Disability Policy News In Brief

July 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)
July 1, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 25
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Congressional Recess

All members of Congress are in their home communities as part of the District Work Period for the July 4th Holiday. This is not a vacation; members will be in their home districts to connect with constituents like you. This is an important time to advocate locally on the issues you care about most.

Action Steps:

  • Use this Congressional recess to connect with your member of Congress face-to-face
    • Tip: If you see your member at a parade, festivity, or holiday event: say hello, thank them for their service and share that disability policy is important to you
  • Ask for a constituent meeting 
  • Attend a public event

Autism CARES: Hearing Recap

Amy Hewitt speaks to members of Congress. She's wearing a grey shirt and white cardigan, blue glasses, adn her hair is up.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) on September 30, 2019, without a successful reauthorization. Bills to reauthorize the Act have been introduced (S. 427, HR. 1058). Currently 25 Senators and 138 Representatives have joined as co-sponsors. A hearing in the House Committee of Energy and Commerce happened on Tuesday June 25th. Amy Hewitt, UCEDD/LEND Director of the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, testified as a witness. You can view the recording of the congressional hearing here.


Action Steps:

  • Contact your Congressional delegation and make sure they are engaged in the reauthorization. Check the House List and if your Representative has not yet co-sponsored call them and ask them to do so. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or 202 224-3091 (TTY)
  • 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 support H.R: 1058." 
  • Check the Senate List and if one or both of your Senators has not yet co-sponsored call them and ask them to do so. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 (voice) or 202 224-3091 (TTY)
  • Sample Script: "I am [Name] from [City]. I have seen the impact of Autism CARES and the lives changed because of this important legislation. I urge you to support S.427."


Senator Casey (D-PA) introduced the Protecting Married Seniors from Impoverishment Act (S.2000), this bill would make permanent existing protections that allow the spouse of a person receiving Medicaid-covered home and community-based services (HCBS) to retain a share of the couple's income and assets and avoid poverty, aligning HCBS protections with those for institutional care. The bill also clarifies existing rules for states that choose to go beyond the federal standards.

 What This Means to You:

  • People with disabilities receiving HCBS could be at risk of losing Medicaid eligibility without spousal improvement protections - which allows for a spouse to keep a share of the couple's income and assets to meet their needs without risking Medicaid eligibility.

Action Step:

  • Contact your Senators asking them to support this bill.

Senator Casey (D-PA) will lead the bipartisan Improving Low-Income Access to Prescription Drugs Act (S.1999) alongside Senator Daines (R-MT). This bill would ensure continuity of coverage and affordability for low-income seniors and people with disabilities as they transition to the Medicare coverage option of their choice through the permanent authorization of the Limited Income Newly Eligible Transition (LINET) program.

 What This Means to You:

  • Older Americans and people with disabilities are making difficult decisions around their healthcare and medicine coverage due to the high cost of prescription drugs.

Action Step:

  • Contact your Senators asking them to support this bill.

Budget & Appropriations

On June 19, the House approved H.R.2740 with a vote of 226-203. It contained four appropriations bills, including the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) bill. The package is not expected to pass the Senate as written due to the cost and controversial policy language. The White House has threatened to veto it.

Tax Policy

On June 18, Representatives Richard Neal (D-MA) and Michael San Nicolas (D-GU) introduced the Economic Mobility Act of 2019 (H.R.3300). This bill makes various improvements to the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and dependent care assistance, most of which last for two years. Additionally, it repeals a provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that imposes a tax on non-profit organizations that provide transportation benefits to their employees.

Campaign 2020

The first round of Democratic debates took place last week. These charts include candidates' positions on disability issues.

The candidates who qualify under Democratic National Committee rules will next meet in Detroit on July 30 and July 31.

In the coming weeks, we will dive deeper into each candidate:

headshot of Kamala HarrisKamala Harris (D-CA) was elected in 2016 as the second African American woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She is the first African American and first woman to serve as Attorney General of the state of California. "Throughout her career, Kamala has been a fearless advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable and a vocal and determined fighter on behalf of all people." She believes in a form of Medicare-for-all. "Medicare for All will eliminate premiums and out-of-pocket costs. It will guarantee comprehensive care including dental and vision, and ensure Americans are not denied services or doctor choice. It won't leave anyone behind, including the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and 61 million Americans with disabilities." Additionally, she is fighting for economic justice. "We need to fight for working families - to increase paychecks, decrease the cost of living and combat sexism, racism, and corporate favoritism in our economy." On current disability proposed legislation, Harris co-sponsors Transformation to Competitive Employment and the Disability Integration Act. You can learn more about Kamala Harris and the accessibility of her campaign here

Action Steps:

  • Your voice is needed to ensure that disability policy is part of the campaign.
  • For candidates who are currently in office, share and elevate their position on key disability legislation as noted in the chart. Tip: You can and should ask them to support bills of importance.
  • Check out the campaign website of each candidate (links provided); use the sites to submit questions about disability policy. For example, "How will you be ensuring that your campaign fully includes people with disabilities and intentionally speaks to people with disabilities?

Tuesdays with Liz: Winner of ADA Video Contest!

This video was created by the first-ever winner of the AUCD video contest: Emerging Leader Taylor Carley! Taylor is the Self-Advocacy Coordinator for the Institute for Disability Studies, the UCEDD center in Mississippi. Taylor and his colleagues, Dan Lewis and Emilee Flurry, share why they think the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is important, along with what it means for them for people with disabilities to be included in their communities.  

AUCD thanks all who submitted to this video contest, and encourages everyone with disabilities and their families to continue sharing their voices and collaborating with their local LENDs and UCEDDs. As Liz says, "All means ALL!"

To learn more about the AUCD Emerging Leaders Community, visit https://www.aucd.org/emergingleaders/home.

To find your local LEND or UCEDD in our Directory, visit https://www.aucd.org/directory/directory.cfm?program=UCEDD or call us, at 301-588-8252.


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





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