Disability Policy News In Brief

September 24, 2018

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September 24, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 180
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Administration Updates

Dr. Michael Warren has been appointed the new Associate Administrator of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), beginning October 15. Dr. Warren is currently the Deputy Commissioner for Population Health at the Tennessee Department of Health, and previously served as the state's Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness and Director of Maternal and Child Health.


Celebrate democracy in America by registering to vote on National Voter Registration Day (September 25).

Action Step:



Budget and Appropriations

FY 2019 Budget: Labor-HHS-Education

On September 18, the Senate voted to pass an $854 billion bill (H.R. 6157) that includes funding for the Departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. It includes a short-term stopgap bill that will fund the rest of the government through December 7. The full legislation accounts for approximately two-thirds of FY 2019 federal spending and will be taken up by the House this week in order to avoid a shutdown that would begin on October 1.

Budget Reallocation

The administration notified members of the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies that it plans to reallocate $266 million this fiscal year to cover the rising cost of housing thousands of undocumented immigrant children in their custody. Funds to be used include $76,188 budgeted for UCEDDs and $200,000 budgeted for autism services, including those provided by LENDs.

A full list of the budget request is detailed in a letter sent to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Subcommittee's Ranking Member, by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

Action Step:

  • Connect with your Representative and both of your Senators to share information about the programs impacted by this budget reallocation and your concern at its harmful impact.



Last week's edition of In Brief stated that the spending agreement in H.R. 6157 included a $1.5 million increase in funding for "Autism and DD Councils." The increase will go to Autism and Developmental Disabilities programs in HRSA; DD Councils are funded at level in the bill passed by the Senate.

Health Care

Sign On Letter: Include Developmental Disability in Medical Education

The Health is for Everyone: Action Team (HEAT), led by AUCD, submitted a sign on letter to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education requesting that a requirement for content on developmental disabilities be integrated into Element 7.2 in the Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the MD Degree. Given HEAT's efforts on the American Medical Association Resolution 315 on the inclusion of Developmental Disability (DD) in undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education of physicians, it is timely to include developmental disabilities in undergraduate medical education training. Integrating such a requirement would be a powerful step towards ensuring medical education incorporates developmental disabilities fully.

Action Step:


Opioid Legislation

On September 17, the Senate passed a bipartisan package of 70 bills focused on addressing the opioid epidemic (H.R. 6). The legislation makes several changes to opioid coverage, prevention and treatment in state Medicaid programs.

The measure passed by an overwhelming 99-1 margin and must now be reconciled with a House bill that passed earlier this summer.

Action Step:

  • Contact both your Senators and your Representative and share how the opioid epidemic impacts your state, including its impact on people with disabilities and their families. 


Civil Rights

Supreme Court Nomination

The confirmation process for Judge Kavanaugh extends this week with a planned additional day of hearings. The additional time provides a chance to continue to share your input with your Senators. AUCD has provided an additional resource to address the written comments of Judge Kavanaugh on the Doe case.

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 is happy to hand-deliver any letters to your senator on Capitol Hill. Email your letters to [email protected] or [email protected] and AUCD will make sure they get passed on to your senator. Use your voice!


Communication to the following Senators is particularly important:

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


If you live in their states, you are encouraged to activate your networks. If you are not in their states, consider reaching out to friends and urge them to lift their voices.

Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act

On September 18, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act (S. 3459), which helps make it easier for small businesses to become accessible to people with disabilities and achieve ADA compliance. The legislation expands the Disabled Access Credit (DAC) and increases eligible expenses that businesses can write off in order to make their facilities ADA compliant. It also increases funding for the U.S. Department of Justice's ADA Mediation Program, which helps individuals with disabilities and businesses resolve accessibility issues directly and avoid litigation.

Additionally, S. 3459 directs the Department of Justice to conduct a report on the specific types of calls the ADA Information Line receive, so that the government can improve the ways individuals with disabilities and businesses learn about ADA compliance and civil rights. You can read more about the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act here.

Action Step:

  • Contact your Senators and encourage them to cosponsor S. 3459. If your Senator is already a cosponsor of the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act, please thank him/her for their support.


ADA Website Accessibility

Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting clarification on whether the ADA applies to website accessibility. It contends that businesses and property owners do not have clear guidance on accessibility standards and urges the Justice Department to resolve the matter. The letter was cosigned by four other Republican senators - Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Action Step:

  • Contact your Senators and share your concerns about the importance of accessing websites to people with disabilities.



OSERS Framework

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released a two-page framework that summarizes how the Department plans to approach policy regarding early childhood, educational and employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The framework briefly summarizes the Department's broad priorities as it re-evaluates and reforms policies. You can view the framework here.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

Happy National Direct Support Professionals Week! In this episode, Liz talks with Joe Macbeth, the Executive Director of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). Joe explains what a direct support professional is, the importance of their work, and how you can help DSPs get better pay. Sign the petition to ‘Establish a Direct Support Professional Standard Occupational Classification' here.

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

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