those with incomes below 30 percent of the Area Median Income.  The second is the new set of regulations published by HUD that requires states, certain cities, and public housing authorities to meet their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing by development new assessment of fair housing plans.  See the full fact sheet on these two new opportunities on the CCD website.                                                               

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviewed AUCD's Director of Public Policy Kim Musheno, about the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and the ways in which it engages with lawmakers to support and encourage legislation that is in the interest of individuals with disabilities. Kim also serves as the Chair of CCD for 2016. In last week's edition, Liz talked to Melody Stevens from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the Zika virus.

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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