AUCD Legislative News InBrief

July 30, 2007

ADA Anniversary

July 26, the 17th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, provided the opportunity for Members of Congress, the Administration and advocates to demonstrate support for policies that advance the rights and programs for individuals with disabilities. Among these events, President Bush held an invitation-only White House celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the ADA by his father George H.W. Bush in 1990.  Reps. Hoyer (D-MD) and Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Harkin (D-IA), House and Senate co-sponsors of the ADA Restoration Act, held a press conference to announce the re-introduction of the bipartisan legislation in the 110th Congress.  The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosted an event on Capitol Hill to publicly recognize congressional champions of the ADA, including Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Darden Restaurants Chairman and CEO Clarence Otis, Jr. The Department of Transportation is holding a celebration today. 


ADA Restoration Act

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the ADA Restoration Act (H.R 3195) on July 26, the anniversary of the ADA, along with 144 other co-sponsors.  AUCD members participated in a community-wide effort to urge their Representatives to be among the original co-sponsors of this legislation to show strong support for this important legislation.  Advocates and lead sponsors were very pleased with the large number of original co-sponsors the effort produced.  Later in the day, Sen. Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced a companion bill (S. 1881 - not to be confused with a House bill, H.R. 1881, that deals with autism).  The ADA Restoration Act is intended to reinstate original congressional intent regarding the definition of disability in response to certain decisions of the Supreme Court that have narrowed the class of people who can invoke the protection from discrimination the ADA provides. See AUCD's civil rights page for background and fact sheets on the ADA. Please visit the Action Center to send a prepared sample letter thanking your Representatives for supporting the measure or asking them to become a cosponsor if they haven't to date.  A separate alert is prepared to send message to your Senators to become cosponsors:


Wellness Act

Rep. Lowey (D-NY) used the ADA Anniversary date as an opportunity to introduce the Promoting Wellness for People with Disabilities Act, a companion to the Senate bill (S. 3717) introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). The bill requires the establishment of standards for accessibility for medical diagnostic equipment; issues grants that promote the health and wellness of people with disabilities; and makes changes to existing funding sources for medical education to require entities receiving funding under that program to incorporate information and training regarding treating people with disabilities into their existing training programs. A detailed section-by-section summary is posted on AUCD's website:



Chairman Dingell (D-MI) of the Energy and Commence Committee and Chairman Rangel (D-NY) of the Way and Means Committee introduced the House version of SCHIP reauthorization last week.  The Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act (H.R. 3162) goes beyond the Senate's version introduced the week before.  It would provide an additional $50 billion to maintain coverage for current children, outreach to children who are eligible but not enrolled, and provide states with a stable source of funding to cover additional children.  It would also allow states to have the option of covering children up to age 25.  In addition, there are several other key provisions that would benefit individuals with disabilities: 

  • Language was included to eliminate Medicare Part D cost-sharing for dual-eligible (Medicare and Medicaid) individuals who reside in community-based settings.  Currently, co-pays do not apply to individuals in nursing homes and institutional settings, creating an institutional bias. 
  • Also under Medicare Part D, the bill would also codify special protections for six protected drug classifications that included anti-convulsants, antidepressants and other drugs that many people with disabilities rely on.     
  • Language was included to establish a one-year moratorium preventing the Department of Health and Human Services from issuing regulations that restrict coverage or payment for rehabilitation services, or school-based administration, transportation, or medical services.  Many individuals with developmental and other disabilities rely on these services.

AUCD sent a letter of support to Chairman Dingell and Chairman Rangel and have signed onto other coalition letters.  House leadership hoped to have the bill marked up in both committees last week and a floor vote this week.  The Ways and Means Committee approved the bill.  However, Republicans in the Energy and Commerce Committee delayed action.  Republicans object to the cost of the bill ($90 billion) which it includes Medicare payment fixes for physicians.  They also object over how the bill is paid for -increases in tobacco tax and reductions in overpayments to Medicare Advantage (managed care) plans.  House leadership may bypass Committee and move the bill to the floor for a vote on Thursday.  Meanwhile, the Senate is planning to begin debate on its SCHIP bill today and call for a vote.                 


Higher Education Act

Last week the senate unanimously passed a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (S. 1642) by a vote of 95-0.  The bill contains many positive provisions for teacher preparation and projects for postsecondary opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including new projects for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The House has not yet considered a reauthorization bill this Congress.  However, both the House and Senate have passed separate student loan bills that substantially change lender subsidies and Pell grants (H.R. 2669).  The Bush administration has already threatened a veto of the House student loan bill and also issued a statement that it has grave concerns with the reauthorization bill.  Chairman Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY) have stated they would like both bills to move to conference together.  Chairman Kennedy said he has been meeting with White House officials in an effort to write a conference agreement that President Bush will sign.                   


Education/Part C Rules

AUCD signed onto the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education comments to the Department of Education regarding the proposed rules to implement Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The full ten pages of CCD comments are online at  AUCD also submitted separate comments regarding nutrition and nursing services and participated in the formulation of comments submitted on behalf of the CCD Child Abuse Prevention Task Force and the National Child Abuse Prevention Coalition (see below).


Child Abuse Prevention/Part C Rules

AUCD participated in the formulation of comments submitted on behalf of the National Child Abuse Coalition as well as those submitted on behalf of the CCD Child Abuse Task Force to the U.S. Department of Education addressing proposed rules for Part C of IDEA.  The proposed rules are intended to implement changes made in 2004 requiring that states refer every child under the age of three involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect to the IDEA Part C agency for a screening process to determine whether a referral is needed to early intervention services.  The 2004 amendments to IDEA mirror amendments made in 2003 to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requiring a referral of such children to the IDEA Part C agency for early intervention services.  The comments address two basic premises: 1) infants and toddlers involved in a substantiated case of abuse or neglect should be identified as early as possible and referred for screening for services; and 2) infants and toddlers involved in a substantiated case of abuse or neglect should receive early intervention services designed to address their unique needs.  The full CCD comments are online at


Ticket to Work and Work Incentives

AUCD attended the release the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Board Beneficiary Report.  This report was the result of a summit held in February which brought together beneficiary delegates from every state and US territory.  Many excellent recommendations are made that parallel legislative goals of AUCD and the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (e.g. ending the Medicare 2-year waiting period).  Staff from Finance Committee Chairman Baucus' (D-MT) office attended the release and expressed strong support for the report; however, cautioned about the need for finding offsets for many recommendations given the current political climate and "pay as you go" rules.  He also emphasized the pressing need for SSA administrative funding.  The report will be posted on the Advisory Panel's website: