Disability Policy News In Brief

March 13, 2017

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March 13, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 114
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The White House reports that the President's Budget outline will be transmitted to Congress this week.  The proposal is expected to increase military spending by $54 billion by cutting that same amount from domestic discretionary programs.  Watch In Brief for more news after the Budget is released.


Even before the Budget is officially released some details have been leaked, including how the budget impacts housing programs -- hard.   A recent Washington Post article reports that the budget will cut Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs by $6.6 billion (or 14%) cut compared to current funding. The cuts would include funding for public housing repairs by $1.3 billion or 68%; funding for Housing Choice Vouchers by $300 million (this is equal to 200,000 vouchers being lost); cuts for Native Americans housing-who have some of the worst housing needs in America-by a 25% or $150 million; elimination of the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, Choice Neighborhoods., and SHOP.  These cuts could result in about 12,000 homes for seniors and 6,000 homes for people with disabilities being lost. The National Low Income Housing Coalition will hold a webinar on March 20 at 4pm to discuss the impact of the proposed budget in more detail. Here's a link to register for the webinar.

Health Care

On March 6, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, the American Healthcare Act, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  If enacted, millions of people, including those with disabilities, will lose access to comprehensive and affordable health care.  In addition, the bill makes drastic cuts to Medicaid that will surely lead to people with disabilities losing access to Medicaid-funded home and community based services, including early interventions, personal care attendants, transportation, employment supports, and school-based services, like speech and language services.

Just before In Brief went to press, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with analysis that projected that the number of uninsured people would grow by 14 million in 2018 under the Republican ACA replacement bill, with that number rising to 24 million in a decade (see The Hill).

The bill has already passed two House Committees and Republican leaders hope to have the bill passed very quickly: on the floor next week, followed by a Senate vote the week of March 20, and signed into law by Spring break.  

AUCD has joined CCD colleagues in organizing a week-long social media and action plan in opposition to the bill.  See our Action Toolkit  to participate.  Join the Thunderclap, use the #SaveMedicaid, read CCD's press release, and see our talking points.  In addition, AUCD invites you to join a call on March 15 at 11 am ET with Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania to learn more about the bill's impact on Medicaid services. Contact [email protected] for more information.


The Washington Post reports that the Republican ACA repeal bill would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPH) in fiscal 2018, without a corresponding budget increase to compensate for the loss. The PPH provides almost $1 billion annually to the CDC, accounting for roughly 12 percent of the agency's total budget, and about 40 percent of the CDC's total immunization program funding.  Last year, more than $625 million was distributed to state and local health departments through the PPH. Former CDC director Tom Frieden weighed in, saying if the prevention funding is scrapped, "Americans will be at greater risk from vaccine-preventable disease, food-borne infections, and deadly infections contracted in hospitals." Over 500 public health organizations, children's advocacy groups, universities and local health departments sent a letter to President Trump last week warning of the consequences of eliminating the prevention fund. Losing this funding would "cripple CDC's ability to detect, prevent and respond to vaccine-preventable respiratory and related infectious diseases threats, including pandemic influenza," according to one report. 

"Healthy workforce"

On March 8 the Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), considered legislative proposals that claim to expand health care coverage, lower costs, and promote a healthy workforce - Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101), introduced by Representatives Johnson (R-TX) and Walberg (R-MI), Self-Insurance Protection Act (H.R. 1304), introduced by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), and Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (H.R. 1313), introduced by Chairwoman Foxx. The proposals also aim to "advance free-market, patient-centered health care solutions". See summary here.


ESSA Regulations

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to repeal important regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act that were issued by the Obama administration dealing with accountability, state plan, and data reporting. The House passed its bill eliminating the regulation several weeks earlier. President Trump plans to sign it into law soon. AUCD helped to craft a CCD letter and signed onto an LCCHR letter opposed to the resolution (S.J. Res. 25 and H.J. Res. 57) emphasizing that Congress should reject the effort to overturn these regulations under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and should preserve critical protections for marginalized students.

Today, the US Department of Education (ED) released at new state plan template in response to the resolution eliminating the regulations.  AUCD participated on a conference call with the department to be briefed on the new template.  According to officials on the call the new plan includes 'only what's necessary' by law and is intended to promote innovation, flexibility, accountability, and reduce burden. One of the biggest concerns that AUCD has is that the department appears to interpret the law in a way that does not require posting and public comment on state plan.  This means current state plans could change substantially and public will not be notified about these changes.  This means state advocates will have to be proactively involved in seeking to develop and review these plans. Plans are still due to ED on either April 3rd or September 18th and the State must now submit the plan to their Governor for review 30 days prior to submitting to ED.  In addition, states can continue to use the discontinued regulations as a roadmap in their planning efforts.

ESSA Toolkit

The National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood issued an ESSA toolkit to help parents understand the law's accountability provisions. The toolkit, which is available on the Understood website, is intended to provide parents with tools to become effective advocates when planning takes place at the state and local levels.

Supreme Court Nomination

AUCD signed onto a CCD letter urging Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein to oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The letter was drafted by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, which has also produced an in-depth report on Judge Gorsuch's judicial record pertaining to disability rights. His prior rulings reflect an extremely narrow view of the scope of fundamental disability rights laws, including the ADA and IDEA, and raise strong concerns that his decisions could severely weaken enforcement of civil rights laws and implementation of vital social service programs.  The final letter will be posted on the AUCD policy site.

Disability Policy Seminar

#DPS2017 is coming soon! (March 19-22) Fact sheets are now available, and will also be part of the materials you receive at the Seminar.  You can use them for talking points during your visits, and leave them with Members of Congress when you leave. A pre-conference Trainee Policy Summit specifically designed for AUCD LEND and UCEDD trainees will take place on March 19. Please register on AUCD's website. For more information about what to expect, please see this short video about the DPS.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Donna Meltzer (Executive Director of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities) about the process of implanting the President's budget. In case you missed last week's episode, Liz interviewed four Nutrition is for Everyone ambassadors - Sarah Keathley (Arkansas), Lauren Griffiths (Louisiana), Lee Wallace (Tennessee), and Megan Krampe (Oklahoma). These ambassadors speak about the projects in their states that focus on how eating and learning about healthy food is important for everyone, including people with disabilities



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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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