Disability Policy News In Brief

December 18, 2017

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday
December 18, 2017   |   Vol. XV, Issue 153
AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, FacebookAUCD, Disability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, TwitterDisability Policy News InBrief, every Monday, SharespaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, YouTube list Tuesday Morning with LizspaceAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, Subscription formAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, ArchiveAUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, RSS

In observance of the upcoming holidays, the next edition of In Brief will be published January 8, 2018. AUCD wishes everyone a Happy Holiday and New Year! 

Tax Bill

Joint Bill

Over the weekend, Senate and House conferees finalized the tax bill (see final bill here and Ways & Means Committee summary here). It was also announced that the House will vote tomorrow (December 19) and the Senate is expected to vote on final passage Wednesday (December 20). Please continue to call your Members of Congress to educate them on the devastating impact this bill will have on people with disabilities and the supports and services they rely upon to live in the community.

  • Please see key disability provisions of the bill posted here:
    • Individual Mandate under ACA - repealed: "Elimination of Shared Responsibility Payment for Individuals Failing to Maintain Minimal Essential Coverage. The conference agreement follows the Senate amendment." (p. 153)
    • Disabled Access Credit - kept: "Repeal of credit for expenditures to provide access to disabled individuals. ... The conference agreement does not follow the House bill provision." (p. 290)
    • Work Opportunity Tax Credit - kept: "Repeal of work opportunity tax credit. ... The conference agreement does not follow the House bill provision." (p. 285)
    • Orphan Drug credit -  reduced to 25%: "Repeal of credit for clinical testing expenses for certain drugs for rare diseases or conditions. ... The conference agreement follows the Senate amendment, but reduces the credit rate to 25 percent of qualified clinical testing expenses." (p. 282)
  • See also Joint Explanatory Statement


AUCD signed onto a letter drafted by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) strongly opposing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as passed out of both the House and Senate. The letter explains that both versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are dangerous proposals that will significantly reduce federal revenue. With federal revenues decreasing by more than a trillion dollars over the next ten years, there is little doubt that pressure will build to deeply cut crucial programs for people with disabilities, like Medicaid and Medicare. The final version of the bill has not changed this reality.


The House will likely vote December 19 on another continuing resolution (CR) which could include funding for CHIP and community health centers as well as disaster relief for victims of recent hurricanes. However, House Whip Steny Hoyer told Congressional Quarterly that some members will not support another CR that does include several "must pass" measures. Similarly, many House majority members are holding on to demands that the next CR fully fund defense appropriations through the end of the fiscal year, and use the coming CR to keep the remaining agencies funded into January.

The House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen released a bill (HJ Res 124) that would fully fund the defense programs for the entire 2018 fiscal year with a CR that would extend the remaining nondefense bills at current levels through January 19. The bill also contains a fix for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health center funding (two-year extension), National Health Service Corp (two-year extension) and other health programs. 

Unfortunately, the "extenders fix" pulls from the Prevention and Public Health Fund as an offset. While not eliminating the Prevention Fund entirely, it significantly cuts funding levels in out years, providing $900 million in FY 2018, $500 million per year from FY 2019-2024, $750 million in 2025, $1 billion in FY 2026, and back up to the original level of $2 billion per year in FY 2027 and beyond.


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) issued a report - "House Spending Bill Falls Short on CHIP, Community Health Centers, Puerto Rico" - indicating that the spending package includes a harmful provision (described here) that would take insurance away from up to 688,000 low- and moderate-income people, includes cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, and offers inadequate funding for CHIP as well as to Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands for disaster recovery.

