Disability Policy News In Brief

April 24, 2017

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April 24, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 119
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Congress is back from recess this week.  With only four days left before the deadline of the current continuing resolution, it must either pass another CR or pass the remaining 11 annual bills to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. House and Senate appropriations staff recently told AUCD staff that they are close to agreement on an omnibus package to finalize funding for FY 2017. However, White House OMB Director, Mick Mulvaney, last week told reporters that a fiscal 2017 spending bill must provide money for President Trump's southern border wall, along with additional funding to hire more immigration agents.  Mulvaney said the White House communicated to negotiators last Wednesday that funding for the border wall is a top demand, along with a $30 billion increase in military funding, and greater latitude for the administration to deny certain federal grants to "sanctuary cities." It is unclear now whether the White House will stick with these demands in the face of strong Democratic opposition to these additions.  AUCD urges the Congress to pass a bipartisan omnibus bill and avoid any disruptions in government program funding.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's programs

AUCD signed onto a CDC Coalition letter urging appropriations leaders to provide at least $7.8 billion for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention's programs in the FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The letter states disappointment that President Trump's initial budget proposal recommends a $15.1 billion or nearly 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Service's budget for FY 2018. While the president's budget blueprint does not provide specific funding levels for CDC, given the size of the proposed cut to HHS, it is clear that funding for every HHS agency and program would be at risk under his proposal. The letter goes on to state why Congress should prioritize funding for all of the activities and programs supported by CDC. The letter also points out that 12 percent of CDC's budget has been backfilled by the Prevention and Public Trust Fund which has been under threat of elimination if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.  Congress must ensure that CDC's budget remains fully funded in the face of these threats. Read the full letter on the AUCD website under Budget and Appropriations.

Health Care

Steve Gleason Act

AUCD signed on to a letter drafted by the Center for Medicare Advocacy on behalf of older adults and people with disabilities urging Congress to support the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act of 2017, which extends the Steve Gleason Act of 2015 (from the 114th Congress - S 984 introduced by Senator Vitter R-LA and HR 1919 introduced by Representative McMorris Rodgers R-WA) by removing the current sunset date of October 1, 2018. The Steve Gleason Act protects patients with ALS, MS, Parkinson's disease, paralysis and other conditions, by assuring that Medicare coverage for speech generating devices (SGD) and related accessories that are uniquely configured for each user will continue to be available even when an SGD user resides for more than a brief period in a nursing home, hospice or hospital. Look for the finalized letter in next week's edition of In Brief.

Children's Health Insurance Program

AUCD joined First Focus and other leading national, state, tribal, and local stakeholders in a sign-on letter to congressional leaders urging Congress to act quickly to enact a long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP, which is available to 8.9 million children and hundreds of thousands of pregnant women, is due to expire on September 30 of this year. CHIP has been an essential source of children's coverage, ensuring access to high-quality, affordable, pediatric-appropriate health care for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance on their own. Congress last extended CHIP as part of the Medicaid and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA); a long-term extension would not only avert a coverage crisis for children, families and states, it would also provide an opportunity for Members and Senators on both sides of the aisle to work together toward the collective goal of protecting children's coverage.


On April 26, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-TN) votes on the nomination of Scott Gottlieb to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The panel will also consider three bills: S 652 Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act; S 849 A bill to support programs for mosquito-borne and other vector-borne disease surveillance and control;  and HR 309 National Clinical Care Commission Act.

New Appointments

Dr. Brett Giroir, a scientific advisory board member at the Cancer Moonshot Program, has been tapped to become Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, former chief medical officer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has been nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use at HHS. Heather MacDougall has been chosen to remain as a member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, where she has served since 2014. The administration also announced the dismissal of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who will remain as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, while current Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams will serve as the acting Surgeon General until a permanent replacement is named.

Social Security

On April 26, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention, and Detection". As stated in the Committee's announcement, the hearing will examine "the agency's ability to identify and manage fraud risk, and the status of the Social Security Administration's antifraud initiatives." Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.


On April 26, the Senate Special Committee on Aging is hosting a hearing entitled "Aging Without Community: The Consequences of Isolation and Loneliness."  The hearing will feature a witness, Mr. Rick Creech, who will be testifying to the role and importance of Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and how it relates to social isolation.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Maggie Winston, who is a LEND trainee from Alaska and a DREAM fund recipient about her experience in DC when she came for Disability Policy Seminar. In case you missed it last week, Liz interviewed Evan Nodvin about why Medicaid is important in his life.



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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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