Disability Policy News In Brief

November 13, 2017

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November 13, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 148
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Tax Bill

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved its tax overhaul bill (HR 1) on a party-line 24-16 vote. The House Rules Committee will mark-up the bill on Wednesday. This mark-up provides the last opportunity to make changes to the bill.  House leaders have made clear that they do not want floor amendments. Following this, the full House vote could take place later this week. 

The Senate Finance Committee will start marking up its version of the tax bill this week. The Senate bill plans to delay cutting the corporate tax rate (from 35 percent to 20 percent) until 2019, whereas the House wants to cut the tax immediately. The Senate is taking this approach because they want to limit the revenue impact in order to allow the bill to pass with just 51 votes and avoid a possible Democratic filibuster. Neither the Senate nor the House tax bill includes a repeal of the ACA individual coverage mandate, which requires Americans to have health insurance. However, Politico reported that "Senate Republicans are still considering a repeal to help cover the cost of making some tax cuts permanent". The Senate bill will also retain a key deduction for qualified medical expenses that was excluded from the House version.

Senate Finance Committee aides said the panel was still working to make its bill compliant with the chamber's budget rules, which do not allow the tax bill to add to deficits outside the 10-year budget window.

The bill has not been officially scored, though the Joint Committee on Taxation has reportedly scored it as costing $1.495.7 trillion. Given that amount, many argue that the bill will raise the deficit after 10 years and in a new analysis by Penn Wharton, economists estimate that the bill's effects on the economy and the interest burden from higher debt levels would in fact add roughly $3 trillion to the debt between 2018 and 2037.

Read the House summary here, and the Senate summary here. Vox.com also has a summary of the Senate proposal here

Special Committee on Aging

On November 9, Senator Bob Casey (Ranking Member of Special Committee on Aging) released a fact sheet on the implications of the tax bill for older Americans and people with disabilities. The fact sheet explains that the bill eliminates a tax deduction on medical expenses vital to Americans with high health care costs, eliminates an incentive for businesses to hire people with disabilities, threatens research, could stifle investments in new facilities and homes, and more.


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) issued two reports on the negative implications of the proposed tax bill - one on the impact to children and low-income families and another on the issue of repealing the individual mandate, which could lead to increased premiums and loss of coverage.

The first report indicates that the House tax bill limits low-income families' access to the proposed Child Tax Credit (CTC) increase and estimates that 10 million children in low-income working families would be entirely excluded from the CTC increase. The second report explains that if the individual mandate is repealed approximately 7 million people would see an increase in premiums. This would lead to large enrollment declines that could make it harder for insurers to forecast risk pools and set premiums appropriately, which results in the marketplace becoming unstable.

CBPP further reported that the tax plan raises the maximum Child Tax Credit (CTC) from $1,000 to $1,650 per child and expands the credit to those with an income up to $1 million. Despite the CTC increase, millions of children whose parents work for low wages would receive a severely limited increase or none at all. For example, a single mother with two children who works full time at the minimum wage and earns just $14,500 would receive a child credit increase of only $75, whereas a family of four with a $1 million income would get $3,300.

Health Care

Medicaid reforms

On November 7, during a session at the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) Conference, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma discussed her vision for the future of Medicaid and unveiled new CMS policies that "encourage states to propose innovative Medicaid reforms, reduce federal regulatory burdens, increase efficiency, and promote transparency and accountability". Following this announcement, CMS updated Medicaid.gov to give states a clearer indication of how their reform strategies might align with a core objective of the Medicaid program. Please visit the new updated Medicaid 1115 Demonstration Project page here. You can also view the Section 1115 Demonstration Process Improvements Informational Bulletin here and the State Plan Amendment and 1915 Waiver Informational Bulletin here.

 Kevin and Avonte's Law

On November 6, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) reintroduced Kevin and Avonte's law, which aims to protect wandering children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Alzheimer's patients. This bill (H.R. 4221) would fund programs and technology that prevent the wandering of those with Alzheimer's and Autism. Rep. Smith first introduced it during the 114th Congress, when it passed the House with broad bipartisan support, receiving over 340 votes. The bill was not acted upon in the Senate.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) grants

AUCD is responding to a CMMI request for comments on potential grant opportunities related to the development of new health service delivery models. Please let us know if you are responding to this opportunity, or have thoughts we should incorporate in our feedback. Please direct comments to John Tschida.


Assessment under ESSA

The co-chairs of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force submitted a letter to the US Department of Education (ED) regarding the process to review state requests for waivers on the 1 percent assessment cap under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The letter encourages ED to review with scrutiny: the justification(s) provided by states to exceed the 1.0 percent cap; the impact on students with disabilities, especially as it relates to their access to the general curriculum in the regular classroom; and plans states will undertake to come into compliance with the law's requirements.

Statutory Requirements

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force, of which AUCD is a member, sent a letter to Secretary DeVos regarding the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) request to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) formally requesting a waiver of two statutory requirements of Title I, Part A of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The CCD letter asked that ED deny the NYSED request and advise NYSED to adhere to the statutory and regulatory provisions of ESSA regarding the assessment of students with disabilities.



On November 15, the Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Labor". Witnesses include Alexander Acosta, secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.


On November 15, the Senate HELP Committee will hold nomination hearings for a number of Department of Education positions.

HHS Secretary

On November 13, the President announced the nomination of Alex Azar to fill the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary role. Azar needs 51 votes to win Senate confirmation. Azar left the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in January after working there for nearly a decade, most recently serving as the President of Lilly USA. Prior to this, he worked at HHS during the Bush administration, where he served as the department's general counsel from 2001 to 2005 and later assumed the role of Deputy Secretary for two years. Azar is also an advocate for repealing the ACA and increasing state "flexibility".

Civil Rights

ADA Notification

On November 3, George Mason Law and Economics Center held a congressional briefing with the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Notification Act. Karen Harned (Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center) and Andy Levy (Partner at Brown, Goldstein, & Levy) spoke about the remarkable degree of noncompliance with the ADA, and the lack of understanding on how comply, despite the law being passed over 25 years ago and the amount of technical assistance available. Levy stated, "ignorance of the law should not be an excuse to not comply - ignorance of any civil rights law should never be an excuse."

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All Liz interviews Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, about leadership and people with disabilities. Stay tuned for more episodes next week.




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

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