Disability Policy News In Brief

June 12, 2017

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June 12, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 126
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It's a busy week for budget and appropriations with hearings scheduled every day this week.  Only one of 12 annual appropriations bills is scheduled to be marked up (for Veterans Affairs) this week.  The Budget Committee has not yet developed a Budget Resolution that is needed to provide appropriations committee a top-line number to start writing annual funding bills. Fiscal Year 2018 begins on October 1, 2017.


As many of you may know, the President's budget proposes NO funding to continue the LEND program, along with all other HRSA CARES Act programs.  AUCD sent an action alert was sent to the network with talking points to help educate Members of Congress about the impact of these programs.  Rep. Smith (R-NJ), the lead sponsor of the CARES Act and Autism Caucus co-chair sent a letter urging appropriators to fully fund LEND and UCEDD programs. For more information, contact Kim Musheno.

New Appointments

Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities

Today, Melissa Ortiz was appointed by the President to serve as Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities (AoD) under the Administration for Community Living. It is the role of the AoD Commissioner to serve as a focal point in HHS to support and encourage the provision of quality services and supports and implementation of programs and policies that benefit people with disabilities and their families. Ms. Ortiz received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and broadcast communications in 1989 and is the founder of Able Americans.

Director of the NIH National Cancer Institute

President Trump intends to select Norman E. "Ned" Sharpless, M.D., as the new director of the NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI).  Dr. Sharpless' current roles at the University of North Carolina include serving as director of the Lineberger (NCI-designated) Comprehensive Cancer Center and as the Welcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research.  See more from the NIH Director Collin's announcement.

Health Care

The next two weeks are critical to prevent the Senate from passing the AHCA, a bill that includes per capita caps and/or block grants. The current bill radically restructures and cuts Medicaid (see Per Capita Caps below).  AUCD has recently learned that pieces of the Senate bill have gone to CBO for cost analyses and that the bill could be introduced as early as the week of June 26, and that an "amendment" process will be used that will allow the Senate to "substitute" the House version for the Senate version; this would result in an immediate vote on the bill without time for analysis.

Today AUCD, along with the CCD Grassroots team, held a call with state-level grassroots leaders to provide an update on AHCA in the Senate and the best ways to take educate policymakers about the importance of Medicaid. AUCD will be holding weekly call with network members to keep interested members informed. For more information, please contact Christine Grosso.

How Per Capita Caps Impact States

A new issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation examines the factors that could affect states' ability to cope with reductions in federal Medicaid funding of the sort proposed in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill would eliminate enhanced federal matching funds for the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion and convert Medicaid to a per capita cap or block grant system of financing. The analysis finds that all states could face challenges in responding to federal Medicaid cuts and caps to varying degrees, but more than 6 in 10 states rank in the top five for more than one factor. Eleven states rank highest (in the top five) in five or more of these risk categories: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.


On Tuesday the House takes up a bill (HR 2581) on verifying recipients of tax credits or subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and on Wednesday the House votes on a bill (HR 2372) on IRS regulations for veterans tax credits in ACA. Also, later in the week the House is expected to vote on two more measures (HR 1215, HR 2579) on taxes within ACA.



The RISE Act was reintroduced last week in Congress (S 1295, HR 2782). The RISE Act amends the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) to ensure that students with disabilities thrive in college. It focuses on three critical issues 1) Information - provides parents and students with information on disability services in one place, making it easier to know what services are available in higher education and how to access them, 2) Accommodations - requires colleges to accept an IEP or 504 plan as evidence of disability when a student is seeking accommodations in college, and 3) Training - supports a technical assistance center for college faculty to learn more about the needs of students with disabilities. AUCD supports the bill.  The National Center for Learning Disabilities NCLD has provided a summary and action alert on its website for more information.

State Implementation Strategies for ESSA

On June 15, AUCD's Public Policy Committee is sponsoring a webinar on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  Disability advocates Candace Cortiella and Ricki Sabia have been invited to provide an overview of key ESSA provisions important to ensuring equity for students with disabilities, share issues identified in their analyses of Consolidated State Plans to date and offer tips on how AUCD network members can be more involved in state plan development. Register on AUCD's events page. See also the Advocacy Institute State Plan Review Guide.

Home and Community Based Services

Final Approval

On June 2, CMS granted Arkansas final approval of their Stateside Transition Plan (STP) (the second state after Tennessee).  Final approval was granted because the state conducted a comprehensive site-specific assessment and validation of all settings, outlined a detailed plan for identifying settings that are presumed to have institutional characteristics including qualities that isolate, developed a process for communicating with beneficiaries who are living in a setting that the state has determined cannot or will not come into compliance, and established ongoing monitoring and quality assurance processes that will ensure all settings providing HCBS continue to remain fully compliant with the rule in the future. CMS also outlined key areas for quarterly reports and explained that this letter does not convey approval of any settings submitted to CMS for heightened scrutiny review, but does convey approval of the state's process for addressing that issue. Approval for all state STP's is still 2019; the new compliance deadline is 2022.

Initial Approvals

On June 2, Minnesota and South Dakota received initial approval of their Statewide Transition Plan. These letters are the communication CMS sends to the state notifying the state that public comment, input and summary requirements are met, the STP is sufficient, but systemic and/or site-specific assessments are not yet completed.

Public Policy Committee

AUCD's Public Policy Committee meets tomorrow at 4pm EST. If you are a member of the AUCD network, please email Christine Grosso for information on how to join the call.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In today's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Christine Liao, program specialist at the AUCD about the deaf culture and working. In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed John Tschida, Associate Executive Director for Research and Policy, about Managed Care and its importance.


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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