Disability Policy News In Brief

July 23, 2018

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July 23, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 171
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Editor's note: Your weekly Disability Policy News In Brief will continue to arrive as usual, but will no longer be written by me, Christine Grosso. After three incredible years of working as a policy analyst for AUCD, I will be pursuing my passion in Occupational Therapy at Pacific University in Oregon where I will continue to work with the AUCD network. I cannot thank AUCD and the entire Network enough for the many ways you have supported and prepared me for this transition. Thanks for reading and for all your advocacy! You can find me on Twitter at @ChristineMG14.

Budget and Appropriations

FY 2019 Appropriations: Department of the Interior & Financial Agencies

On July 19, the House passed a package of two FY 2019 appropriations bills on a 217-199 vote that fell mostly along party lines. The passage of the bills marks the halfway point in the House's efforts to pass the 12 annual spending bills that are required to fund the federal government. Next week the Senate is expected to take up its own version of the bills alongside legislation covering funding for the Departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development.

Health Care

On July 19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will form a working group to review the possibility of importing drugs from other countries in cases where there is a sharp price increase for medications produced by a single manufacturer who does not hold a patent over the drugs in question. Policy observers see the working group as a possible first step to greater policy change that may enable Americans to import drugs from other countries where they are less expensive. The Trump Administration stressed that loosening restrictions on drug importation would not apply to a broader category of pharmaceuticals, but rather those that are not produced by patents or exclusivities. Pharmaceutical companies expressed concern that removal of drug importation barriers could undermine U.S. safety standards and would not solve under-reimbursement issues.

H.R. 6042

On July 17, the Senate passed H.R. 6042, which delays the reduction in federal medical assistance percentage for Medicaid personal care services that are furnished without the presence of an electronic visit verification (EVV) system until January 1st of 2020. The bill, which had bipartisan support, was passed by unanimous consent following previous passage by the House, and is expected to be signed into law by the president.


  • Action Step: Reach out to your members of Congress who supported the bill's passage. Then, follow up contacting leaders in your state about using the extra year to ensure effective planning for implementation of EVV in your state.


Medicaid in Kentucky

Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin (R) has announced he will reinstate dental and vision benefits for 500,000 Medicaid enrollees whose coverage was canceled earlier in July. Bevin's administration decided to cancel the enrollees' coverage in response to a decision by a federal judge blocking the state's proposal to impose work requirements in Medicaid. In the decision, the judge had criticized work requirements and the Trump Administration's decisions that enabled their creation, ruling that the requirements did not adequately consider the coverage losses that would affect Medicaid enrollees.

The Trump Administration has since announced on July 18 that it would reopen a 30-day comment period on Kentucky's plan. This is seen as an effort to show that it is now giving more consideration to concerns about how CMS work requirements would affect enrollees, which was the chief concern behind the judge's ruling against the administration.

An appeal of the decision following the 30-day comment period could open Kentucky's Medicaid up to work requirements and would also impact other states facing similar changes, including Indiana, New Hampshire and Arkansas.


  • Action Step: Reach out to your Governor and state legislators to advocate that work requirements not be a part of waiver applications in your state.


Civil Rights

The Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services has announced it will appeal a recent decision that permitted the Judge Rotenberg Center to continue its use of electric skin shocks (aversive treatment) as a disciplinary measure against students with disabilities. Disability rights groups have fought fiercely to ban the practice at the Judge Rotenberg Center for many years, and it remains the only school in the country to use electric shocks on students with disabilities. Advocates are hopeful that the decision to allow the practice will be overturned at a higher court.


On July 17, the Senate confirmed James Blew to be Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education. The vote fell along party lines (50-49) and occurred several months after Blew's nomination had been announced. Blew is the former national director of the Walton Family Foundation's K-12 reform efforts and the former president of StudentsFirst, a major school choice organization. He is seen as a fierce proponent of vouchers and charter schools.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Thursday, July 26, marks the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This week, Tuesdays with Liz presents an ADA Anniversary Special reflecting on the ADA and what it means to different people.



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

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