AUCD Legislative News InBrief

March 24, 2008

Congressional Schedule

Congress is on recess and will return Monday, March 31.  While Members in their home districts, it is a good time to meet with them.  Last week AUCD sent an action alert to the network, highlighting five key issues:


1)      Urging members of Congress to pass a budget resolution, support the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill when it comes to the floor later this year, and support the highest level of funding possible for UCEDDs, LENDs, DDRCs, and other important programs that support individuals with disabilities and their families.

2)      Urging House members to co-sponsor H.R. 5613 which would place a one-year moratorium on seven Medicaid regulations (see below for more information).

3)      Urging Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Expanding the Promise for Individuals with Autism Act of 2007 (S.937/ H.R. 1881).

4)      Urging Members of Congress to co-sponsor the ADA Restoration Act (S. 1881/ H.R. 3195).

5)      Urging Congress to reach an agreement on the Mental Health Parity Bill (S. 558/ H.R. 1424) that provides the strongest possible provisions at this time for equitable coverage of mental health. 


For more information or to take action please visit the AUCD Action Center:  Sample letters are provided.


UCEDD/LEND Funding Letter

AUCD is pleased to report that 23 Representatives signed onto a letter written by Reps. Langevin (D-RI) and Ramstad (R-MN) supporting the highest possible funding levels for the UCEDD and LEND programs.  The letter was sent to Rep. Obey (D-WI), Chair, and Rep. Lewis (R-CA), Ranking Minority Member of the House Appropriations Committee.  The final letter is linked to the appropriations section of AUCD's policy page at If your Representative signed on, please take a moment to thank him/her.  Feel free to use AUCD's action center to email the thank you note.


NIH Funding Letter

A Dear Colleague letter to appropriators urging a 6.5% increase for the National Institutes on Health (NIH) in FY09 received an amazing 179 bipartisan signatures from Representatives.  The letter was sent to Chairman Obey and Ranking Minority member Lewis last week. NIH was funded at $29 billion in FY08.  The President requested level funding for FY 09, which represents the sixth consecutive year that the NIH budget has failed to keep pace with biomedical inflation.  In the five years through 2008, a series of nominal increases and cuts has amounted to flat funding for NIH, and NIH has lost approximately 11% in purchasing power due to inflation.  The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, of which AUCD is a member, has proposed $31.1 billion for NIH, an increase of $1.9 billion over the FY 2008 funding level.  The final sign on letter is linked to the IDDRC section of AUCD's website.



Last week AUCD sent a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Murphy (R-PA) in support of H.R. 5613 which would impose a one year moratorium on the seven Medicaid regulations recently issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The bill would prohibit CMS from taking action to implement these regulations until April of 2009. The regulations include CMS regulations limiting Medicaid payments for: targeted case management services, rehabilitation services, school-based transportation and outreach services, governmental providers, provider taxes, and hospital outpatient services.  Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) is expected to introduce a similar bill in the Senate shortly after the recess, which will include the seven Medicaid regulations and the CMS directive on SCHIP issued last year that limits the ability of states to provide coverage to children in families about 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.  Last week, First Focus issued a brief by Sara Rosenbaum, Chair of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, regarding the impact of CMS regulations and administrative changes in Medicaid and SCHIP on children with special health care needs:


No Child Left Behind

On March 18 Secretary Spellings announced a pilot program that would ease the "pass-fail" system for schools that just missed the adequate yearly progress goals under NCLB. Ten states will have the opportunity to apply for the waiver that would require them to chart progress over time. Additionally, the "differentiated accountability" program would allow states to become creative in how they address their lowest performing schools through improved assessment procedures, timely dissemination of progress, and building capacity. The new policy is in response to the rising number of failing schools, and states have complained that the law imposes the same set of sanctions, which can escalate to a school's closing, on the nation's worst schools as well as those doing a reasonable job despite some problems.  The policy announcement has received mixed reviews.  The full press announcement from ED is on AUCD's website at:  AUCD is currently analyzing the new policy in terms of how it might impact students with disabilities.