AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 7, 2010

Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate are on recess until the week of September 13. There are only four weeks left in the pre-election work period.  The Senate is scheduled to consider a small business tax and lending package (HR 5297) with procedural votes scheduled that could consume the entire first week. Democrats also have promised to debate extending the Bush administration's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. The Senate may also take up a Defense authorization bill, and Congress must pass a continuing resolution to keep the government running after the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

FY 2011 Appropriations
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved nine of twelve annual funding bills, but none have been approved by the full Senate.
In the House, the Appropriations Committee passed only two bills - Military Construction/VA and HUD/Transportation.  Both passed the full House in July.  According to some Hill staff, the most likely scenario for wrapping up the appropriations process is that the Congress will pass a continuing resolution (CR) soon after returning from recess.  The CR will likely continue federal program funding at current levels.  It is then predicted that, following the mid-term elections, most of the unfinished FY 11 funding bills will be wrapped up in an omnibus package and passed near the end of the year.  For information about the Appropriations Committee funding for AUCD network programs, see the August 9 In Brief and August 2 In Brief.

Budget and Fiscal Commission
AUCD, along with over 100 health organizations, signed on to a Coalition for Health Funding letter sent to the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform urging the Commission to consider reducing federal spending, raise federal revenue, and looking beyond just nondefense discretionary spending (which represents less than half of all discretionary spending) as a vehicle for deficit reduction.  The letter also asks the Commission to consider the profound consequences that one-sided cuts to discretionary spending would have on the nation's global competitiveness and the capacity to address the needs of the most vulnerable.  The recommendations of the Commission may have a significant impact on the budget and appropriations process in FY 2012 and beyond.

On August 24, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that nine states and the District of Columbia will receive grants in Phase 2 of the Race to the Top competition.  Along with Phase 1 winners (Delaware and Tennessee), Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia will be awarded significant funding under the Administration's reform program.  States participating in Race to the Top will develop and implement reform plans to adopt standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace, recruit and retain effective teachers and principals and turn around the lowest-achieving schools.  A total of 46 states and D.C. applied for the competitive funding.  Secretary Duncan stated his hope for a third phase of the program and has requested $1.35 billion in next year's budget for that purpose.  For more information, visit the Race to the Top website.

Health Reform
The Senate is set to consider an amendment when it returns on Sept. 14 from Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) to small business legislation (HR 5297) that would seriously weaken the health and wellness efforts in the Affordable Care Act.  The amendment would repeal a provision of the health reform law designed to raise revenue by enforcing compliance with the nation's tax laws. While critics have raised legitimate concerns about some of the paperwork requirements related to that provision, other budget experts suggest addressing those concerns by modifying the provision, rather than by repealing it outright and thereby allowing substantial tax avoidance to continue. Moreover, the Johanns amendment would offset the large revenue loss by essentially eliminating the newly established Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund in the Affordable Care Act. An alternative amendment from Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), which the Senate offers a better approach: scaling back the tax provision to reduce its scope and its paperwork requirements.  AUCD signed onto a
letter to Congress crafted by the Trust for America's Health in strong opposition to the Johanns Amendment.  The letter now has 235 organizational signatures.  The Coalition for Health Funding also sent a letter opposing this amendment.

Please visit AUCD's Health Reform Hub for other information and resources on the health care and the Affordable Care Act.

Children's Health Insurance Program
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge, a new effort to enroll uninsured children in federal health care programs.  She was joined by Education Secretary Duncan and CMS Medicaid Administrator Cindy Mann.  Sebelius urged leaders from across government and the private sector to join the challenge to connect kids to coverage.  The goal of the campaign is to enroll five million children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) within five years.  According to coverage estimates, 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008, of whom 4.7 million (65 percent) were eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled. An archived webcast can be viewed at on the HHS
website.  For more information about this campaign, see:

Lifespan Respite Care
The 2010 National Lifespan Respite Conference takes place October 24 - 27 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The National Lifespan Conference will provide prominent national, state, and local speakers, carefully designed presentations, round table discussions with elected officials and leaders from the industry (See for keynote speakers).  State advocates interested in establishing Lifespan Respite Programs and learning about state and federal resources to do so should consider this national event.

Also related to respite care, the US Administration on Aging has sent Notices of Award to twelve new state FY 2010 Lifespan Respite Program grantees and posted a Press Release on its website.




Delaware Department of Health and Social Services


Kansas Department on Aging


Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals


Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation


Minnesota Board on Aging


Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

New York

New York State Office for the Aging


Oklahoma Department of Human Services


Pennsylvania Department of Aging


Utah Department of Human Services

Washington State

Department of Social and Health Services


Wisconsin Department of Health Service

 AUCD will be joining other national advocates next week in a meeting with the U.S. Department of Aging officials to discuss future funding of the Lifespan Respite Care Act.

AUCD Legislative Affairs
The AUCD Legislative Affairs Committee meets monthly (second Tuesdays) by conference call.  The next call is scheduled for September 14 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.  An agenda with the call-in number will be emailed to committee members before the call.  The Committee develops AUCD's legislative agenda and provides input and guidance to association staff on policy issues that impact people with disabilities and network programs.  For more information about the Committee and AUCD legislative affairs, see the Public Policy website and Action Center.