AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 19, 2010

Congressional Schedule
Later in the week, the Senate may take up a bill to extend unemployment benefits and a fiscal 2010 supplemental war spending bill.  Carte Goodwin (D-WV) is expected to be sworn in to the Senate on Tuesday as the interim replacement for the late Sen. Robert Byrd.

Great news!  On July15, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) introduced the Training and Research for Autism Improvement Nationwide Act (H.R.5756).  This bill is similar to the interdisciplinary training initiatives authorized in the Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (HR 2413/S. 819).  The bill authorizes supplemental grants to UCEDDs and other comparable training entities to provide interdisciplinary training, continuing education, technical assistance, and information in order to improve services to children and adults with autism and their families, as well as to address the existing unmet needs related to individuals on the spectrum and other developmental disabilities. Rep. Doyle worked successfully to have this measure included in the comprehensive health care reform bill approved by the House of Representatives last year (America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, H.R. 3590), but it was not included in the final health care reform legislation that was subsequently signed into law. The text of the TRAIN Act as well as AUCD's statement and Rep. Doyle's press release are on AUCD autism policy page.

Rep. Doyle announced the introduction of H.R. 5756 during a congressional briefing on national autism policy sponsored by the Advancing Futures of Adults with Autism. The briefing brought together federal legislators, national policymakers, and advocates for adults with autism - including individuals who have autism - to discuss priorities for action in the public and private sectors that address the increasing and unmet demand for effective services for adolescents and adults with the disorder.  AUCD President Tamar Heller, Director of the Illinois UCEDD, was among those to present.  Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) also made remarks.

The House Labor-HHS-ED Appropriations Subcommittee approved its FY 2011 spending bill by a vote of 11-5, which would provide a total of $738.7 billion for FY 2011. Of that amount, $176.4 billion is discretionary funding. The bill is $12.7 billion more than FY 2010, but $1.5 billion less than the president's request.  Details have not been made public. However, the committee's summary provides the following details:

 HHS would receive $76.7 billion ($3.8 billion over FY 10 and $270 million more than the president requested)

NIH's funding is consistent with the President's request ($32.007 billion, which is a $1 billion increase)

CDC funding is increased $32 million to $6.782 billion; the president had requested a cut in FY 2011

HRSA would receive $7.6 billion, a $99 million increase but $20 million less than the president's request

All of the major agencies except NIH will receive some of the $750 million available in FY 2011 through the new Prevention and Public Health Fund. Details are not yet available. It is unclear when the full House Committee will markup the bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee cut their funding allocation (302(b)s) by $14 billion below the president's request. Chairman Inouye's (D-HI) proposed cap was $8 billion less than the request, where Republicans had proposed cutting FY 2011 discretionary spending by closer to $20 billion. The Chairman offered to "split the difference," with an additional $6 billion cut coming from the Dept. of Defense. The proposal passed on a strictly party-line vote, 17-12. The Senate L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee is tentatively scheduled to mark up its bill this week with full Committee markup scheduled for next week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he intends to bring up another tax extenders bill that will likely include some form of extension of the enhanced federal Medicaid funding (FMAP) for states enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year.  Democrats failed last month to get the 60 votes needed to pass any of the several versions of the bill they introduced.  Those opposing the measure had concerns about its cost and effect on the national deficit.  By removing provisions in the bill to extend expired unemployment benefits, Democrats were able to offset all of the bill's costs with spending cuts elsewhere.  The bill previously included a six-month extension of enhanced Medicaid funds, a provision passed by both the House and Senate in different bills in previous months.  It is unclear whether a new version of the bill will include the same six-month extension.  Many states planned their budgets around a six-month extension, and without it, will be forced to make drastic cuts to their Medicaid programs.

Health Reform
AUCD signed on to a letter sent to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees regarding implementation of data collection provisions in the Affordable Care Act.  The letter expressed strong support for the immediate implementation of Section 3101, which requires that any federally conducted or supported health care or public health program, activity, or survey collect and report data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status for its applicants, recipients, or participants within two years of the law's enactment.  The letter stresses that this type of data collection is essential to ensure disparities in health care access and quality are identified and addressed, and that programs are designed from the outset to serve the most vulnerable populations. Additionally, the letter requests that $50 million be appropriated in FY2011 to begin implementation.