Disability Policy News In Brief

June 4, 2018

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June 4, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 164
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Congressional Recess

Members of Congress are back in DC after their Memorial Day recess.

  • Action Item: If you met with your Members, send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and share any resources you mentioned during your meeting.
  • Future planning: Members of congress will also be on recess the first week of July, most of August, and early September - see Congress.gov schedule and a Roll-Call calendar. A searchable list of scheduled events can be found at the Town Hall Project.

Don't Forget to Vote This Summer!

Tomorrow, June 5, Alabama's state primary election is open. The dates for other state primaries are listed here. Primaries can be categorized as either closedpartially closedpartially open, open to unaffiliated votersopen, or top-two. Note that Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia hold their legislative elections in odd-numbered years. The dates listed for those states apply to congressional and other races. Also, eight states have reserved dates for a possible primary runoff in the event that no candidate gets the required percentage of votes. Visit National Conference of State Legislatures for more information.

Health Care

Opioid Bills - Neonatal, Children, and Families

Last week, the House Education & Workforce Committee and Senate Finance Committee introduced three bills each aimed at addressing the opioid crisis and its impact on children and families:

  • H.R. 5889, Recognizing Early Childhood Trauma Related to Substance Abuse Act of 2018: Requires HHS to disseminate and share information to professionals working with young children on ways to recognize children impacted by trauma related to an adult's substance use, and how to respond in a manner that will provide the best support for the child.
  • H.R. 5890, Assisting States' Implementation of Plans of Safe Care Act: Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide states with guidance to support their implementation of the plans of safe care assurance within Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act  (CAPTA), including by enhancing their understanding of the law, addressing state-identified challenges, sharing best practices, and supporting collaboration.
  • H.R. 5891, Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act: Establishes an interagency task force to develop a strategy on how federal agencies can implement a coordinated approach to responding to the opioid epidemic, with a particular focus on the existing programs that support infants, children and their families.
  • S. 2924, the Supporting Family Focused Residential Treatment Act, which aims to promote family-based residential treatment by requiring the HHS Secretary to issue guidance to states on how they can support such treatment facilities. 
  • S. 2926, the Improving Recovery and Reunifying Families Act, aimed at replicating effective recovery coach programs to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system who are impacted by substance use disorders.
  • S. 2923, the Building Capacity for Family-Focused Residential Treatment Act, which creates a grant program to promote family-based residential treatment.
  • Action Item: Your congressional delegation is seeking information about the opioid epidemic.  Your research, training, clinical and community perspectives are needed.  Contact the Health Legislative Assistant for your Representative and both of your Senates to share your input.  You may also consider scheduling an in-person meeting on the topic at the congressional offices in your community.

ABLE Act             

Background  -  Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act - HR 647/S 313) was signed into law by President Obama in 2014. The ABLE Act allows certain individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save resources in a tax-advantaged savings account (an ABLE account) for the purposes of covering disability-related expenses. ABLE accounts can be used to cover qualified disability expenses such as, but not limited to: education, housing, transportation.

Proposed changes and enhancement since 2014 include:

  • ABLE Financial Planning Act: Allows ABLE beneficiaries who work and earn income to save additional amounts in their ABLE accounts and allow rollovers of 529 accounts to ABLE (529A) accounts. The 529 rollover was enacted as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
  • ABLE to Work Act: ABLE beneficiary who earns income from a job could save up to the Federal Poverty Level and qualify for the existing Saver's Credit.
  • ABLE Age Adjustment Act: Raising the age of onset of a disability for ABLE accounts through age 46 (the current age is 26), allowing those who become disabled later in life to open ABLE accounts.
  • Current focus: Disability advocates and Congressional champions are focused on increasing the age limit to 46 in order to provide eligibility to approximately 6 million more individuals to open ABLE accounts, which would improve the sustainability of the program.
  • Resources: Please see NAST summary of sustainability for talking points, ANRC for state specific information, and Tuesday's with Liz below.
  • Action Item: Educate your Members on the importance of increasing the age limit and/or advocate for your Members to support ABLE Age Adjustment Act HR 1874/S 817.


Three civil rights groups are suing the Trump administration over changes to the Education Department's rulebook for civil rights investigations, which the groups say will keep them from bringing claims on behalf of students alleging discrimination. Earlier this year, the Trump administration overhauled the rules for investigating discrimination in the nation's schools in a way that administration officials have said is meant to "boost efficiency", but advocates have argued will weaken enforcement of civil rights.

  • The National Federation of the Blind, the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates and the NAACP argue in a new lawsuit that the Office for Civil Rights' new case processing manual cuts them out by telling civil rights investigators to dismiss bulk complaints. Under the new rule, they say they "will be blocked from bringing multiple claims on behalf of their multiple constituents."
  • The groups argue in the lawsuit that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act by making the changes without putting them out for public comment. Eve Hill, an attorney representing the groups, stated "This is a substantive change to whether - not how, but whether - your complaint is investigated".

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Welcome back Liz! Liz returns to AUCD full time after working with the Senate Aging Committee. In this week's edition, Liz gives an update about proposed changes to the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act that have recently come out of Congress and tells you how you can get involved in advocating!


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 

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