Regarding the aid package for the territories, CBPP also explained, "policymakers need to take three steps to enable Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to continue providing needed Medicaid coverage to eligible residents: first, temporarily raise the federal matching rate to 100 percent, because neither Puerto Rico nor the Virgin Islands will be able to finance its current share of Medicaid costs anytime soon; second, increase the islands' Medicaid block grants (unlike for states, federal Medicaid funding for the territories is capped) enough to both accommodate the rise in the match rate and avert federal funding shortfalls that Puerto Rico faced before the hurricanes; and third, ensure 100 percent federal funding for state Medicaid costs related to caring for evacuees from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as the federal government did with Hurricane Katrina evacuees."

Health Care

On December 12, House majority members introduced five bills (HR 4617, 4618, 4620, 4619, 4616) to delay a range of Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes, which could be acted on later this month. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) led the announcement for the bills to delay ACA's tax on medical devices for five years, on health insurance for two years, and the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health plans for one year. The package would also eliminate penalties for employers who do not offer health insurance to their workers, under the employer mandate, through 2018. The bills are only supported by Republicans at the moment, but they come after bipartisan negotiations with Democrats on delaying the taxes, a move that is said to have support from both parties. The package could be attached as part of a bipartisan deal on the year-end government funding bill.


AUCD signed onto a letter urging Members of Congress to immediately enact a strong, five-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired on September 30, 2017. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), First Focus, Family Voices, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners will host a briefing tomorrow highlighting the critical need for funding of the CHIP program.


AUCD signed onto a letter urging Senators McConnell and Schumer, and Representatives Ryan and Pelosi to pass the bipartisan Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (S. 1909; HR 2575) by the year's end. The BENES Act presents an important opportunity for Members of Congress to advance bipartisan, low-cost reforms that are in the best interest of the many millions of Americans who will soon come to rely on Medicare.



On December 13, the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee approved the PROSPER Act (HR 4508) by a party-line vote of 23 to 17. Next, it moves to the full House for consideration in the new year. AUCD sent a letter to committee leadership expressing concerns based on the current version of the bill and signed onto a CCD letter addressing similar concerns. AUCD also sent a letter to Ranking Member Bobby Scott in support of the Improve Access to Higher Education amendment to H.R. 4058.


On December 20, the House Education and the Workforce Committee (Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.) will hold a hearing on "Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education." Witnesses include Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. See live webcast here.


AUCD signed onto a CCD letter expressing strong support for the Social Security Ticket to Work program and concern regarding language included in the FY 2018 Labor-HHS appropriations report that could result in the termination of this program. It is recognized that additional research is needed to identify ways to improve outcomes, which should focus on providing Congress with solid data regarding the outcomes achieved by and costs and benefits of the Ticket program so that improvements could be made based on evidence and data. Over the years, we have made numerous suggestions for ways in which the Ticket to Work program and other Social Security work incentives can be enhanced.

Money Follows the Person

AUCD signed onto a letter in support of an extension for the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, which expired in September of last year. On December 14, Senators Portman and Cantwell introduced the bipartisan 'Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources, and Care Act' or the 'EMPOWER Care Act'(S. 2227) that extends funding for the Money Follows the Person program to 2022. AUCD supports this version of the bill as it does not change the definition of qualified residence, provides a report that contains findings and conclusions on best practices, and changes the institutional residency period from 90 days to 60 days to be eligible for MFP. Though AUCD remains hopeful that it will be included in a year-end package, it is important that advocates continue to show support for MFP by educating their Members of Congress on the positive impact this program has had on transitioning people with disabilities from institutional settings to the community.

New Appointments

On December 4, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced he has named three new majority staff policy directors: Grace Stuntz to serve as Health Policy Director, Bob Moran as Education Policy Director, and Andy Banducci as Labor and Pensions Policy Director. See bio for each staff here.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

In this week's edition of Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All, Liz interviews Tom Sannicandro, (Director of the Institute on Community Inclusion) about the connection between his job as a director of a UCEDD and his experience as a state legislator in the Massachusetts legislature. In case you missed last week, Liz interviewed Amina Shaaban (ADA fellow from Tanzania) about her work in Tanzania with the Save the Children.


For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

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

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910