AUCD Legislative News InBrief

September 17, 2007


With the end of fiscal year 2007 only two weeks away, there are rumors that House and Senate Democrats are developing a continuing resolution that would extend funding of federal programs, possibly up to November 16, which would allow more time to work on conference agreements on remaining appropriations bills.  The Senate has passed only four of twelve annual appropriations bills. The House passed all twelve.   The FY 08 Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3043) passed in the House prior to the August recess.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet been debated by the full Senate.



In another development potentially affecting the appropriations process, the nomination of former Representative Jim Nussle (R-IA) as Office of Management and Budget Director has been approved by the Senate on a vote of 69-24.  Nussle will be the point man for negotiations with Congress over spending bills, which has demonstrated a willingness in several of the appropriations bills to exceed the President's proposed discretionary spending limits.



With time running out and Senate Republicans blocking a formal conference committee, House and Senate staff are negotiating details of a deal on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in efforts to reauthorize the program before expiring on September 30.  The disability community strongly supports the Medicare and Medicaid disability provisions in the House version.   A summary of the disability provisions in the House bill is at the following link:

Of particular importance are provisions that would place a one-year moratorium to prevent the Administration from implementing recent proposed rules to cur certain Medicaid rehabilitation services and school-based transportation and administration services (see below).  A key issue in the debate is whether or not to include the broader Medicare changes and physician payments in the SCHIP bill.  Senate Finance Chairman Baucus (D-MT) has said that he wants to address the physicians' fees and other Medicare reforms separately from SCHIP.  A compromise bill would likely look more like the Senate bill.   The disability community is being urged to contact members of Congress and advocate for inclusion of the disability provision in the final SCHIP bill.   AUCD has prepared an action alert on SCHIP and the disability provisions at the following link:


Also on SCHIP, last week Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Smith (R-OR) sent a letter to President Bush signed by 44 senators, including five Republican Senators.  The letter asks the President to withdraw a recent rule that places new requirements on states that cover children in families with incomes above 250% above the federal poverty line.  The rule would require states to prove that 95% of all children under 200% of the poverty level are covered under the State Children's Health Insurance Program before they can offer coverage to children at higher income levels.  It also would require children above 250% of the poverty level to be uninsured for at least a year before qualifying for SCHIP coverage.  These requirements would make it extremely difficult for states to serve children above the 250% level. 



On Friday, September 7, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on Elimination of Reimbursement Under Medicaid for School Administration Expenditures and Costs Related to Transportation of School-Age Children Between Home and School.  Under the proposed rule, federal Medicaid payments would no longer be available for administrative activities performed by school employees or contractors, or anyone under the control of a public or private educational institution.  In addition, federal Medicaid payment would no longer be available for transportation from home to school and back for school-aged children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or an Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP).  The NPRM is located at:  Comments are due November 6.  AUCD is working with CCD to provide comments as well a broad advocacy strategy to oppose this proposed rule and the proposed rule on rehabilitation services.  Provisions contained in the House SCHIP bill would place a one year moratorium preventing the rules from being implemented.  The CCD Health and Long Term Services Task Forces sent a letter to Committee leaders and all members on the Committees of jurisdiction in support of the House SCHIP bill.              


No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

AUCD signed on to CCD Education Task Force comments and legislative suggestions for Titles II through XI of the House Education and Labor discussion draft of legislation to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.  A copy of the suggestions are at the following link: . Comments on Title I were submitted separately last week. 



Last week Marty Ford, Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, was invited to speak on long-term care services with democratic senators at a steering and outreach committee meeting.    She spoke on Medicaid issues and urged support of the Community Living Services and Supports (CLASS Act).    


Direct Support Professionals

Last week over 300 direct support professionals from 35 states traveled to DC to hold a rally at the Capitol and do Hill visits with House members gain support of the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act, H.R. 1279.  The rally was organized by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), The Arc, UCP, and Lutheran Social Services.  At the rally, Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) encouraged the crowd to keep telling their stories.   The hill visits have already resulted in 4 new co-sponsors and more are expected.  AUCD has created an Action Alert to contact members and urge them to support the bill:


Emergency Management

The new disability coordinator for FEMA is Cindy Daniel, formerly of the National Organization on Disabilities and previously with a state chapter of The Arc.  The CCD Emergency Preparedness Task Force is scheduled to have a follow-up meeting with the American Red Cross on the issue of Durable Medical Equipment in mass evacuation shelter planning.  The Task Force is also providing input into a draft of the Safeguarding our Seniors Act of 2007 under development at the Special Committee on Aging. 


Vocational Rehabilitation

The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation held its third National Meeting on the Future of the Public VR Program in Virginia last week, which brought together state officials, advocates, providers and other stakeholders.  Two key issues were the focus of this meeting: Securing employment "quickly and effectively" and the definition of "most significant disability."  The CCD Employment and Training Task Force is now meeting weekly to collectively draft comments to the Senate HELP Committee on the Vocational Rehabilitation Act reauthorization bill.