Disability Policy News In Brief

July 24, 2017

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July 24, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 132
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Health Care

Republican Senate leaders aim to hold a procedural vote as early as Tuesday to take up legislation to repeal or replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but it remains unclear which version of the bill Majority Leader McConnell plans to bring to the floor for a vote.  McConnell could start with the House-passed American Health Care Act, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) or the full repeal bill (Obama Repeal Reconciliation Act).  If the "motion to proceed" passes, Senate rules require 20 hours of debate.  Amendments will be allowed.

The Senate Parliamentarian on Friday ruled that 12 key pieces of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) violate budget rules and must be removed or they will be subject to a 60-vote requirement, which would make them unlikely to survive a floor vote. The Parliamentarian has not yet made a ruling on Sen. Ted Cruz's amendment to allow insurers to sell plans that do not meet current health law regulations. Read the summary of the parliamentarian's decision on the Budget Committee website.  Regardless of the parliamentarian's ruling, our focus is on preventing the motion to proceed.

With Senator McCain (R-AZ) out on medical leave, it will be challenging to get the 50 votes needed to pass a bill. Republicans are reportedly using the $200 billion deficit "savings" in various forms to senators from states the expanded Medicaid under the ACA in an effort to win over moderates and pass a "revised Better Care Reconciliation Act". However, this new fund would do nothing to fix the major structural issues with this bill:

  • It would do nothing to offset the deep cuts to Medicaid from the per capita cap and the huge costs shift to states
  •  It would do nothing to address this bill's harm to people with private coverage, including increased costs for those who stay covered while millions of people are forced out of the market
  • It would do nothing to address the fact that millions of lower-income marketplace consumers in non-expansion states would see their deductibles jump by thousands of dollars

Members of the Consortium for Citizens with disabilities are coordinating with Move On to hold another vigil at the Capitol beginning this afternoon. AUCD's Liz Weintraub is on the agenda to provide remarks. ADAPT is camping out dear the Senate office buildings. NCIL is planning a march and rally in celebration of the July 26 anniversary of the ADA and will focus its message this week on Medicaid and the right to home and community based services.  On Saturday (July 29) Our Lives Are on the Line will hold events in DC and across the country. 

AUCD continues to urge Senators to set the BCRA and Medicaid cuts aside and focus on a bipartisan approach to strengthening our health and long term care system. AUCD joined 73 other CCD members is a letter in strong opposition to the BCRA, especially the Medicaid cuts.  Please feel free to use this letter for local letters to editors. AUCD members are encouraged to continue educating all Members of Congress about the devastating impact these bills would have on all Americans, but especially people with disabilities and families.  Making calls, visits, letters to the editors, and short personal stories are helping.

ADA Anniversary

In addition to the NCIL march and rally to celebrate the 27th anniversary of ADA mentioned above, Senator Casey (D-PA) is hosting a rally and a celebration on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court at noon on Wednesday. Senators Van Hollen (D-MD), Hassen (D-NH) and Duckworth (D-IL)  are scheduled to speak.  Shawn Aleong from Pennsylvania will also speaking about what the ADA means to him as a person with a disability.


The Senate Appropriations Committee released its funding allocations ((called 302(b)) with an increase of $3.04 billion for a total of $264 billion for programs within the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education (L-HHS-ED). The Senate Appropriations Committee's fiscal 2018 allocations are at odds with those in the House, and the current spending caps for both defense and nondefense discretionary.  The House plan would provide $621.5 billion for defense, a $70.5 billion increase over the Senate level, and would cut nondefense spending to $511 billion, falling $4.4 billion below the cap in current law and $7.5 billion below the Senate's level.


The House Appropriations Committee approved Wednesday a $156 billion Labor-HHS-Education spending bill for fiscal 2018. The bill was approved on a party line vote, 28-22. The largest nondefense spending bill, the measure has rarely reached a floor vote in recent years. This year's spending bill includes several contentious riders dealing with abortion and fetal tissue research. The bill is $5 billion below current enacted levels and about $21.6 billion more than the White House proposed in its fiscal 2018 budget. As was noted in AUCD's preliminary analysis of the bill emailed to the network last week, the House plan provides level-funding for most AUCD network programs, including the University Centers for Excellence in DD (UCEDD) and LEND programs.  The bill also provides level-funding for the Transition to Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID). An amendment by Rep. Price (D-NC) to restore a proposed cut to Projects of National Significance (PNS) failed, as was expected. 

Asset Development

For the month of August, the ABLE resource center is sponsoring a month-long campaign to highlight information and educate the public about ABLE accounts.  As of May, there are 21 states that have launched ABLE programs accounts opened and 48 states have passed legislation to create ones.   As there are 5 weeks in August, each week will focus on a different theme.  You can follow the campaign on Twitter via "#ABLEtoSave Month.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the ADA, in this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Mark Johnson, one of the leaders of ADAPT, about the history and the future of the ADA and the potential cuts to Medicaid.   In case you missed last week's edition, Liz interviewed Wanda Felty, family faculty at the Oklahoma's LEND, about why family support and LEND are so important and how they relate to Medicaid.

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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