Disability Policy News In Brief

October 9, 2017

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October 9, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 143
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The House adopted its fiscal 2018 budget resolution last Thursday on a slim 219-206 vote. Later, on the same day, the Senate Budget Committee approved its version of the budget resolution on a 12-11 partisan vote. Passage of a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions will pave the way for the Trump Administration's tax plan unveiled recently. However, successful passage of the BR is uncertain given how different the two bills are and opposition coming from conservatives in the House and moderate Republicans in the Senate. 

The House budget calls for a deficit-neutral tax bill and at least $203 billion in mandatory spending reductions during the next decade. The Senate budget resolution would allow the Republican tax bill to increase deficits by $1.5 trillion during the next decade, and sends instructions to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources committees to reduce spending by $1 billion during the same time frame.

AUCD attended a press conference on the budget during which the Ranking Minority Member of the House Budget Committee, John Yarmuth (KY), stated: "This plan is a hoax on the American people and it will make most people's lives more difficult, so forgive me if I am in no mood to say thank you for the extra money in my pocket. With this budget, Republicans are not just passing the buck, they are pocketing it." Over the weekend, Senate Budget Committee member Bob Corker (R-TN) also complained that the BR, as written, could lead to increased federal debt and deficits.

Until a final joint budget resolution is adopted, congressional Republicans cannot officially begin to advance their tax bill. The Senate is on recess this week.  They plan to take up the BR on the floor when they return.  AUCD has urged its members to educate Members of Congress about the possible negative impact the budget and tax proposals could have on people with disabilities if they lead to cuts to programs that support people in the community. For more information, see the Center on Budget's recent analysis of the budget and tax proposals being considered.

Health Care


On October 4, the Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up separate bills to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (See fact sheet comparing key provisions). The House bill (HR 3921) would extend funding for five years. Like the Senate bill (S 1827), it would continue a 23% higher matching rate for states established under the ACA. The extra money would phase down to an 11.5% before falling to traditional levels.  Unfortunately, the House Committee markup was contentious with partisan arguments over offsets. The Senate bill is bipartisan and does not indicate how it will offset spending. Senators Hatch (R-UT) and Wyden (OR) are working on a bipartisan solution but could not say when the bill would move to the Senate floor.

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act

The Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017 (EHDI), has passed in both the Senate and the House, and is now on its way to the President to be signed into law. The bill reauthorizes newborn hearing screening programs for five years. Before EHDI went into effect in 2000, only 40% of children were being screened for hearing loss at birth. Today, more than 97% of children are screened for hearing loss. The latest bill also made improvements to the program, which now includes "young children" up to age three, and improved access to follow-up testing and intervention services when a hearing loss is diagnosed. 

Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program (REACH)

AUCD has signed onto a letter with the Health Equity & Accountability Act Community workgroup, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Public Health Institute, and a number of other organizations urging leadership in the Committee on Appropriations to maintain the same level of funding for the CDC's Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program in the FY18 Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations bill. The REACH program is proposed to be eliminated in the FY18 President's budget. The House and Senate funding bills also provide no funding for REACH, which serves as the nation's only community-based, culturally relevant, and multi-disciplinary program dedicated to the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities. AUCD will continue to monitor the L-HHS-ED funding bills for this program.

Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification

On Oct. 4, the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (HR 2575) was introduced in the Senate (S. 1909) with bipartisan support by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Todd Young (R-IN). The Senate bill is identical to the House.  It requires that a clear and detailed notice explaining Part B enrollment rules is mailed to all individuals aging into Medicare and those nearing eligibility because they receive Social Security disability benefits, aligning this notice with existing Social Security notices, where possible. The BENES Act offers solutions to modernize and simplify Part B enrollment.


The Senate confirmed Eric Hargan on Wednesday as the next Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services by a vote of 57-38. Hargan served under President George W. Bush in several positions at HHS, including deputy general counsel, chief of staff to the deputy secretary, and as acting deputy secretary. The White House has not yet commented on whether Hargan, as the Department's "number 2," could take on the role of acting secretary from Don Wright.

Public Policy Committee

If you are a member of AUCD and would like to participate in tomorrow's Public Policy Committee meeting at 4pm EST, please contact Christine Grosso directly for call-in information.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Liz King (Senior Policy Analyst and Director of Education policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights). They discussed race and disability. In case you missed last week, AUCD celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and Liz interviewed Richard Davis (Policy Advisor at the U.S. Dept. of Labor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)) about the Employment First efforts in states.


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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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