AUCD Legislative News InBrief

September 22, 2008

Congressional Schedule

Congress is expected to adjourn as earlier as Friday of week.  There is a busy agenda that includes work on taxes, energy legislation, mental health parity, possibly a second economic stimulus, and a continuing resolution (CR) on appropriations.  Congress may consider a short-term CR until after the elections or a longer CR that goes into the next Administration. 


ADA Amendments Act

On September 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the revised version of the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) by unanimous consent.  Last Thursday the Senate passed the same version, S. 3406 which paves the way for the final step, to the President's desk for his signature.  Later that day, over one hundred civil rights and disability advocates joined the business community and members of congress on the Capital steps to urge President Bush to sign the ADAAA into law. The ADA Amendments Act, put forward by an alliance consisting of employers, civil rights and disability advocates, has strong bicameral and bipartisan support for a legislative fix. The bill corrects narrow court interpretations that have restricted ADA protections in the workplace and the definition of who qualifies as an individual with a disability. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law this week, possibly during a closed signing ceremony Thursday.



Over the past year, AUCD worked within a large coalition to enacted moratoria on six of seven harmful Medicaid regulations.  This was attached to the Iraq War Supplemental.  The one Medicaid regulation not included in the moratorium was the one on outpatient regulation.  Most states have not analyzed the impact of this Rule. However, New York State just completed an analysis on clinics alone and estimated a loss of approximately $500 million per year, including a $2.4 million cut to the Westchester Institute for Human Development (NY UCEDD).  Last week AUCD signed on a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to try to include a moratorium for this Rule in either the Continuing Resolution for appropriations or an economic second stimulus bill.  Senators Schumer (D-NY) and Clinton (D-NY) also sent a letter to CMS urging the Administration not to issue the final rule.  AUCD sent out an action alert to the network last week urging individuals to: 1) contact their members of Congress and support the enactment of a moratorium on the rule; 2) ask Governors, state legislators and state Medicaid agencies to complete a fiscal impact analysis of the Rule; 3) contact CMS and the President and urge them to not implement a final outpatient regulation.


Mental Health Parity

Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) joined members of congress and the various advocacy organizations at a rally on September 17 to urge for the passage of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (H.R.1424/S.558). While the passage of the parity legislation is still priority for this congress how to pay for it is still an issue. The Senate has expressed concerns over the spending offset proposed by the House. The offset would bar referrals to specialty hospitals which would in-turn save Medicare money. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Kay Hutchison (R-TX) stated that the specialty hospital offset is a problem.  The House is expected to vote on the compromise mental health parity agreement as a stand-alone bill under suspension of the rules as soon as Sept. 23, which would require a two-thirds vote for passage. The original House parity bill (H.R. 1424) passed the House in March by a 268-148 vote.


Health Care Reform

Last week Senator Kennedy (D-MA) met by video conference with HELP Committee staff to begin strategizing on bi-partisan efforts for health care reform next year.  Senator Kennedy gave marching orders to have a bill ready to go the day after the new Administration takes office.   Earlier this year, Kennedy recruited John McDonough, executive director of Health Care for All in Massachusetts, to lead the effort.  AUCD staff attended a briefing last week with McDonough. 


Global Education Summit

Last week AUCD staff attended the Global Summit on Education: Inclusive Practices for Students with Disabilities sponsored by the Department of Education.  Many researchers from AUCD network were invited to attend and present at the summit.  Secretary Spellings addressed the audience and announced grants for innovative, effective tests for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency.  Tim Shriver from Special Olympics led an insightful panel discussion among students with disabilities from the US and abroad about the status of inclusion and the long road ahead.  Related to some of the key issues raised by students, and in response to the movie Tropic Thunder, Special Olympics has launched a new campaign against the use of the "R-word."  More information about the campaign is at the following link:


AUCD Disability Policy Fellowship

AUCD is now accepting applications for the 2009 Disability Policy Fellowship. The purpose of this year-long fellowship is to offer a significant experience in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and association administration.  Staff working for at least 2-5 years at a network program, or graduate trainees who are completing their training program are eligible for the position.  Applications are due September 29, 2008 and the position will be filled early in 2009.  More information is on the AUCD website at the following link: