AUCD Legislative News InBrief

October 29, 2007


On October 23, the Senate passed its FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3043) by a veto-proof margin of 75-19.  The House passed its version of the bill in June.  The next step is for a conference committee to work out the differences and present it to the President. 


The Senate bill provides $38.7, a $5.5 million increase for the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).  The House bill provides $33.2 million, a $1,000 increase for UCEDDs.  The bill contains $693 million (level funding) for the Title V Maternal & Child Health Services Block Grant.  The House bill recommended an increased funding level to $750 million for the Block Grant.  The Senate bill provides the full $37 million for autism and developmental disabilities to implement programs authorized by the Combating Autism Act within HRSA.  This includes funding expansion of activities provided by the LEND programs.  The House bill provides $30 million for these activities.  For the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the Senate bill includes $29.9 billion, an increase of $1 billion (3.5 percent) over the FY 2007 level, and $250 million over the House-passed bill.  However, the Senate and the House both adopted the Administration's proposal to increase the amount of the transfer from NIH to the Global HIV/AIDS fund from $99 million in FY 2007 to $300 million for FY 2008.  As a result, the increase over FY 2007 in the NIH program level in the Senate bill is $799 million (2.8 percent), compared to $549 million (1.9 percent) in the House bill.


November 1 is the target date for holding the House-Senate conference, with the conference report going to the House and Senate floors the week of November 5.  The President has indicated that he will veto both versions of the bill because they exceed his budget request.  House and Senate leaders are considering a plan to send the Labor-HHS and Military Construction-VA (H.R. 2642) bills in a package to President Bush by Veterans' Day, but a final decision has not been made. Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told advocates earlier this month that the Labor-HHS bill would likely be the first spending bill sent to the White House. 


There is much at stake for the AUCD network in this year's process.  If the President vetoes the bill, Congress will have to re-craft the bill cutting discretionary programs back to a level acceptable to the President.  Another option would be year-long continuing resolution that would provide level-funding to all programs under its jurisdiction, as happened last year.  AUCD is actively working with a large coalition of stakeholders led by the Coalition of Health Funding and the Coalition on Education Funding to garner support for L-HHS-ED bill, including possible efforts to override a presidential veto.  AUCD recently contributed funds to provide a week-long ad in the Congressional Quarterly urging member of Congress to support the L-HHS-ED appropriations bill as it moves forward. 


AUCD has prepared an Action Alert to thank Senators who supported the bill and ask for their continued supports:  The Coalition on Human Needs is sponsoring a webinar on the 2008 Labor-HHS-Ed Appropriations bill this Thursday, November 1, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. eastern time.  Constituents whose representatives in the House voted against the Labor-Health/Human Services-Education bill in July, or who have a network reaching those districts, are particularly encouraged to participate.  Click here to see how your House representative voted: .  The webinar will provide information on what is at stake, securing a veto-proof majority, and getting the bill passed.  Please register at:



The Senate will vote this week on a new children's health insurance bill that passed the House (H.R. 3963) last Thursday by a vote of 265-142.  However, the vote in the House again fell short of a two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a second Presidential veto.  No new support from Republican House members was gained.  The 43 Republican supporters were in the same group that voted for an earlier version of the bill and voted to override Bush's veto of that bill.  Democratic leadership attempted to negotiate with Republicans to gain support.  However, the timing of the vote upset many Republicans.  In most areas, the new bill (H.R. 3963) is identical to the previous one (H.R. 976).  Most of the changes were clarifications that reduced the possibility that illegal immigrants or adults could enroll in the program and that families would move from private insurance coverage to SCHIP. One very positive change is that the new bill extends the effective date of the moratorium on Medicaid school-based care for the disabled and rehabilitation option services from May 24, 2008 to January 1, 2010, on regulations that would deny access to these services.  It is unclear whether there will be additional changes made during the Senate debate.  If Congress is unable to override a threatened second veto by the President, Democratic leadership may consider a continuing resolution that could last until next October. The program is currently operating under a continuing resolution that is set to expire on Nov. 16.  



Senate Finance Committee members will discuss a Medicare legislative package this week to prevent a scheduled 10 percent cut in reimbursements for physicians.  A key issue in the debate is how to pay for the Medicare physician fix, particularly whether to make cuts in overpayments to Medicare Advantage (managed care) plans.  Medicare Advantage plans are paid 12 percent more, on average, than traditional Medicare providers.  The American Medical Association is launching print ads this week calling on Congress to cut all the extra payments to Medicare Advantage, which would raise roughly $50 billion over five years.  It was reported that Chairman Baucus may propose at least $8 to $12 billion in cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans as one offset, which many Republicans say is unacceptable.  Cuts in Medicare Advantage plans were originally proposed in the House SCHIP bill along with the physician fix and other Medicare provisions that would benefit individuals with disabilities.         

New Hampshire Disability Presidential Candidate Forum

Last week Senator Clinton (D-NY) confirmed her attendance at the "National Forum on Equality, Opportunity, and Access," a presidential candidates forum on disability policy scheduled for November 2 in Manchester, New Hampshire.   Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Joe Biden (D-DE) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) have also confirmed their attendance.  Organizers continue to work with other candidates to encourage attendance.  Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may provide a live video or phone hook up or send a top surrogate to represent them, a spouse or campaign manager.  AUCD has sent invitation to all presidential campaigns and encouraged network members to also urge candidates to attend.  AUCD is a co-sponsor of the event (along with 22 other national sponsors). During the forum, each candidate will have an opportunity to present his or her vision for the future of national disability policy and receive questions from an audience. Keynote addresses from Democratic and Republican leadership are also planned. The event will be webcast live beginning at 8:30AM.  More information about the webcast is at the following link:


AUCD Legislative Affairs Committee

The Legislative Affairs Committee will meet at the upcoming Annual Meeting on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m.  The Committee will also host a briefing for all members on current federal legislative issues.  The briefing is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 12 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.