Disability Policy News In Brief

May 22, 2017

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May 22, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 123
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The President's full FY 2018 budget (with more details than the "skinny" budget that was released in March) is expected to be released tomorrow, May 23.  From Hill news outlets receiving bits and pieces of the details ahead of time, it appears that the President's first budget will make very heavy cuts to domestic discretionary and safety-net programs to pay for tax cuts favoring the wealthy and for increased defense spending.

Per Congressional Quarterly, the budget will include $1.7 trillion in cuts to mandatory programs, including at least $800 billion in the American Health Care Act and another 800 billion to other mandatory programs, such as nutrition assistance, Social Security Income for children, Disability Insurance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF welfare benefits); $40 billion in the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit; and $20 billion more in other programs.  The plan is also expected to add work requirements for programs that do not already have them or making them more stringent. According to the Tax Policy Center, the President's tax plan could result in a loss of more than $5 trillion in revenues over the next ten years with 51% of the benefits accruing to the wealthiest 1%. See The Washington Post and the Star Tribune for more details.

AUCD will be reviewing the budget as soon as it is released for its treatment of AUCD network programs and other programs that support people with disabilities.  The President's budget is only the first step in the budget and appropriations process.  The next step is for Congress to write its own budget resolution taking the President's Budget into consideration.


National Institutes of Health funding

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Education held a hearing on National Institutes of Health (NIH) about advances in biomedical research.  NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins provided the lead testimony.  He was accompanied by five institute directors to answer specific questions.  The director of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) was not present. Dr. Collins' written testimony is posted on the committee website; however, the oral testimony included compelling personal stories of individuals and researchers impacted by the investment in NIH research.  Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) opened the hearing discussing his strong support of NIH funding mentioning the $2 billion increase provided in the final FY2017 bill.  During opening remarks, Ranking Minority Member Rosie DeLauro (D-CT) stated her strong disappointment in the $8 billion cut (24%) expected in the President's Budget and urged rather for an increase by that amount.  Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Minority member of the full Appropriations Committee spoke of the President's budget as a "dark cloud" that would be an "assault" on universities, leading to 90,000 employees losing jobs and the loss of $15 billion in economic activity.

The next hearing of the subcommittee will take place this Wednesday, May 24 on the Department of Education Budget. The sole witness will be the Honorable Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education.

Health Care

American Health Care Act

On May 22, the Ranking Members of four congressional committees sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma demanding an explanation of recent reports that she sought political support from insurance companies for the American Health Care Act, by offering a tradeoff deal to continue paying congressionally mandated cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. The letter, written by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-WA), House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), explains - "Your reported actions suggest you are using the operation of the American healthcare system as a tool to gain leverage in political negotiations," the Ranking Members wrote. "It is wholly inappropriate for you to use federally appropriated money intended to lower the cost of quality, affordable healthcare as a bargaining chip to garner political support for unpopular legislation being negotiated behind closed doors by the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans."

Prevention and Public Health Fund

On May 17, AUCD along with the Trust for America's Health sent a letter signed by 523 organizations to the Senate opposing repeal of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is Section 101 of AHCA. Please also see this issue brief on the impact of the AHCA on prevention and public health for more information.

Waive Community Rating

A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis estimates that 6.3 million people (i.e., 23 percent of 27.4 million adults with a gap in insurance coverage in 2015) could potentially face higher premiums under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), due to pre-existing health conditions. The bill, which passed the House earlier this month, allows states to waive community rating in the individual insurance market (currently this is used to set premiums so that risk is spread evenly across the community, with all individuals paying the same rate regardless of their health status, age, gender, and lifestyle characteristics). Insurers in states with such waivers could vary premiums by health status for an entire plan year for enrollees with a gap in insurance of 63 or more consecutive days in the past year. AUCD is concerned with this proposal as it would disproportionally effect people with disabilities as well as women and old adults. 

Financing Early Care and Education

On May 17, the Committee on Financing Early Care and Education with a Highly Qualified Workforce held a public session examining the resources needed to meet the true costs of high quality early care and education. The public session focused on how to fund early care and education for children from birth to kindergarten entry that is accessible, affordable to families, and of high quality, including a well-qualified and adequately supported workforce consistent with the vision outlined in the report Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through 8. For upcoming meetings and to subscribe for project updates visit the National Academies of Sciences Engineering, and Medicine website.

Lifespan Respite

On May 18, Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gregg Harper (R-MS), co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, introduced the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2017, which reauthorizes the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006 to support coordinated respite services for family caregivers. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Aging joined Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce a companion bill.


Career and technical education

On May 17, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), approved a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Glenn "GT" Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353) is largely identical to legislation passed in September 2016.  AUCD sent a letter to the Education and the Workforce Committee in support of moving forward with the mark up of Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. At the same time, AUCD states that the bill dies bit go far enough to increase access to career and technical education for students with disabilities. Within the letter, AUCD offers key principles to consider as the law moves forward to the House floor and onto the Senate. No further action has been scheduled at this time.


According to Politico, U.S. ED Secretary DeVos met with homeschooling families during a meeting with officials from the Home School Legal Defense Association. According to the report, they sought to convey to the secretary that homeschooling should not be included in any efforts to use public funds for vouchers because homeschoolers don't want the government regulation that could come with it. They also conveyed to the secretary that homeschoolers should continue to have their diplomas treated "fairly" so they have access to federal aid once they enter higher education - something that's previously been spelled out in department guidance.

Disability Integration Act

On May 16, Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Disability Integration Act of 2017 (H.R. 2472). The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Conyers (D-MI), Slaughter (D-NY), Norton (D-DC), Tonko (D-NY), Blunt-Rochester(D-DE), Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch (D-MD), and Lieu (D-CA). The Disability Integration Act strives to ensure that every individual eligible for long term services and support (LTSS) has the right to choose how they receive supports and assures that states and other funders provide services in ways that allow beneficiaries to live as independently as possible. Congressman Sensenbrenner stated: "The passage of the ADA was a significant step forward in the fight for equal rights for Americans with disabilities; but almost 27 years later, there are still problems that need to be solved. The Disability Integration Act identifies challenges that still exist and provides comprehensive and effective solutions that will help these individuals fully participate in daily life." AUCD supports the bill.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Michael Gamel-McCormick, Disability Policy Director for Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania, about the importance of Medicaid.  In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Leslie Kimmelman, who is a mother of a person on the Autism Spectrum; Julia, the new character on Sesame Street who has Autism, is based on the book that Leslie wrote about her son.  



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

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