Disability Policy News In Brief

October 31, 2016

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October 31, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 96
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Happy Halloween


FY 2017 Appropriations

Hill staff report that appropriators are hoping to finalize an FY17 omnibus bill by the December 9 deadline when the current CR expires.  AUCD helped draft a CCD Education Task Force letter to House and Senate lead appropriators with recommendations for conferees related to education programs in the L-HHS-ED funding bill.  AUCD also signed onto a letter from the Friends of HRSA requesting $7.48 billion for discretionary programs in the final omnibus bill.

Health Care

MACRA Final Rule

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new opportunities for clinicians to join Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) developed by the CMS Innovation Center to improve care and potentially earn an incentive payment under the Quality Payment Program created through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). The Quality Payment Program rewards clinicians with sufficient participation in Advanced APMs that align incentives for high-quality, patient-centered care. By giving more clinicians the opportunity to participate in these models, it will extend the benefits of high-quality, coordinated care to more Medicare beneficiaries.

Community Living

On Oct 26, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) released the final rule for Independent Living (IL) programs. This final rule clarifies the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and State Independent Living Councils (SILCs). The rule specifically provides guidance on the implementation of WIOA's addition of new "core services", clarifies key definitions, and addresses the roles and responsibilities of the State Independent Living Council. Announcement for the IL final rule can be found here, and key provisions of the IL final rule can be found here.



AUCD participated in a White House celebration for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) on Oct 27.  The entire event is archived on YouTube.  At the event, contributions of workers with disabilities and the value of a workforce that includes their skills and talents. Despite the increasing numbers of employed individual with disabilities, there are still far too many people with disabilities that do not have the opportunity to contribute in an integrated workplace. The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), found an employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities of just 28%, compared to 73% for people without disabilities. While this is nearly 6% above last year, we clearly have a long way to go. Fortunately, there are many promising practices (e.g., Employment First through Department of Labor that many states have embraced) as well as many other programs through Administration for Community Living and across Health and Human Services that are helping to increase competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Federal Employment

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in July 2010 calling for the federal government to "become a model" when it comes to employing people with disabilities. The order required executive departments and agencies to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of such workers. According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report, executive branch hiring of workers with disabilities increased 28 percent in fiscal year 2015. "This administration has consistently demonstrated a commitment to providing equal employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities" (OPMs acting director Beth Cobert).


In support of its efforts to develop strategies and practices to promote full workplace inclusion of people with disabilities, the LEAD Center held a national online dialogue, "Promoting Inclusive Career Pathways." Over 200 participants provided 40 ideas, 161 comments, and 233 votes on how to increase access to inclusive career pathways for people with disabilities, as well as insights on successes and experiences with career pathways initiatives. For more information please visit the LEAD website.


The CCD Education Task Force, of which AUCD is a member, sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to take immediate actions to investigate and correct any violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which have been reported by the Houston Chronicle's investigation Denied:  How Texas Keeps Tens of Thousands of Children Out of Special Education.


On October 27, Social Security Administration (SSA) opened the Fifth National Disability Forum "Exploring Opportunities to Advance the Disability Program through Telehealth and Telemedicine." This forum allowed stakeholders to provide input on ways telehealth and telemedicine might be able to better serve individuals with disabilities and improve the overall administration of SSA programs. Telehealth encompasses a variety of ways to use video and other technology to enhance healthcare and education delivery; telemedicine involves clinical services provided by interactive communication, most commonly a video, between a patient and a practitioner at different locations. Find more information here.

Health Plans Open Enrollment for 2017

As a reminder, Open Enrollment starts again tomorrow, November 1, 2016.  This is the first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2017 insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2017.  HealthCare.gov provides information on insurance plans.  Visitors can also use the site for information about Medicaid, tax credits, and cost-sharing reductions. A new report released last week shows that 72 percent of Marketplace consumers in states using HealthCare.gov will be able to find plans with a premium of less than $75 per month and 77 percent will be able to find plans with premiums below $100, taking into account financial assistance. The report also shows that consumers will have options, with an average of 30 health insurance plans to choose from.

Voting Rights

November 8 is Election Day! Several federal laws protect the voting rights of older Americans and people with disabilities and require accessible polling places. Here are some voting resources for older adults and people with disabilities: USA.gov offers information on how to vote, voter registration requirements and deadlines, and locating your state or local election office website; the U.S. Election Assistance Commission offers 10 Tips for Voters with Disabilities (PDF); the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division has more information about voting laws, enforcement actions, and how to file a complaint if you feel your voting rights have been violated; individuals living in long-term care facilities who have concerns about exercising their right to vote can contact their long-term care ombudsman program by looking them up at the National Ombudsman Resource Center; and some Area Agencies on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers may offer rides.

Several CCD organizations also created guides specific to people with disabilities: The Bazelon Center, NDRN, and Autistic Self Advocacy Network created a guide to voting rights for people with mental disabilities and a complementary YouTube guide; The Arc created a voter support website/mobile site; AAPD created REV UP to educate and engage voters. It includes a questionnaire the presidential candidates with answers from both the Democratic and Republican nominees; and Respectability created individualized state voter guides (there is a guide for all 50 states plus DC). If your candidate is missing, check out this linked Excel list for all of the candidates' contact information so you can call, email or tweet them encouraging them to complete the questionnaire and be included in an updated guide!

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All                   

During this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz, Liz interviews Shea Tanis, of the Coleman institute, about technology and the Declaration of Rights for Technology for people with disabilities. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Renee Tajudeen from the Office of Disability Employment and Policy. As see an interview, from September of this year, with Michelle Bishop of on voter rights.




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

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