Disability Policy News In Brief

September 16, 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)
September 16, 2019   |   Vol. MMXIX, Issue 36
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Autism CARES

The Senate has ten days to act on the reauthorization of 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. HR. 1058, which reauthorizes CARES for five years, passed the House on Wednesday July 24, 2019.

Action Steps:

  • Sample Tweet: #AutismCARES provides critically needed research, #LEND training, and system improvement for families with #autism and related #disabilities. (Insert Twitter Handle of your Senator), support the passage of this important legislation before it expires Sept 30! @AUCDNews
  • Movement and negotiations continue in the Senate HELP Committee. Reach out to your Senators to offer the impact of CARES in their state.


The number of Americans lacking health insurance increased slightly last year, marking the first annual increase in the uninsured rate in nearly a decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The uninsured rate rose from 7.9 percent in 2017 to 8.5 percent last year. Declines in public insurance coverage were the sharpest last year, even as the percentage of those covered by Medicare, the health program primarily for seniors, increased. The number of people covered by Medicaid decreased by .7 percentage points, after seeing significant growth under Obamacare's expansion of the program in recent years. Census officials did not attribute a cause for the decline. By contrast, the percentage of people with private health coverage did not change much. The Census estimates found that the uninsured rate declined in three states - New York, South Carolina and Wyoming - and rose in eight states: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington state. Most states saw no statistically significant change.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about the importance of access to affordable healthcare from our Health Care Hub.
  • While the uninsured rate remains far below its pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) level, the gains achieved through the ACA could entirely disappear if you don't share your healthcare stories with your legislators. Contact them today!

Budget and Appropriations

Federal fiscal year 2020 starts on October 1st. This leaves Congress just two weeks to pass funding bills or pass a short-term continuing resolution to extend current spending levels. The House has passed 10 of its 12 annual funding bills, but the Senate hasn't passed any as they waited for Congressional leaders to strike a two-year budget deal. The Senate Appropriations Committee was expected to start voting on legislation last week, but the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee markup was called off for the time being due to a dispute over controversial amendments known as "poison pills." The budget deal reached this summer included a bipartisan agreement to avoid introducing overly partisan provisions into the Senate appropriations bills. Disagreements over whether language preventing HHS from implementing the administration's new Title X rule is considered a poison pill have led to the current cancellation of appropriation markups.

Action Step:

  • Learn more about the budget process here.
  • Share with your members the importance of UCEDD, LEND, and PNS appropriations.

Mental Health & Gun Violence

Senate Judiciary, HELP, and Homeland Security Committees are all considering legislation that could harm disability civil rights and stigmatize people with disabilities. Creating registries with mental health as an indicator or reopening institutions have both been proposed policies to address gun violence. The disability community has been actively engaged and expects movement in September on this.

Action Steps:

  • Learn more about this from our friends from the Bazelon Center: Statement & Review


The nomination hearing for Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor will occur this week, Thursday, at 9 a.m. in front of the HELP Committee. The disability community is raising concerns around his policies and history related to people with disabilities. He has a record of defending corporations in ADA claims and narrowing protections for workers. 

Action Step:

Campaign 2020

#CripTheVote is a nonpartisan campaign that was started on Twitter to both engage voters with disabilities and encourage politicians to have a national conversation about disability rights.

Last week during the third Democratic Debate, here are some things heard via Twitter from the disability community:

The next Democratic primary debate takes place on Oct. 15 and possibly Oct. 16 in Ohio. Republican presidential primary challengers William Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, are expected to debate as part of an event hosted in New York by Business Insider on Sept. 24. The Trump campaign said the president will not participate. Former South Carolina Gov. and former Rep. Mark Sanford (R) also has been invited.


Tuesdays with Liz

2019 AUCD summer intern Shante Dannil from the Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health describes what a Language Access Plan is and how it can help people with disabilities and individuals with limited-English-proficiency.




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








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