AUCD Legislative News InBrief

December 16, 2008

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate have adjourned and will reconvene on January 3, 2009.


Health Care Reform

The workgroup convened by Senator Kennedy (D-MA) continues to meet with a goal of having a health care bill ready to be introduced early next year.  It was announced today that Senator Bingaman (D-NM) will replace Senator Clinton (D-NY) as head of the insurance working group due to her nomination for Secretary of State.  Senator Mikulski (D-MD) is leading the quality workgroup.  Senator Harkin (D-IA) is leading the workgroup on prevention.  Last week Harkin held a HELP Committee hearing on prevention.  The AUCD workgroup on health care reform prepared recommendations on disability and prevention that were submitted to his health care staff and to CCD for a coalition letter.  Jeff Crowley from the Georgetown Health Policy Institute prepared an excellent brief that highlights many policy options that can be considered for individuals with disabilities in health care reform.  This brief is available on the Health Care policy section of the AUCD website. 


Transition Activities

AUCD Board President Michael Gamel-McCormick and executive director, George Jesien, will represent the association at a meeting tomorrow with representatives of the Obama transition team, along with several other national disability organizations.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the transition and broad policy issues. The meeting will be with Kareem Dale, disability coordinator/liaison in the Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs Department for President-elect Obama's transition team and Sharon Lewis, a member of the Education Agency Review Team.  The other organizations that will participate are Brain Injury Association of America, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Mental Health America, NAMI, American Psychological Association, Easter Seals, National Disability Rights Network, and National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.


In other transition news, the various Transition Agency Review Teams met with different task forces of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to discuss the organization and effectiveness of federal agencies that oversee federal disability programs.  According to agency review team volunteers, the teams are finishing their reviews now and hope to complete their final reports by the end of this month.


New Appointments

Last week, former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-SD) was officially nominated to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Jeanne Lambrew, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, will serve as Deputy Director of the White House office.  She previously worked on health care under the Clinton Administration.  Shaun Donovan was nominated to be the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 


House Committee Assignments

Names of eight new members being appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee were announced last week.  New members include Bruce Braley (D-IA), Kathy Castor (D-MD),  Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Betty Sutton (D-OH), Zack Space (D-OH), and Donna M.C. Christensen (D-VI).  Edolphus Towns of New York to chair the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; he agreed to take a two-year leave of absence from the Energy and Commerce panel.  The Energy and Commerce Committee hold jurisdiction over Medicaid and the DD Act.  Five new members were announced for the House Ways and Means Committee: Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Bob Etheridge (D-NC), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Brian Higgins (D-NY), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).  Representatives Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and John Salazar (D-CO) were announce for the Appropriations Committee. 


Education/No Child Left Behind

According to a recent Congressional Quarterly report, education policy experts say it will likely be at least a year before a reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act occurs, in part because President-elect Barack Obama's administration has placed a priority on economic recovery and health care reform, and in part because no true consensus has been reached on how to do it.  According to some Hill staff, House Education Chairman Miller and Senate HELP Committee Chairman Kennedy agree on basic principles for revising the law, such as requiring more rigorous standards from some states, providing support for teacher preparation and retention, exploring the use of growth models and allowing for greater differentiation in the labeling of schools.  However, getting all Democrats to agree on the details of the 700 page law will be difficult, the aides say. 


AUCD staff are participating in a two day meeting to examine growth models as a means for measuring student's progress.  The meeting was convened by the National Center for Learning Disabilities to bring together experts in growth models to discuss and develop joint policy recommendations on including growth models as part of the accountability system for all students in preparation of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.


For information on the No Child Left Behind Act and the disability community's policy recommendations, see AUCD public policy website.



AUCD Legislative Affairs staff provided a policy update for participants at the annual meeting of the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Center (IDDRC) Association last week.  The written report and Powerpoint will be posted on the DDRCA website.  Participants discussed strategies for strengthening the network and possible new research collaborations.  The group also met with NICHD Director Duane Alexander, NICHD Branch Chief Melissa Parisi and other NICHD staff.