Disability Policy News In Brief

August 13, 2018

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August 13, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 174
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Members of the Senate return from recess on August 14, but the House will remain in recess until September 4. A recess is not a vacation; they are district work days meant for you to engage with your elected officials locally. Connecting with your Members of Congress during the recess is a terrific way to show that you are interested in partnering for good policy.

If your Senators or Representative voted in a way you agree with, taking the time to say thank you is a great way to build a long-term relationship. If they voted in a way you found challenging, connecting to follow up is the right way to build ties and share how you are willing to be a good resource about the issues that are important to you.

Action Steps:

  • Call your lawmakers' district offices and ask for appointments with your Senators and Representative while they are home.
  • Attend a town hall.
  • Connect with them at a public event (parade, festival, etc.).
  • Submit an op-ed to your local paper.
  • Use Facebook or Twitter to engage your Members of Congress.


Health Care

Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced in a Health Affairs post proposed changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program in an effort to ensure that providers take on more financial risk - and do it more quickly. The changes as outlined in the 607-page proposed rule will be available online on August 17 at https://federalregister.gov/d/2018-17101. They will trim the time that ACOs can remain in the program without assuming risk from six years to two years.

Action Step:

  • Prepare to share comments on the proposed rule. This is an opportunity to ensure that ACOs impact the cost of care. It will also be important to monitor how this change affects access to care in communities as this program is voluntary and ACOs may exit based on changes.

Public Health Services Act Reform

Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA-6) has introduced H.R. 6611, a bill that would amend the Public Health Services Act to recognize individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) as a medically underserved population (MUP). This would expand and improve services at health centers for people with developmental disabilities significantly and has been a goal of disability advocates for many years. 

Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2018

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) has introduced H.R. 5942, a bill that seeks to address disparities in health that exist based on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, sexual orientation, disability rights, gender identity and socioeconomic status in health programs.

Action Step:

  • Contact your Congressional delegation and ask them to support legislation that addresses disparities for people with disabilities, including those with intelllectual and developmental disabilities.


Civil Rights

Nomination of Judge Kavanaugh

AUCD has taken a position of opposition to the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our opposition is based on Judge Kavanaugh's record and the threat that his appointment to the Supreme Court poses to the civil rights and civil liberties of people with disabilities, including access to health care.

Action Steps:

  • Every Senator will have a vote, so contacting both your Senators to share your concerns and speaking specifically about the civil rights of people with disabilities is critical. Phone calls and in-person meetings (including in state offices) are the most impactful.
  • AUCD has an easy way to send an email to both of your Senators. You can find the link here.

Communication to the following Senators is particularly important:

  • Doug Jones (D-AL); Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV)



A group of 21 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing concerns about the administration's decision to rescind guidance to schools and higher education institutions on affirmative action. The letter included a request to answer five questions about the process of making the decision and steps to move forward.

Action Step:

  • Contact both your Senators to share your concerns and what information is needed in your state to ensure immigrants, women, students of color, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault and LGBTQ students have access to higher education.



Federal Contractors' Hiring of Individuals with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor Office for Federal Contract Compliance will begin conducting random focused reviews of federal contractors to ensure that they are attempting to meet a seven percent hiring goal for individuals with disabilities within their workforce. The Obama Administration created the employment goal within regulations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 2013. The reviews will begin when regular audits of federal contractors begin anew in 2019.


Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

This week, Liz sits down again with civil rights lawyer David Goldberg to discuss Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. They discuss a D.C. Circuit Court ruling by Judge Kavanaugh that undermined the civil rights of three women with intellectual disabilities. 



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

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