AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 13, 2010

Congressional Schedule
Congress returns from its summer recess this week.  Senate Democrats have identified three priorities for their short work period scheduled to end October 8: a small-business lending measure, a bill dealing with an extension of tax cuts and a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government functioning after the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.  Both chambers are considering cutting the work period short and leaving D.C. early to focus on the November elections, especially because the partisan climate in Congress will make it difficult to get much done in the few upcoming weeks.

There are only two weeks until the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year and no annual funding bills for FY 2011 have been signed into law.  According to Senate Appropriations Committee staff, the House and Senate are likely to pass a continuing resolution soon that will provide level funding until the Congress can find a way to finalize the spending bills.  The CR will extend funding until at least mid-November when a "lame duck" Congress will come back into session for a few weeks to finish business before adjourning.  There is some pressure to pass a year-long CR or to cut the overall discretionary funding for all programs.  AUCD continues to advocate for the highest possible funding levels for programs that assist people with disabilities to live, work, and recreate in the community.

Health Care
The Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on an amendment by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) that would strip the $15 billion prevention and wellness trust fund, championed by Sen. Harkin (D-IA),  that AUCD and so many other advocates worked so hard to include in the Affordable Care Act.  In FY 2011, $750 million of this fund will be used for community transformation grants, chronic disease prevention, epidemiology research, and health and wellness grants to communities among other initiatives that have been scientifically proven to improve the health of Americans and begin to bend the health cost curve.  Without this fund, many of the prevention programs authorized in the ACA will not be funded.  See last week's
In Brief and the AUCD Action Center for more information and action steps.

Budget and Appropriations
Two Senate committees - Budget and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs - have announced September 16 confirmation hearings for Jacob Lew, President Obama's nominee to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Lew held the post in the Clinton administration from 1998 to 2001.

Home and Community-Based Services
In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a
grant solicitation to encourage states not yet part of the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing (MFP) Demonstration to apply for grant funds.  Fourteen out of the 20 eligible states have expressed interest to do so.  Six states - Alaska, Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming - have not yet expressed interest to participate in the program.  Those states interested in participating are encouraged to notify CMS as soon as possible in order to receive technical assistance in developing successful applications, which are due January 7, 2011.  The Affordable Care Act provides $2.25 billion to extend the MFP Demonstration until 2016.  To assist state advocates, the AARP Public Policy Institute recently developed an issue brief explaining the cost-effectiveness of investing in home and community-based services.

Social Security
AUCD signed onto Campaign Principles developed by the Strengthen Social Security Campaign to educate the President's Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and Congress about the importance of the program and its sustainability.  The Campaign, a large coalition of both national and state organizations, is urging the Commission and Congress not to consider cuts to Social Security as a way to reduce the federal deficit.  The Fiscal Commission is considering all options for reducing the deficit, including cuts to entitlement programs upon which people with disabilities rely.

Please visit AUCD's new Social Security policy page for more information and resources.

Health Reform/Comparative Effectiveness Research
AUCD Legislative Affairs staff attended an issue forum hosted by Mathematica's
Center on Health Care Effectiveness to discuss their recent issue brief entitled, Politics and Policy of Comparative Effectiveness: Looking Back, Looking Ahead.  The forum explored Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) and the implementation of the Patient Center Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which are both allocated mandatory appropriations in the Affordable Care Act.  PCORI, designed as a public/private entity, will be charged with developing methodological standards for CER.  During the forum, several concerns regarding CER and PCORI were discussed, including how to define CER, the appropriate use and implementation decisions based on CER, and potential PCORI conflicts resulting from private and public interests.  In October, the Center for Medical Technology Policy, which focuses on a range of methods for evaluating CER, will be holding a policy briefing exploring ideas for the PCORI methodology committee.  AUCD legislative affairs will continue to follow CER and the development of PCORI.

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

AUCD Legislative Affairs
The AUCD Legislative Affairs Committee meets monthly (second Tuesdays) by conference call.  The next call is scheduled for tomorrow, September 14 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.  An agenda with the call-in number was emailed to committee members on Friday.  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.