AUCD Legislative News In Brief

August 17, 2009

Health Care

Congress is in recess until September 8. House staffers are working to merge the three versions of the health care reform bill that emerged from the Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor committees. Staffers will also have to merge their work with a second bill from the Energy and Commerce Committee, which now plans to meet next month to consider amendments that members did not address before the August recess.  House leaders today announced that they will not vote on a House bill until at least the end of September.  Over the weekend, the Obama Administration appeared to back away from its commitment to a public option, which may also complicate negotiations.  Finance Committee staff continue to work on their bipartisan bill with the goal of markup in mid-September.  August has become a critical time for health care, with large and small interest groups trying to sway public opinion one way or the other through the media, town hall meetings, and other grassroots tactics. New fact sheets, side by sides, and action alerts are available on the AUCD website to try to help educate the network and the public about how the current House and Senate proposals impact people with disabilities.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

AUCD joined with millions of others around the world in mourning the loss of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died on August 11, 2009.  According to press reports, she had suffered a series of strokes recently.  The AUCD network owes its very existence to Mrs. Shriver's concerted efforts with others such as Dr. Robert Cooke to establish research, interdisciplinary training, and model service centers in top flight universities around the country. In the early 1960s, Mrs. Shriver helped her brother President John F. Kennedy to develop recommendations for legislation (P.L. 88-164 and P.L. 88-156) that resulted in the development of University Affiliated Facilities, which have evolved into multiple national networks including the 15 Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs), the 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD); and the 38 interdisciplinary clinical training programs for children with special health care needs under Title V of the Social Security Act, which have evolved into the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs.  A tribute to Mrs. Shiver can be found on the AUCD website.  To read remembrances of others and share your own at a website recently established to honor Mrs. Shriver's legacy, go to

NIH Director

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. today became the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 8, and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7. Dr. Collins, 59, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, served as director of NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993-2008. Dr. Collins received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University, and an M.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., who has served as acting NIH director since mid-October, will return to his role as NIH principal deputy director. More information about Dr. Collins is available at

Direct Support Workforce

The Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 228 designating the week beginning September 14 as "National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week."   Sponsored by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), the resolution recognizes the invaluable supports direct support professionals (DSPs) provide and the difference this workforce makes in the lives of Americans with disabilities.

AUCD Policy Fellowship

AUCD is seeking applicants for the policy fellowship, a yearlong opportunity for mid-level career network members and LEND trainees, to contribute to the field of disability policy at the national level.  Activities include but are not limited to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and association administration.  A full description and application instructions are located on the AUCD website.  Applications are currently being accepted.  The position will be open until filled.