AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 19, 2010

The AUCD office was closed yesterday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Congressional Schedule
The Senate will return for legislative business Wednesday to vote on a judicial nomination and begin debate on legislation to raise the debt limit. A special election for a Senate seat from Massachusetts is scheduled for today.  Later in the week, the House floor schedule includes a bill to provide tax benefits for contributions to earthquake relief in Haiti. Health care reform continues to be the main legislative priority, but Senate leaders are determined to move on to a jobs-related package in coming weeks.

State of the Union Address
President Obama's State of the Union address will be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 9 p.m. EST.  The President's address will include details on his FY11 budget and upcoming legislative priorities. 

Health Care Reform
Democratic leaders and staff in both chambers continued to work through the Martin Luther King Day weekend to reconcile the two health reform bills. The White House and President Obama have been deeply involved in the informal "conference" process. In fact, the President held hours-long meetings with Democratic leaders that resulted in key compromises on the biggest areas of disagreement between the two bills, including how to pay for the legislation. Democratic leaders have already begun sending elements of the compromise to the Congressional Budget Office for cost estimates, hoping for a quick turnaround. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) have promised to make the final bill available to lawmakers and the public at least 72 hours before a House vote.

A special election being held today in Massachusetts to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat could change the landscape for health reform passage, as a Republican victory would deprive the Democratic caucus of its current 60-vote majority. However, due to formalities and paperwork, the new senator likely will not be sworn in before February.

 The final health reform bill is expected to include many positive provisions for people with disabilities, including the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act and the Community First Choice Option. AUCD, along with 156 other organizations, signed on to letters to House and Senate leaders urging that a number of long term services and supports provisions, including the CLASS Act, be retained in a final bill. AUCD also signed on to a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities letter containing comprehensive recommendations for a final health reform bill.

Medicaid Parity
AUCD, along with 136 other organizations, has signed on to a letter to House and Senate Democrat leaders urging them to ensure access to care under the proposed Medicaid expansion by adopting the House provision to bring Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care in line with comparable Medicare rates within four years.

State Fiscal Relief
AUCD has signed on to a letter drafted by the State Fiscal Relief Coalition to secure an extension of the temporary Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) increase established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Coalition is working to get the increase into the health reform bill to expedite state and local fiscal relief.

Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Testimony Opportunities
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is currently accepting requests to testify at public hearings that will be held later this spring. AUCD has submitted a request to testify. If awarded a slot, AUCD's President, Tamar Heller, will testify on behalf of the network.

US HHS/ASPE Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP) Reports
The U.S. Health and Human Services/ASPE DALTCP office has compiled a list of 43 of the office's reports (both old and new) which were made available online in 2009.  Report topics include: advanced directives, certified nursing assistants, emergency preparedness, health information technology, home health care, psychiatric boarding, and special needs plans. The list, including direct links to each report, can be found at

Restraint and Seclusion National Call-In Day
The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) is asking the public to participate in a national call-in day on Thursday, January 21 to support the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act.  Individuals, networks, constituents, family members, and coworkers can participate by dialing the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking their Congressional representatives to cosponsor H.R. 4247 and S. 2860.  To find the names of your Senators and Representatives, visit You can also ask your members to cosponsor the bills by visiting AUCD's action center.

Long-Term Services & Supports (LTSS)
The latest issue of Health Affairs, entitled Advancing Long-Term Services & Supports, contains a number of articles on LTSS issues, including (but not limited to) improving the long-term care workforce, assisted living, and end-of-life issues in the workplace. Founded in 1981, Health Affairs is a peer-reviewed journal of health policy thought and research.