AUCD Legislative News InBrief

June 2, 2008

Budget and Appropriations

Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess today and will focus this week on the war supplemental and the FY09 Budget Resolution.  Before the recess the House and Senate reached an agreement on the budget resolution and are hoping to approve it upon returning from the recess.   AUCD staff will be participating in a meeting in the Capitol today with House leadership and Budget Committee staff regarding next steps.


War Supplemental and Medicaid

Prior to adjourning for the Memorial Day recess, the Senate approved a $260 billion war supplemental bill.  The Senate bill is made up of two sections.  The first section consists of domestic spending, which includes veterans' education benefits, aid to Gulf Coast states affected by Hurricane Katrina, funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and other domestic programs.  The second section consists of $165 billion in war funds for the rest of the fiscal year and about $70 billion for part of FY09.  House Democratic leaders are deciding whether to accept the Senate package or change the measure and send it back to the Senate.  The Senate's domestic package is $10 billion above what the President requested and $1 billion over the House's plan.  Both the Senate and House war supplemental bill contain moratoria on the seven Medicaid regulations.  However, there is serious concern that these provisions could be stripped out of the final bill.  AUCD signed on a CCD letter to House and Senate leadership urging inclusion of the Medicaid moratoria.   


Family Support Appropriations

AUCD emailed an Action Alert on family support funding last week and posted it online. It urges the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees to provide increased funding for three key family support programs: 1) National Family Caregiver Support Program; 2) Lifespan Respite Care Act; and 3) Family Support Program within the DD Act.  In addition, the AUCD Council on Community Advocacy (COCA) sent a letter to all members of the House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees urging their support for adequate funding for family support.   


Webinar: Autism Legislative Update

AUCD Legislative Affairs staff will be presenting developments in federal legislation on autism spectrum disorders on a webinar sponsored by the AUCD Autism Special Interest Group (SIG) this Wednesday.  Katy Neas, Easter Seals, and Sharon Pearce, Autism Society of America, will also be presenting.  In addition, AUCD Executive Director George Jesien will provide an update on current funding announcements related to the Combating Autism Act.  For information on how to participate in this webinar, contact Kim Musheno at [email protected].


Health Care Reform

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing tomorrow entitled, "Rising Costs, Low Quality in Health Care: The Necessity for Reform."    The hearing is the second in a series of events the committee is planning leading up to anticipated healthcare reform.  The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee plans to hold a hearing Wednesday on draft health information technology legislation to encourage physicians to adopt systems for digital health records and electronic prescribing.  Full committee and subcommittee Democratic and Republican leaders proposed the draft last month.  The draft is similar to legislation long worked on by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA).  It includes a grant program to assist physicians who purchase health IT systems, codifies the office of a health information technology coordinator and directs HHS to adopt standards for the electronic exchange of information.  The House version does not include a transparency provision pushed by business and consumer groups that would make Medicare claims data on physician visits and hospitalizations available to research groups that can track trends in healthcare quality.


Disability Statistics

The Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled, "Does Federal Statistical Data Adequately Serve People Living with Disabilities?"



On May 30, 2008, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announced a notice of proposed priorities for the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program (DRRP).  The DRRP program supports projects with special emphasis on research, demonstrations, training, dissemination, utilization, and technical assistance.  The notice proposes two priorities, a Research and Technical Assistance Center on Vocational Rehabilitation Program Management and a Center on the Effective Delivery of Rehabilitation Technology by State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies to Improve Employment Outcomes. Comments regarding these proposed priorities are due on or before June 30, 2008.  For more information visit the AUCD public policy web page or click here.