AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 14, 2010

Health Reform Webinar Series
AUCD will hold a series of webinars on the Affordable Care Act over the next few weeks.  The first in the series will be on Market Reforms and Long Term Care, this Wednesday, July 16 with Kim Musheno of AUCD and Marty Ford of The Arc/UCP.  Ms. Ford is a well-known and nationally respected expert on long-term care issues.  The following day's webinar will showcase Annie Toro, a national expert working on the implementation of the prevention and wellness provisions in the Act.  This is a great opportunity for our network members to understand the intricacies of the provisions included in the health care reform law.  We hope you will join us.  Click on hyperlinks for more information and to register:

Market Reforms and Long Term Care, Wednesday, July 16, at 4 p.m. EDT
Prevention and Wellness, Thursday, June 17, 4:00-5:00 p.m. EDT
Implications for Individuals and Families with Autism, Wednesday, June 30, 4:00-5:00   p.m. EDT
Workforce Provisions, Thursday, July 8, 4:00-5:00 p.m. EDT

Budget and Appropriations
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) now seems less optimistic about passing a budget resolution before the July 4th recess given all the other legislative priorities-the extenders package, financial reform conference, and the war supplemental conference. However, he still believes the Senate can pass a budget resolution given the anticipated delays in the appropriations process. He said publicly that the Senate will likely pass only the Defense, MilCon/VA, and Homeland Security bills before they recess for the November elections.

House Democrats are still debating whether to move a budget resolution or work on a deeming resolution to establish the spending caps. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has said that the House will consider a budget-perhaps only a one-year plan-and it is likely that domestic discretionary spending will be lower than the president's budget request. 

The Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag has now directed non-security agencies to trim costs by identifying "wasteful programs" - those considered to be performing poorly -- and producing budgets for FY 2012 that would cut spending by 5 percent. Information about areas for cuts is due as an addendum to agencies' budget submissions on September 13, 2010.

The Senate continues work on its version of the tax extenders bill this week as leaders try to garner the 60 votes necessary to move the bill through. The bill includes $24 billion to extend the temporary boost in federal matching funds for Medicaid (FMAP), a provision that was removed from the House-passed version last month because of its cost.  However, the bill's growing size could put it in jeopardy when the measure returns to the House for consideration; fiscally conservative Democrats are likely to oppose any provisions that would increase the federal deficit. But without the enhanced FMAP extension, many states will be forced to make drastic cuts to their Medicaid programs.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your Senators on this issue.

The Affordable Care Act outlines the process for updating the criteria and methodology that define how Medically Underserved Populations (MUP) and Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas are designated. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is appointing a committee to write regulations to update the definition of "Medically Underserved Populations". The current definition applies only to racial and ethnic populations and people who live in certain geographically defined areas. Because the disability community is not included, programs and research to provide better medical care to people with disabilities are limited. AUCD helped draft a letter from the disability community asking HRSA to ensure that the committee includes representatives from the cross-disability community and that people with disabilities are included as people who are medically underserved. 

The Alliance for Health Reform has released a new issue brief entitled, "The Future of Children's Health Coverage". The brief discusses details of the Affordable Care Act, including mandatory Medicaid coverage for some children ages six to 19, requirements regarding the Children's Health Insurance Program, potential problems for state Medicaid programs as reform is implemented, and the current state of children's coverage.

Social Security
On Friday, June 11, AUCD along with 40 other advocacy groups, signed on to a letter sent to House Committee Appropriators requesting that the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee provide funding the President's FY 2011 budget request of $12.528 billion for the efficient and effective operation of the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The letter stresses that the recommended funding level would be a significant positive step towards improving SSA's services to older Americans, people with disabilities, workers of all ages, and survivors of workers.

Americans with Disabilities Act
On June 6, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, kicked off the President's and White House's celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by delivering remarks to over 2,000 people from around the World at the VSA International Festival at the Kennedy Center. The ADA is important civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. Senior administration officials will continue to commemorate the ADA anniversary in the weeks to come with new policies and events.

AUCD Intern
AUCD welcomes a new Legislative Affairs intern, James Tyer, this week. James is taking part in a summer internship program hosted by The Fund for American Studies and Georgetown University. James will be assisting the Legislative Affairs staff in monitoring and analyzing legislation; attending disability coalition meetings, congressional hearings and markups; assisting staff with writing and editing reports, newsletters, and action alerts; and supporting staff with a variety of other administrative tasks. James is a rising junior at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, majoring in political science with a minor in pre-law and economics. James aspires to attend law school upon graduation. At AUCD, James hopes to gain valuable firsthand experience in the legislative process and particular information concerning those with developmental disabilities, and to nurture his passion for global humanitarian and human rights causes.