Disability Policy News In Brief

April 1, 2019

AUCD, Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday Disability Policy News In Brief, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
April 1, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 13
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The President's FY 2020 Budget Request cuts or eliminates critical funding for multiple programs that impact people with disabilities, including LENDs, UCEDDs and PNS. The budget process for Fiscal Year 2020, which starts on October 1, 2019, is now in the hands of the House and Senate. Hearing directly from constituents about why and how program funding impacts their district is the most important way to impact appropriations or how much money programs receive.   

  • Projects of National Significance:  $1 million, a cut of $11M.  
  • University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities:  $33 million, a cut of $8M.  
  • Autism and Other Developmental Disorders (which includes LENDs) is zeroed out, a cut of $52M.

Action Step:

Educate the Congressional Delegation of your state or territory about requested appropriations to support the programs you care about. Share AUCD's FY 2020 ask 

Autism CARES 2019  

The Autism CARES Act - which has expanded research and coordination, increased public awareness and surveillance, and expanded interdisciplinary health professional training, including LENDs, to identify and support children and youth with Autism and their families - will sunset (expire) in September 2019 without a successful reauthorization. Bills to reauthorize the Act have been introduced and need co-sponsors (HR. 1058, S. 427). Currently six Senators and 33 Representatives have joined as co-sponsors.  

Moving the bill before expiration in September will require action. Congressmen and Co-Sponsors Smith and Doyle have requested that the Energy & Commerce Committee consider H.R. 1058 in April during Autism Awareness Month.

Action Steps:

  • This week contact your Representative (202-224-3121) and ask them to support the request that the Energy & Commerce Committee consider H.R. 1058 in April during Autism Awareness Month.

Sample Script: "I am [Name] from [State]. I have seen the impact of Autism CARES and the lives changed because of this important legislation. I urge you to ask the Energy & Commerce Committee consider H.R. 1058 in April during Autism Awareness Month. Thank you

  •  Contact your Congressional delegation and make sure they are engaged in the reauthorization. 
  • Invite your Congressmembers to be a co-sponsor of Autism CARES, or thank them for their involvement. 
  • Use this easy form to send an educational email to your members about the importance of Autism CARES legislation.


Health Care

 The  Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019 HR 1839 passed the House on Monday the 25th of March. The bill extends spousal impoverishment protections through September 2019, includes a new version of ACE Kids, includes an additional $20 million for Money Follows the Person and has a very small extension until June 2019 for Excellence in Mental Health states. It is unclear if and when the Senate will take up these issues. 

Action Step:

  • Contact both your Senators and ask them to support The Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019


Medicaid Work Requirements

D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' approval of Medicaid waiver projects in Kentucky and Arkansas that include work mandates and other cuts to coverage. This marks the second time the court vacated HHS's approval of the Kentucky project, Significantly, the rulings mean that the states cannot move forward with the projects at this time.

Group Health Plan Rules

 U.S. District Court Judge John Bates on Thursday blocked new rules governing association health plans, or AHPs, which let businesses and individuals band together to create group health plans that offer less expensive coverage than the ACA -- but without some of its protections.


In a filing, the Justice Department argues that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and should be scrapped entirely. This is a significant change; the Justice Department argued last year that some parts of the 2010 law -- but not all of it -- should be struck down in a case brought by the state of Texas.

The actions of the courts reflect the balance of powers in our democracy, in the same way that the policies at hand reflect the consequence of elections. It is important to let your elected officials at the state and national level know how healthcare policy touches your life and the lives of people with disabilities in your community.

Action Steps:

  • Register to vote and make sure others in your community are registered.
  • Reach out to elected officials and share why effective health policy is critical for people with disabilities 


Last week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos answered questions about her Department's portion of the proposed presidential budget for Fiscal Year 2020. The Constitution gives Congress the ultimate power to set a budget and it is understood that much of the proposed budget is unlikely to be adopted. For instance, the Trump administration also zeroed the Special Olympics funding in its first two budget requests. Congress ignored the proposal. 

As a reminder, the Department of Education FY 2020 proposals included :

  • Programs of interest that are level funded:
    • Special Education
      • All birth and K-12 special education investments remain at FY19 levels.
    • Model Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities into Higher Education (TPSID) remain at FY19 levels.
  • Programs of interest with increases:
    • Rehabilitation Services 
    • Vocational Rehabilitation grants saw a small increase from $3,522 to $3,610 billion.
  • Programs of interest with cuts:  
    • Hellen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youths and Adults cut from $13.5 to $10.3 million.
    • Special Institutions: $216.7 million, a cut of $25.6M.
    • Supported Employment State Grants would be eliminated, a cut of $22.5 million.
    • Special Olympics Education Programs would be eliminated, a cut of $17.6 million.
  • School choice proposal: a tax credit estimated to cost $50 billion over the next decade.
    • $200 million for school safety initiatives, such as developing safety plans, counseling, and emotional support and improving behaviors of students. Half the funding would be used for a new grant program for states and localities.

Action Step:

Much of the media coverage last week focused anger about cuts at Secretary Devos and the President. Congress is currently working on the FY 2020 budget; contact your Senators and your Representative about the priorities and needs you see. 

Campaign 2020

The following notable candidates have filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees. Your voice is needed to ensure that disability policy is part of the campaign.


Action Steps:

  • For candidates who are currently in office, share and elevate their position on key disability legislation as noted below. Tip: You can and should ask them to support bills of importance.
  • Check out the campaign website of each candidate (links below); use the sites to ask questions about disability policy.

 Beto O'Rourke (D), former Representative from Texas, announced on March 14th, 2019

Jay Inslee (D), Governor of Washington state, announced on February 28, 2019

Bernie Sanders (I), U.S. Senator from Vermont, announced on February 19, 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Amy Klobuchar (D), U.S. Senator from Minnesota, announced on February 10, 2019

·       Cosponsor of the Autism Cares 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Corey Booker (D), U.S. Senator from New Jersey, announced on February 1, 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Pete Buttigieg (D), Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced on January 23, 2019 

Kamala Harris (D), U.S. Senator from California, announced on January 21, 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Kirsten Gillibrand (D), U.S. Senator from New York, announced on January 15, 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Julian Castro (D), former U.S. Secretary of HUD, announced on January 12, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard (D), U.S. Representative from Hawaii, announced on January 11, 2019

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, announced on December 31, 2018

·       Co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019

Andrew Yang (D), entrepreneur and venture capitalist, filed on November 6, 2017

John Delaney (D), former U.S. Representative from Maryland, filed on August 10, 2017

Donald Trump (R), sitting President, officially filed his campaign, January 20, 2017


Tuesdays with Liz: Preparing to Meet with Congressional Staffers

Liz goes over things to keep in mind when meeting Congressional staffers while Inky Brittany provides graphic recording.


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