Disability Policy News In Brief

October 29, 2018

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October 29, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 185
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We are 8 days from the election. Use the following information from New Jersey's Boggs Center to learn more about the legal and practical issues related to voting:


  • Voting: It's Your Right (English)
  • Votar: es su derecho (Spanish)
Action Steps:
  • Plan and prepare to vote and support others in voting on November 6!


Congressional Recess

Both houses of Congress are on recess through the midterm elections. Connecting while they are home campaigning is a great way to show that you are interested in partnering for good policy.
This issue of In Brief includes several topics you are encouraged to connect with your members about. You can use the campaign period as a way to raise issues you care about not only with the incumbent, but also with those running to represent you.

Action Steps:

  • Call your lawmakers' district offices and ask for appointments with your Representatives 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

State Insurance Plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued new guidance that will impact health plans in 2020 and later. Changes allow states to promote health plans that don't require the same level of coverage as the federal health law, including charging higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions. States still need to provide Obamacare-compliant plans, but they can now allow policies like short-term or association health plans.

Action Steps:

  • Make comments on the proposal and share your comments with your Congressional delegation. Educate them on the needs of people with disabilities.
  • You can submit comments online until 5:00 PM on December 24, 2018.


Drug Prices

President Trump detailed a Health and Human Services proposal to tie the amount of money that the government pays for certain drugs to their cost in other countries. The intention is to lower prescription drug costs. The proposal is essentially a pilot program that would be run through Medicare Part B, which covers drugs administered by doctors.

Action Steps:

  • Make comments on the proposal and share your comments with your Congressional delegation. Educate them as they consider options to address pharmaceutical costs and areas of concern.
  • You can submit comments online from October 30, 2018 until 5 p.m. on December 31, 2018.



Public Charge Rule

The proposed changes to the public charge rule have been published in the Federal Register. The comment period will last until December 10, 2018. Our friends at Rooted in Rights have created video resources that illustrate how the change would impact families that include people with disabilities. Making comments is a critical way to impact policy.

Action Steps:

  • Use AUCD's background information fact sheet to learn more.
  • Used AUCD's online tool to make comments that include the impact on people with disabilities.


Proposed Regulations

Gender Definition

According to published reports, the Department of Health and Human Services is considering narrowing the legal definition of gender under the Title IX civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on gender. The New York Times reports, "defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth . . . . [the] proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.

ObamaCare Exemptions

According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration is preparing to expand religious and moral exemptions for employer health care plans, which are required to cover birth control under Obamacare: "The exact details of the exemptions, and when they would take effect, remain unclear. But women's health advocates are bracing for a legal fight. They expect the rules to mimic earlier regulations enacted by the Trump administration last year before being blocked by federal judges ... The rules allowed nearly any employer - nonprofit or for-profit - with a religious or moral objection to opt out of the Affordable Care Act provision requiring the coverage of contraception."

Action Steps:

Although there is not a formal comment period open for either of these issues, you can still share your voice. Consider writing a letter with your concerns and sharing it with:


  • Your entire Congressional delegation - both Senators and your Representative
  • The White House
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, [email protected]


Home and Community Based Services

ACL, in partnership with CMS and other national partners, invites you to participate in a three-part technical assistance webinar series highlighting innovative strategies and approaches states are taking to effectively implement the federal settings criteria for home and community-based services (HCBS). The webinar series is intended to help ACL's networks, partners, and external stakeholders identify strategic ways to engage in their state's ongoing HCBS systems transformation efforts.

Innovative State Approaches to Promoting Compliance with the Federal HCBS Settings Criteria

Thursday, November 8, 2:00 - 3:30pm ET

An overview of innovative state strategies in setting assessment, validation, and remediation of HCBS settings; training/technical assistance models that states have rolled out (in collaboration with various partners) to ensure providers are able to make modifications to comply with the rule; and how to conduct ongoing monitoring of HCBS settings.



Promising State Strategies for Working with Providers to Meet the HCBS Settings Criteria & Promote Optimal Community Integration

Thursday, November 29, 2:00 - 3:30pm ET

A review of promising practices states are using (in partnership with stakeholders) for provider transformation, as well as state strategies to build provider capacity to improve community integration and increase the availability of non-disability specific settings.



After Receiving Final Statewide Transition Plan Approval: Tackling the Ongoing Systems-Change Work that Remains

Thursday, December 13, 2:00 - 3:30pm ET

A review of creative examples of state policy reforms, reimbursement/rate restructuring, and meaningful stakeholder engagement activities to facilitate ongoing HCBS systems-change.


This webinar series is open to the public. Each participant must register for each of the three sessions separately.



Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Everyone who wants a job should have a job! Tune in this week as Liz talks about why having a job is so important to her and the work accommodations you're entitled to as a person with a disability. Also, get to know some more AUCD staff as they talk about why National Disability Employment Month matters to them.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All


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

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