Disability Policy News In Brief

January 16, 2017

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January 16, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 106
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Health Care: ACA Repeal

Late last Tuesday, the Senate passed a budget resolution on a vote of 51-48 that begins the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA); on Friday, the House passed the bill largely along partisan lines.  The next step is for four committees with jurisdiction over health care programs to make legislative changes to comply with the budget: Senate Finance and HELP; and House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce.  These are the committees that will be tasked with repealing and "replacing" the ACA. These committees must report back to the Budget Committee by January 27.

During the Senate debate, several Democrats introduced amendments to block legislation that would remove specific aspects of the law in an effort to put pressure on politically vulnerable Republicans for openly opposing important health care protections within the ACA. Notably, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced an amendment to prevent legislation that would limit or eliminate healthcare for someone with a preexisting condition, as well as legislation that would place a lifetime cap on coverage for someone with a disability or chronic condition. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced an amendment opposing the elimination of Medicaid expansion created through the Affordable Care Act. Senators voted on all such amendments largely along party lines, and all of them consequently failed. However, Republican Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted in favor of Senator Casey's amendment. Senator Heller also voted in favor of Menendez's amendment.

AUCD signed on to several coalition letters (see most recent) to Congressional leaders to urge that any legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act include a detailed replacement plan that provide equal or improved access to affordable, high-quality health insurance. Congress is set to repeal the ACA without such a replacement plan, an action that would have disastrous consequences for many Americans. AUCD also joined other advocates of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) to visit staff of key Members of Congress to discuss key provisions of the ACA that must be maintained or improved. AUCD sent several action alerts to the network on this issue.  Please share any information you may have obtained during these contacts with Kim Musheno at AUCD as well as any compelling personal health stories that we can share with staff of members of Congress.

Over the weekend, numerous rallies were held throughout the country in support of the health care law, which Republicans moved last week to repeal with a first legislative step.  The testimonies of ACA supporters seems to be working (seeNew York Times: Fear Spurs Support for Health Law as Republicans Work to Repeal It) . A widely circulated video showed Representative Mike Coffman, Republican of Colorado, eluding constituents who had wanted to meet with him to express their concerns on Saturday at a community event in Aurora, Colo. President-elect Donald Trump said in a weekend interview that he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama's signature health-care law with the goal of "insurance for everybody," but he didn't share specifics.

Education: Supreme Court

On January 11, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, a case that concerns the level of educational benefit that students with disabilities must receive in school. The case concerns an autistic student from Colorado whose IEP proposed new goals that closely resembled those set for him earlier on in his schooling. The student's family contend that their local school district failed to provide their son with educational opportunities that were substantially equal to those offered to other students and accordingly failed to meet the standards set by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The federal government has filed a brief supporting the family. The case could have major implications for the standard of educational resources and benefits that schools are expected to provide to students with disabilities, and may have an immense effect upon how IDEA and disability provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are interpreted and implemented. The Court will continue to hear oral arguments before reaching a decision. For more information, see The Washington Post coverage that includes a link to the text of the arguments and an opinion written by Michael Yudin, former Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education.

New Administration

Justice Department

The Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings this week to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the next Attorney General of the United States. AUCD signed onto a letter strongly opposing Sessions' nomination, expressing deep concern over his consistent record of opposing policies that protect the rights of people with disabilities. The letter was sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. AUCD's executive director Andy Imparato participated in several press calls regarding the disability community's concerns over Senator Sessions' nomination last week. 


The Senate House, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Representative Tom Price (R-GA) to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, January 18. Representative Price, who is currently the chair of the House Budget Committee, has been one of the foremost opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has led several efforts to repeal it over the past seven years.


The Senate hearing for Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, was delayed this week. The hearing will take place beginning today, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. ET.  CCD's Education Task Force, co-chaired by AUCD's policy director, Kim Musheno, wrote a letter to Congress outlining the qualifications expected of a U.S. Secretary of Education

Public Policy Committee

The policy committee will host a phone conference on Jan. 20 with updates on the new Administration and Congress.  To participate, contact Christine Grosso.

Disability Policy Seminar 2017

Registration is open for the 2017 Disability Policy Seminar, which will take place from March 20-22 in Washington D.C. The Disability Policy Seminar is a unique opportunity to learn about policy priorities in the new administration, exchange information with fellow disability advocates, and meet with Congressional staff. AUCD, the Arc, AAIDD, NACDD, SABE, and UCP will jointly lead events and help organize Hill visits for attendees.

AUCD for All Gala

On March 22, AUCD will hold its annual gala, AUCD for All: Celebrating Leadership in Employment, at the Carnegie Library in Washington D.C. The event will celebrate the research, training and advocacy that AUCD's network members and allies have done to develop and advance inclusive employment opportunities at all levels of society. The gala will also honor 21 and Able, an initiative through the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania that helps youth with disabilities build towards secure employment and independent living.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All
This week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Bethany Lilly from  Bazelon Center for Mental Health about the Affordable Care Act. In case you missed last week's episode, Liz interviewed David Morrissey, Executive Director for the United States International Council. They discussed the Harkin International Disability Employment Summit, which was held last month.

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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