Disability Policy News In Brief

November 21, 2016

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November 21, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 99
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Last week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) said the committee will begin working immediately on a continuing resolution (P.L. 114-223) that would extend through March 31. The current CR expires December 9. He said the decision was made by House and Senate leadership. Rogers said in a statement "We must continue to keep our federal agencies and programs open for business, while looking towards future progress on these vital Appropriations bills."  The NDD coalition, of which AUCD is a member, sent a letter urging Congress to finalize FY 2017 appropriations before adjourning the 114th Congress.

Health Care

21st Century Cures Act

According to lead sponsor Rep. Fred Upton, House lawmakers are hoping to reach a consensus on a package of biomedical innovation bills (known as 21st Century Cures Act - HR 6) that would also include legislation that would help overhaul the U.S. mental health care system. Before a draft is released, it will need to be sent to the Congressional Budget Office for review, and later released to the public following the Thanksgiving break. At the heart of the discussions was how to pay for mandatory funding for the National Institutes of Health and President Obama's cancer moonshot initiative. While no funding numbers have been officially finalized, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce committee's health panel, explained that lawmakers were considering $4 billion for NIH and $1 billion for the moonshot. The package will likely rely entirely on drawing from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an offset used in the initial bill that passed the House last year, and a fund included in the 2010 health care overhaul intended to promote disease prevention and public health.

Mental Health - Loan Repayment Program

On November 16, 47 medical, surgical, and patient organizations sent a letter to the House and Senate committee leadership supporting Section 722 of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), which reauthorizes the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program (PSLRP). The letter recommends language to be included in any final mental health conference package.

ACA Repeal

While several Republican leaders have stated their desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) early in the new Congress, Senate HELP Chairman Alexander (R-TN) recently stated that it could take several years for Congress to complete a bill that would "replace" the ACA (see Talking Points Memo for more.)  He agreed with President-elect Trump on the goal of keeping the pre-existing exclusion provisioning other popular provisions and that the bill would require at least 60 votes in the senate.

Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2016 

On November 17, the Senate unanimously passed the Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2016, which assists disabled veterans in purchasing automobiles and adaptive equipment that accommodates their disabilities. The bill also authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire audiologists, ENTs, hearing aid specialists, and other stakeholder and industry groups to bolster resources for veterans with hearing-related disabilities. It would further require the VA to prepare an annual report documenting veterans' access to hearing health services sponsored by the department. The bill was introduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and its passage follows approval of peer legislation (H.R. 3471) in the House, which was introduced by Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN). The President is expected to sign the bill into law.


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent a letter to President-elect Trump urging him to reconsider his appointment of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House. The LCCHR expressed deep concerns about many of Bannon's publicly stated views regarding women, the LGBT community and multiple religious groups, as well as the political interests of Breitbart, the media company of which Bannon is executive chairman. 32 organizations joined the LCCHR in signing the letter.


On November 17, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division issued Administrator's Interpretation (No. 2016-2) which provides guidance regarding the impact of state laws that prohibit the payment of subminimum wages to workers with disabilities on the enforcement of section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers paying subminimum wages to workers with disabilities under a section 14(c) certificate must pay these employees in accordance with both Federal and state laws. The issuance of a certificate under the provisions of section 14(c) of the FLSA does not excuse noncompliance with any state law establishing higher minimum wage requirements.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz gives a preview of the upcoming AUCD Conference, which will take place from December 4-7. Liz highlights important sessions and opportunities to learn more about disability policy at the conference. In last week's episode, Liz provided her thoughts on the presidential election outcome amid the transition to a new administration. 

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

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