AUCD Legislative News InBrief

July 9, 2007

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate return today from the Independence Day recess.  The Senate will begin work on the defense authorization bill which is expected to take at least two weeks of floor debate.  Following the defense authorization bill, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) stated he wants to move on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, followed by the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and FDA.  House Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) indicated that priories for the remainder of the year include SCHIP, an overhaul of the alternative minimum tax, and an overhaul of FDA operations.  The House and Senate will also continue working on appropriation bills.   


FY 08 Appropriations

The Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill is expected to be marked up by the House Committee this week with full House consideration the following week.  In the Senate, the L-HHS-ED spending bill has passed both the subcommittee and full committee but there is no date set for floor action.  President Bush is threatening to veto every spending bill except for the Military Construction-VA bill and the Legislative Branch measure.  The biggest reason is spending levels -- Democrats want to provide about $23 billion more than President Bush wants overall, while shifting another $3.5 billion from the Pentagon budget to domestic programs. If the appropriations bills stall over spending levels and policy disputes, the bills could be rolled into a large omnibus bill or a continuing resolution that continues spending at current or even reduced levels.  Either of these options threatens the increases contained in the House and Senate bills to programs important to individuals with disabilities.  AUCD has created an Action Alert for Members to contact their Representatives to educate them about the need to move the L-HHS-ED appropriations bills forward.  For more information about the House and Senate proposed funding levels, see the June 28 In Brief


Community long-term services and supports/CLASS Act
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on community long-term services and supports.  Senator Kennedy (D-MA) plans to reintroduce the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.  The hearing will include testimony by: Susan M. Daniels; Monica Herring; Glenda Faatoafe (Home Care Worker); Shawn Griffin (Community Entry Services, Riverton, WY); Andrew J. Imparato (American Association of People with Disabilities); Deborah Fleming (UW College of Health Sciences, affiliated with the Wyoming UCEDD).  Testimony and live video (scheduled for 10AM Eastern) will be available at the following link



House Democrats are planning to move a comprehensive health care package in July that includes $50 billion for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization, along with changes in Medicare reimbursement policy. Their measure is likely to pay for expansion of SCHIP by increasing the federal tobacco tax and reducing Medicare payments to managed care plans and other providers.  In the Senate, the Finance Committee plans to markup a $50 billion SCHIP bill in July as well.  The administration's FY 2008 budget requested about half the amount sought by congressional Democrats for SCHIP reauthorization. President Bush recently warned Democrats against passing a "massive" expansion of SCHIP by expanding it to children with incomes above 200 percent of the federal poverty level or providing coverage to low-income adults, such as pregnant women. Bush instead argued for a change in the way the federal tax code treats health benefits and/or a tax credit to help the uninsured get coverage.


DD Act

On June 22, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced H.R.2839, a bill that would limit the ability of the protection and advocacy system to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in institutions.  The bill would amend the Developmental Disabilities Bill of Rights Act of 2000 to require protection and advocacy systems to give notice to, and obtain the authorization of, an individual (or the individual's legal representative) before pursuing remedies on behalf of the individual.  The CCD DD Task Force leaders drafted a letter requesting a meeting with Rep. Frank to discuss the issue.  For more information, contact Kim Musheno at AUCD.


Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act

AUCD is working to gain support for the Expanding the Promise to Individuals with Autism Act and to urge the House and Senate to mark up their bills in committee.  The Senate bill (S. 937) has 11 co-sponsors (including 3 Republicans) and the House bill (H.R. 1881) has 60 co-sponsors (including 16 Republicans).  A summary of the bill is located at the following link .  AUCD has prepared an Action Alert to gain co-sponsors on the bill. 


Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) recently introduced S.1050, the "Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act," to address problems encountered by people with disabilities in accessing healthy lifestyle education, health screenings and other preventative care services.  For example, visits to physicians' offices often do not include accessible examination and diagnostic equipment, such as accessible examination tables, weight scales, and mammography machines for people with mobility or balance issues and it is often difficult for persons with intellectual disabilities to find physicians or dentists willing to take them on as patients.  Senator Harkin's bill will authorize the U.S. Access Board to establish accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment, establish a national wellness grant program that will help fund programs for smoking cessation, weight control, nutrition or fitness that focus on the unique challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and will improve the education and training of physicians and dentists by requiring that medical schools, dental schools, and their residency programs provide training to improve competency and clinical skills in providing care to patients with disabilities, including those with intellectual disabilities.  Senate Bill 1050 needs support in the Senate.  There are currently no co-sponsors on the Senate bill.  AUCD has created an Action Alert on this issue.