AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 20, 2009

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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate returned from their two week recess.  The schedule between now and the Memorial Day recess is packed.  Congress still has to work out differences between House and Senate budget bills. Health Committee leaders also plan to move quickly on health care reform bills with a goal of introducing bills in May.  This week the health committees are holding several hearings and roundtables on health care reform.  Congressional leaders are also talking about trying again to move immigration overhaul as well as big ticket items like energy policy and dealing with global warming.  They are also trying to make time on the House and Senate floors to pass hate crimes legislation (HR 1592), a tobacco bill (HR 1256), credit card consumer rights (HR 627), predatory lending practices (HR 1728), and DC voting rights. 

FY 2010 Budget and Appropriations

Just before the recess, the House and Senate passed separate budget resolutions that now have to be reconciled.  The major differences are over discretionary spending levels and whether or not to use reconciliation to help pass health care reform.  Meanwhile, the President's detailed budget proposal is now scheduled to be released the week of May 4, instead of the original mid-April goal.  Regardless of whether a final budget is passed, House Appropriations Chair Obey (D-WI) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Inouye (D-HI) plan to begin marking up appropriations bills as early as May or June. 

Health Care Reform

Things are moving rapidly in the Senate on health care reform.  HELP Committee staff are working toward a deadline of May 28 to have a bill introduced.  The Finance Committee is holding three congressional round tables this week and next.  Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is aiming to find consensus with Republican members as well as health care and the insurance industry in writing health care legislation. The roundtables will serve as hearings for the draft conceptual bill.  Chairman of the HELP Committee Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is working closely with Chairman Baucus and will author complimentary legislation. Staff are working feverishly on drafting the bills to meet deadlines they have been given.  

AUCD staff met with staff of Sen. Harkin (D-IA) last week to educate them about prevention, wellness, health disparity and training of professionals within health care reform.  AUCD has also been meeting with health committees, in coalition with aging and disability groups, to discuss the need to include long term care reform within the larger health care reform bills. AUCD also signed on with a hundred national advocacy organizations supporting the further study and addressing health disparities as part of health care reform. 

Obama Administration Briefings

AUCD has participated in several White House briefings over the past two weeks. Last week, President Michael Gamel McCormick represented the Association at a White House briefing with senior level officials. The purpose of the briefing was to provide national disability leaders information about the progress of the Obama Administration's disability agenda.  Topics covered included the Administration's disability agenda as well as an update on the federal budget and Recovery Act implementation.  Obama Administration officials asked that the disability community continue to provide input to the Obama Administration.  They emphasized the intent to integrate disability not only in disability specific legislation and policies but in all federal policies.  AUCD staff also represented CCD at a White House briefing on the federal stimulus/Recovery Act.  Much of the information provided at the briefing has been made available on the website. Staff also participated in a meeting at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Disability with Kareem Dale, the Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.  Mr. Dale outlined some of the Administration's immediate disability priorities.  They include the UN Convention on Disability Rights; employment for individuals with disabilities; education, including enforcing the IDEA; and making appointments to the new Administration.  He also outlined some of the accomplishments to date including the signing of SCHIP, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act, and lifting the ban on stem cell research.  Mr. Dale will also be presenting at the upcoming Disability Policy Seminar.

Cabinet Nominations

Senate action is expected on President Obama's nomination of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote Tuesday on the nomination followed by expected confirmation by the full senate.

HHS Office on Disability

Henry Claypool has been appointed director of the Office on Disability at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr. Claypool has experience developing and implementing disability policy at the federal, state, and local levels. He was senior adviser at the Office on Disability and Income Support Programs at the Social Security Administration.  He has also served as senior adviser for disability policy to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He also has personal experience with the nation's health care system from the perspective of an individual with a disability.  Mr. Claypool currently serves as the Policy Director at Independence Care System.  He was also a member of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). As Director of the Office on Disability, Mr. Claypool will serve as the primary advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on disability policy and will oversee the implementation of all HHS programs and initiatives pertaining to individuals with disabilities, including AUCD network programs.

Disability Policy Seminar

Over 500 participants have registered for the Disability Policy Seminar April 27-29.  An exciting agenda is being planned.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) will address seminar participants on Tuesday.  To see a list of participants registered from your state: click here.  It is very important to schedule visits with Members of Congress prior to arriving at the seminar.  Fact sheets on key disability issues prepared for the Disability Policy Seminar are now online.  It is a good idea to read through the fact sheets prior to attending the seminar.  Those not attending are also encouraged to use the fact sheets in your advocacy efforts with Members when they are at home or through phone and email contacts.         

AUCD will host a Trainee Reception after the conclusion of the first day of the Seminar.  During this 2-hour event, AUCD staff, Board Leadership, and Center Directors will welcome trainees and share stories of how the AUCD network played a part in their leadership trajectory and the importance of policy involvement in their work.  Online registration has now closed. However, individuals may still register on site.