AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 9, 2010

Congressional Schedule
Congress returns from its two week spring recess next week (April 12). The Senate will hold a hearing on ESEA reauthorization Tuesday, focusing on school turnaround.

Health Reform and Medicaid
A cornerstone of the new health care reform law is the Medicaid expansion to 15 million new beneficiaries; however, many states are experiencing budget shortfalls. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on Tuesday (March 6) that States that are moving aggressively to cover childless adults will get some help in the form of federal funding, HHS. "Starting this year there are opportunities for states to immediately begin to cover the so-called childless adult population. There are a lot of uninsured Americans that fit into that category," Sebelius said. She indicated that an official announcement could come by the end of the week, and an aide to Sebelius said that the proposal may take the form of a proposed rule. Under the health reform law, states will receive 100 percent federal funding for all newly eligible Medicaid recipients (those with incomes under 133 percent of the federal poverty level and not eligible for some other program) for 2014, 2015 and 2016. After that, however, the additional federal funding stops. States have the option beginning this month to cover childless adults under 133 percent of the federal poverty line under a state plan amendment. The states can phase in the new coverage, but must cover lower-income individuals first, before expanding to others. The statement by Sebelius suggests that HHS intends to help these states with federal funding to encourage a higher coverage of childless adults.

AUCD signed onto a coalition letter prepared by the Trust for America's Health to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to communicate broad support around some general parameters related to implementation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and other key public health provisions and concepts in the new health care reform law.  The letter emphasizes that the Prevention and Public Health Fund is central to supporting the long-term transformation of the nation's public health system and that investments from the Fund should not supplant existing funding. The letter also identifies short term goals of the National Prevention Strategy, such as a focus on community prevention, expanding core capacity, and expanding the science base of prevention through research and development.  

Social Security
SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue will testify Wednesday before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Ed Subcommittee.  The hearing, entitled "FY 2011 Budget Overview: Social Security Administration",  will focus on SSA's service delivery challenges arising from the increase in benefit applications due to the recession, an aging society, and prior underfunding; and how SSA has planned for and is managing these challenges.  The hearing advisory is available at:  You also can watch the hearing live on the Subcommittee's website.

Lifespan Respite
The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) announced last week that it is providing competitive grants to eligible state agencies related to the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006. Lifespan Respite Care programs are coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite care services for family caregivers of children or adults of all ages with special needs. Eligible applicants include State Units on Aging, State Medicaid Agencies, or a State agency designated by the Governor in collaboration with a state respite coalition or state respite organization and in concert with an Aging and Disability Resource Center. The expected number of awards is 15 - 36-month grants at $200,000 each.  All applicants are required to send a letter of intent by May 7, 2010, and the closing date for applications is June 7, 2010.  See the
program announcement to learn more about key dates and grant application instructions.

Community Living/Housing
As part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Community Living Initiative, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced last week that beginning late this fall, HUD will offer $40 million to public housing authorities nationwide to fund 5,300 Housing Choice Vouchers for non-elderly persons with disabilities with a portion of the voucher specifically targeted to individuals transitioning from institutions through the Money Follows the Person program.  Disability advocates are encouraged to assist their local Public Housing Authorities to apply for these vouchers as well as informing individuals interested in transitioning to the community about this opportunity. See the full HHS News Release.  Click here to download the Housing Choice Vouchers grant application.

Disability Policy Seminar
AUCD's legislative affairs staff will be out of the office participating in the Disability Policy Seminar Monday through Wednesday. If you are not able to participate in person, you can still read the Fact Sheets and help to educate your Members of Congress. Fact Sheets on all of the policy issues covered at the Seminar are now available online. Presentations from the Seminar will be posted on the site soon.