AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 20, 2009

Health Reform and Long-Term Services and Supports

Last week, the Senate HELP Committee completed its work on the Affordable Health Choices Act.  The final bill was approved by the Committee on a party line vote.  Meanwhile, the House released its health reform bill last week and completed mark up of the bill in two of the three committees -Education and Labor and Ways and Means.   The Energy and Commerce Committee began its mark up on Thursday.   In his opening statement Representative Doyle (D-PA) stated that he would have trouble voting for a bill that did not contain autism treatment insurance reform.  On Friday, the Committee considered an omnibus amendment offered by Representative Pallone (D-NJ) that contained a shell of the CLASS Act.  After Republican opposition, the amendment was withdrawn but is expected to be reintroduced Monday.  

On July 18th, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an updated score of the House Tri-Committee Bill. This new cost assessment states that the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 will not only pay for itself in a ten-year window, but will actually bring in a surplus of $6 billion. This deficit neutral score is exciting news for supporters of the health care reform bill, which had been previously criticized by House Republicans and the conservative 'Blue Dog' Democrats for costing too much.

Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization
Dr. William Kiernan, Director of the Institute for Community Inclusion (MA UCEDD) testified at the July 16 Workforce Investment Act (WIA) reauthorization hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Employment Subcommittee . Dr. Kiernan discussed what is working and what needs to be improved in order to assist people with disabilities in obtaining and retaining jobs in the community. A link to the AUCD press release as well as Dr. Kiernan's full testimony is available on the AUCD website.

Executive Appointments

President Obama nominated Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, an Alabama family physician who served for almost two decades as one of the few doctors in a shrimping village along the Gulf Coast, for U.S. surgeon general on July 13. President Obama noted that as "America's doctor" Dr. Benjamin will have a voice in health care reform.

Hate Crimes

The Senate may vote on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (HCPA) today after voting on several Republican amendments designed to "kill" the bill.  AUCD signed on to a civil rights coalition letter urging passage of the Act without any weakening or detrimental amendments. For more information see the AUCD Action Center.

Office of Personnel Management Confirmation

On July 16 Christine Griffin confirmation hearing to become the Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management took place before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. If confirmed, Ms. Griffin will be leading a federal government wide initiative for the Obama Administration to improve the representation of people with disabilities in the federal workforce.

ARRA Education Funding

AUCD staff attended a briefing on the spending of IDEA ARRA funding on July 13.  This briefing was sponsored by the Mitsubishi Electric America and Tremaine Foundations. The briefing focused on IDEA ARRA funding and highlighted the key issues and opportunities within this unique funding opportunity. As a result of this opportunity a website has been created, Smart Money, Wise Choices, to help organizations find funding opportunities within the ARRA.

National Endowment of the Arts Webinar

A webinar event hosted supported by the National Endowment of the Art will focus on careers in the Arts for individuals with disabilities.  This live event takes place at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. July 22-24 and several sessions will be made available by webinar and archived for future use.  This event is a timely addition to the national debate on employment and the challenges that individuals with disabilities face is securing quality and meaningful employment opportunities. More information is available on the National Endowment for the Arts website.

National Conference of State Legislatures

AUCD will be exhibiting and presenting at the upcoming National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit.  Nathan Blum, Ph.D. Director of the PA LEND has been invited to speak at an opening plenary the latest research in developmental disabilities.  AUCD will be co-exhibiting with the Pennsylvania Institute on Disabilities/UCEDD.  AUCD will also be hosting with Easter Seals a panel presentation on federal and state initiatives on autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  David Mitchell, Ph.D. Director of the PA UCDDD at Temple University will also participate on the panel.  The NCSL summits attract approximately 6,000 state legislators and their staff for committee meetings and presentations.  Please encourage your state legislators to attend this session on July 21.  For more information, contact Kim Musheno.