Disability Policy News In Brief

November 28, 2016

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November 28, 2016   |   Vol. XV, Issue 100
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ESSA Regulation

Today the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding school accountability, data reporting, and state plans. The final version features a few key changes, like giving states and school districts more time to implement their plans and start identifying the lowest-performing schools for extra support. The regulations also maintain the focus on providing states with new flexibility to ensure that every child gets a high-quality and well-rounded education, while enhancing equity and preserving critical civil rights protections for all students (including students with disabilities) in the accountability system. AUCD is still reviewing the final regulation. A comprehensive fact sheet was developed by the Department of Education.  Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) already issued a statement cautiously supporting the final rule.  It is unclear how incoming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will oversee the accountability provisions in the state plans given her strong views favoring state flexibility and school choice.

Nomination for Secretary of Education

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Betsy DeVos to lead the Education Department. According to Politico, DeVos is best known for her longtime advocacy for and funding of efforts to promote school choice, charter schools and school voucher programs which comports to Trump's plans to authorize $20 billion on block grants to expand charter and private school options for low-income children.

Health Care

21st Century Cures Act

On November 30, the House will vote on the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 34), which provides funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as appropriations for new programs to curb the opioid abuse epidemic and promote mental health reform within government services and law enforcement agencies. The bill authorizes $4.8 billion to the NIH over the next ten years and also directs $1.4 billion for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), $1.8 billion for the National Cancer Moonshot, and $1.6 billion for research into the BRAIN Initiative. The legislation also includes $500 million for the FDA, to be used over nine years. The bill also enables the FDA to speed up the approval process for drugs used in regenerative medicine. This provision will allow pharmaceutical companies to have their new drugs tested, approved, and put on the market more quickly, but critics have raised concerns over whether such reforms would weaken the FDA's ability to review new drugs sufficiently. The 21st Century Cures Act also provides $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic, effectively meeting President Obama's budget request earlier this year. Additionally, the latest version of the bill contains new sections that address mental health care in government agencies and the judicial system. These include grants for state and local mental health services, structural reforms to the leadership of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), and grants to law enforcement that can be used to improve response to individuals with mental health issues. AUCD is still reviewing the final package including the mental health provisions as well as the offsets that may have been used to pay for it.

Complex Rehabilitation Technology Update

Last week, sources indicated that due to the high score of a permanent solution to keep Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) accessories out of Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program, we are likely going to get another one-year delay. The Hill seems to be leaning towards an extension of last year's delay-which only protected access to power CRT accessories (not manual). Some consumer groups ve been holding meetings with Committee staff and Committee members' offices, stressing the need to include both power and manual CRT accessories in the delay.


The Co-Chairs of the CCD Housing taskforce, of which AUCD is a member, submitted comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Multifamily Handbook, Chapter 2, Civil Rights Enforcement.  Specifically regarding pages 4 and 16, comments highlighted examples provided when an owner/agent fails to comply with fair housing and civil rights requirements being regarded as negative sanctions and prohibitions.  Whereas in certain situations, the appropriate "sanction" is a positive action.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All       

Can you believe its Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All 100th episodes?! To celebrate this milestone, Sara Luterman, communication assistant at AUCD, interviewed Liz Weintraub, advocacy specialist about her thoughts and dreams for Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All. In case you missed last week's episode, Liz provided 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.


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

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