Disability Policy News

January 13, 2020

Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Disability Policy News logo, every Monday, from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
                January 13, 2020   |   Vol. MMXX, Issue 2

ACL logo with three people unified one blue, red, and orangeFamily Caregiving

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has issued a request for information/input to assist the RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council in developing its initial report to Congress and to inform the development of the national family caregiving strategy and help the Council plan future activities, including public listening sessions. The deadline for public input is February 7, 2020.

Plain Language:

  • The government wants to hear from you about being a family caregiving.

What this means to you:

  • ACL and the advisory council are identifying actions that communities, providers, government, and others are taking and may take to recognize and support family caregivers

Action Steps:

three people, one female, one male, one male using wheelchairHome and Community Based Services

Reps. Scanlon (D-PA) and Emmer (R-MN) introduced the Isaiah Baker and Margie Harris-Austin Act (HR 5443) to extend reimbursement of DSP services while a person receiving HCBS is in the hospital. This addresses a longstanding challenge in the 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver program that prevents individuals with disabilities and seniors who go to the hospital from bringing with them the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who know them best to provide them with the support they rely on. The legislation brings 1915(c) in line with other HCBS authorities by allowing payment for DSPs to provide personal assistance and other services when the individual they support has a short-term stay in an acute care hospital. A Senate companion bill is expected to be introduced soon.

 Plain language:

  • This bill helps disabled people who have a hospital visit to have a direct support professional there to provide supports they need.

 What this means to you:

  • This legislation will make a big difference in the lives of people with disabilities and seniors who rely on these services. DSPs and the people they support build relationships and familiarity that can play a crucial role in avoiding unnecessary trauma during hospital stays.

 Action Step:

  • Contact your members of Congress to sign on as co-sponsor: United States Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

DOT logoTransportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued new proposed rules for public comment to improve restroom access for passengers with disabilities on single-aisle aircraft. The proposed regulation calls for limited improvements to lavatory interiors, enhanced criteria for onboard wheelchairs, and training of flight attendants. It is based on a negotiated rulemaking undertaken by DOT's Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation, which included aviation industry representations and disability rights advocates. Comments on DOT's proposal are due by March 2, 2020.

Plain language:

  • The government wants to hear from you about making airplanes more accessible.

 What this means to you:  

  • These proposed rules could change the airline travel experiences for people with disabilities by improving bathrooms on planes, onboard wheelchairs when using the restrooms, and training to flight attendants on new accessibility features.

 Action Step:

Green logo for House Committee on Energy and Commerce with congressional dome and E&C underneathHealthcare

Last week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing on "Legislation to Improve Americans' Health Care Coverage and Outcomes." The BENES Act (HR 2477) and the Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act (HR 3935) were among the pieces of legislation the Committee heard testimony on.

Plain Language:

  • Congress had a hearing (or public meeting) on bills to improve heath care in America.

What this means to you:  

  • The various pieces of legislation considered by the Subcommittee would impact people with disabilities and their access and coverage to health care and health outcomes.

Action Step:

  • Contact your Members of Congress about your health care issues addressed in this hearing: United States Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.


A coalition of 20 states is asking the Supreme Court for an expedited review of a recent lower court ruling that declared portions of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. In December, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans declared the requirement that every American have health insurance to be unconstitutional, but left other parts of the law intact and sent the case back to a lower court judge in Texas for review, the same judge who already decided once to throw out the entire law. The coalition - in addition to contesting the recent ruling - is hoping for a review by November, arguing that the consequences of the case are too important and far-reaching to be decided by a lower court over several months or years. 

Plain Language:

  • A part of the Affordable Care Act that says everyone has to have healthcare is being questioned in the courts. Twenty states are asking the Supreme Court to get an answer faster.

What this means to you:

  • The Fifth Circuit Court's decision could still lead to millions of Americans losing their health care.

Action Steps:

  • Read the disability community's Amicus Brief. (Amicus briefs are legal documents filed in court cases by interested members of the community. The briefs advise the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider which can have significant impact on judicial decision-making.)

gavelPublic Charge

Last week, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stay the nationwide injunction. That means that DHS cannot implement the public charge rule anywhere during the appeals (despite the 9th and 4th Circuits granting the stay of the other nationwide injunctions). It is possible that DHS will try to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.

Plain language:

  • The public charge rule cannot happen at this time. Public charge means someone who would depend on the government for support. The new rule would stop some of those people from getting benefits.

What this means to you:  

  • This is positive news for immigrants with disabilities and their families.

Action Steps:

Department of Education logo Education

Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced an initiative to examine the possible inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in our nation's schools. As a part of this initiative, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has partnered with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to support teachers, school leaders, parents, and stakeholders as they work to address the behavioral needs of children with disabilities. OCR and OSERS released the webinar, Students with Disabilities and the Use of Restraint and Seclusion in K-12 Public Schools, as technical assistance to both support children with disabilities - and support the needs of those within school systems serving students.

Plain Language:

  • The government released a video on using restraint and seclusion (or physical and emotional abuse) on students with disabilities.

What this means to you:

  • This is a resource on how federal laws apply to the use of restraint and seclusion. OCR and OSERS will continue to seek ways to support schools to improve outcomes for children with disabilities and ensure access to technical assistance and available resources.

Action Steps:

capitol dome

Congressional Openings

  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) resigned at the end of 2019 due to health issues. Georgia's Governor appointed a replacement, Republican Kelly Loeffler, who will serve through the November 2020 election. Loeffler will be the first woman representing Georgia in the Senate in almost 100 years -- and the first to hold the seat for longer than a day.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) officially submitted his resignation last week to leave Congress on Jan. 13th. He pleaded guilty in federal court in December to misusing campaign funds, and he'll be sentenced in March. His California seat will remain vacant until 2021, as Gov. Gavin Newsom opted not to call a special election.

checklistCampaign 2020

Author Marianne Williamson has dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.

Billionaire Tom Steyer became the sixth candidate to qualify for tomorrow's Democratic presidential debate. He will join former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on the debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa.

DPSDisability Policy Seminar

Registration is now open for the Disability Policy Seminar and the AUCD Emerging Leaders Policy Forum.  Learn more information about the events.

You do need to register for both events if you plan to attend the Sunday AUCD Policy Forum before DPS.

JPK fellowshipKennedy Policy Fellowship

The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation Public Policy Fellowship, a 1yr intensive immersion experience in Washington DC for emerging leaders in the area of inclusive community supports for people with intellectual & developmental disabilities is accepting application Read the guidelines and application. DUE THIS WEEK!

AUCD Policy Talklogo of AUCD Policy Talk


Happy #ADA30! Check out our new Policy Talk blog on what the ADA means to an AUCD emerging leader. As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, what does the ADA mean to you? Share your story on AUCD Policy Talk!

Action Steps:

AUCD logoLove Policy? We do too!

Check out AUCD's new policy resource, a one-page fact sheet to help explain AUCD's policy efforts, and engage with us today!


Tuesdays With Liz

Speaking Up with 2019 AUCD Video Contest Winner Taylor Carley

Sometimes it takes awhile to find your voice. Winner of the 2019 AUCD Video Contest, Taylor Carley, talks about his YouTube series, Chit Chat Thursdays with Taylor, which he started after seeing Tuesdays with Liz! Taylor is an Emerging Leader from the Mississippi UCEDD.


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