AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 16, 2009

House Economic Stimulus Measure Released

The House Appropriations Committee announced the details of their $825 billion economic recovery package, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009" yesterday, Jan. 15. The Senate is likely to introduce its version next week and committees will begin "marking up" the bills. Both bills are being developed on in close cooperation with the incoming Obama Administration. However, Republican leaders have criticized the amount of spending being considered and want the package to focus more on tax proposals.

In addition to $275 billion in tax cuts, the House bill, entitled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will provide $550 billion for domestic programs intended to stimulate the economy, job growth and assist state and local governments deal with rising deficits. A substantial amount of this new spending will be available to protect and possibly expand disability services.  Among the most critical increases to disability programs are:

  • $87 billion for an increased federal Medicaid match (FMAP)
  • $13 billion for IDEA Part B State Grants 
  • $600 million for Part C of IDEA, Early Intervention
  • $500 million for the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grant
  • $200 million for Centers for Independent Living:
  • $4.2 billion total for a one time $450 (individuals)/$630 (couples) payment to all SSI recipients
  • $900 million to improve the Social Security Administration claims process and computerization upgrades
  • $6.5 billion for several low income housing initiatives

The first committee markups of the bill are expected next week. Congressional leaders are pushing to adopt a bill by the President's Day recess (Feb. 16 - Feb. 20). 

AUCD has just begun analyzing the bill.  Below are some of the details about portions that impact people with disabilities. A complete summary and more detailed report from House Appropriations Chairman Obey (D-WI) are linked to AUCD's website at:

Medicaid and Health
Approximately $157.5 billion of the economic recovery plan would go towards health related initiatives.  Of this amount, $87 billion is proposed for a temporary increase in the federal share of Medicaid (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, FMAP).  This will assist with preventing cuts in services and eligibility within states.  Advocates had asked for approximately $125 billion.  However, this is a significant and much larger than the amount provided during a previous economic downturn.  In addition, the moratorium on Medicaid regulations is extended through the end of the fiscal year, until October 1, 2009.

 In addition to Medicaid, funding is provided to extend employer-based health insurance health through COBRA for individuals who lose their jobs beyond 18 months and for the federal government to assist individuals with the costs so they maintain insurance.  Funding is provided for health information technology.  Approximately $1.1 billion is provided for comparative effectiveness research, $1.5 billion is allocated for community mental health centers, and $3 billion is provided for a health and wellness programs, primarily within CDC. 

The recovery package includes significant funding for education, including $13 billion for the IDEA State Grant Program; $600 million for the IDEA Part C Early Intervention Program; $20 billion to renovate and modernize schools; $1 billion for education technology; $300 million for teacher and administrator incentives and to address teacher shortages; and $2.1 billion to provide services to 110,000 additional children through Head Start.

 According the Congressional Quarterly, a Hill news source, the proposal would include $15 billion over two years for bonus grants to states that are "doing the best job of making progress in meeting the basic goals of No Child Left Behind." The distribution of the grants would be left to the discretion of the secretary of Education. But the draft bill indicates that the grants would be given to states that are working to achieve equity in teacher distribution, establishing data systems that can track student performance, or trying to enhance the quality of academic assessments for English language learners and students with disabilities. The bill would include $250 million for states to develop statewide systems capable of tracking individual student data over time.

The legislation also includes up to $650 million to be placed in an "Innovation Fund" to distribute grants to states and local education agencies that the secretary of Education deems should serve as models for best practices that could be "taken to scale." This concept is a key priority for Arne Duncan, Obama's designee for secretary of Education.

The bill contains $4.5 billion in new funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and Employment Services (ES).  For the Vocational Rehabilitation program that provides job training and placement for persons with disabilities, the bill provides $500 million for the Title I grants. Four billion is dedicated to adult, youth and dislocated worker training.

The National Institutes of Health would receive a $3 billion boost over two years.  According to the committee report, $1.5 billion would be dedicated to the Office of the Director, of which half ($750 million) is not available until October 1, 2009. Funds are to be transferred to the ICs and the common fund "in proportion to the appropriations otherwise made to such Institutes, Centers, and Common fund for fiscal year 2009".Approximately $1.5 billion is provided to renovate or repair existing non-Federal research facilities. These funds may also be used for "shared instrumentation and other capital research equipment."  Approximately $500 million is provided for intramural buildings and facilities. In addition, AHRQ gets $700 million for comparative effectiveness research. Of that amount, $400 million is to be transferred to the NIH/OD the NIH funds may be transferred to the ICs and common fund for comparative effectiveness research.