AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 27, 2010

Congressional Schedule
House Democrats have set September 30 as the new target adjournment date before leaving Washington for the midterm elections.  The Senate may also leave early, but timing for both chambers will depend on how quickly they can finish the continuing budget resolution necessary to keep the government running after the 30th (see Appropriations below).

Autism Training and Education
The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (393 to 24) in support of the Training and Research for Autism Improvement Nationwide Act (H.R. 5756).  The TRAIN Act creates training initiatives and authorizes grants to the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities to provide interdisciplinary training, continuing education, technical assistance, and information in order to improve services to children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities and their families, as well as to address the existing unmet needs related to individuals on the autism spectrum.  The bipartisan TRAIN Act was introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) on July 15. It passed the House sub- and full committees unanimously.  This bill was also included in the House health care reform bill but did not make it into the final law.  The next step is for the Senate to take action on the TRAIN Act.  View the floor statements ( and use our Action Center to see the votes, thank your Representatives, and to urge your Senators to support quick action.

Rosa's Law Passes!
On September 22, the House of Representatives unanimously passed
Rosa's Law (S.2781), using the Senate-passed bill, under suspension of the rules.  Suspension of the rules is a procedure that is used to quickly pass a non-controversial bill in the House.  Rosa's law will replace the terms "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" with "intellectual disability" and "individual with an intellectual disability" in specific federal laws.  AUCD and the disability community have been advocating for this important legislation for nearly a year.  AUCD believes that this seemingly small change in terminology used to describe people with disabilities in federal legislation is a monumental step toward dismantling archaic and demeaning stereotypes about people with disabilities.  Before the September 22 vote, AUCD signed onto a sign-on letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Education Task Force urging the House to pass Rosa's Law.  To thank your Representative, visit AUCD's Action Center.    

Congress must pass a continuing resolution (CR) before the October 1 beginning of the new fiscal year to keep federal programs running because none of the 12 annual appropriations bills have been signed into law.  The CR will likely continue programs, including those administered by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education, at current spending levels.  Hopefully, the appropriations process will be completed during the two- to three-week lame duck session beginning when Congress returns from the mid-term elections.

Health Reform
On September 23 - the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act - several important provisions of the law went into effect.  These include what the Administration is referring to as the "Patient's Bill of Rights":

·         Ban on Discriminating Against Kids with Pre-Existing Conditions

·         Ban on Insurance Companies Dropping Coverage

·         Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Coverage

·         Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Choice of Doctors

·         Ban on Insurance Companies Restricting Emergency Room Care

·         Guaranteed Right to Appeal

·         Covering Young Adults on Parent's Plan

·         Covering Preventive Care With No Cost

These reforms will do a great deal to help people with disabilities and their families access affordable, quality health care.  For more information, visit and AUCD's Health Reform Hub.

Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 3829, a bill to repeal the CLASS Act - the new national long-term insurance program enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.  Senators Chambliss (R- GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), and McCain (R-AZ) cosponsored the bill.  The CLASS Act will help working Americans meet their long-term service needs while avoiding the impoverishment necessary to receive Medicaid benefits.  AUCD advocated for the CLASS Act, and strongly opposes any attempts to repeal it. Learn more about the CLASS Act in AUCD's summary of the long-term services and support provisions in the Affordable Care Act. 

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $68 million in grants to help seniors, individuals with disabilities, and caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options.  Created by the Affordable Care Act, these grants will be used to help families: understand their Medicare and Medicaid benefits, including coverage for preventive services; navigate options for long-term care including community-based services that can help individuals remain in their homes; and assist those transitioning from nursing or rehabilitation facilities back home to put the supports in place to make that transition successful.

Child Abuse Prevention
Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) introduced Wednesday a bill, S. 3817, to reauthorize the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  This bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Sens. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.  The bill extends CAPTA funding for five years through 2015, with an authorized funding level of $132 million for 2011 and such sums as necessary in the out years for basic grants to states and discretionary grants.  The funding levels reflect an increase of 10% over the current authorized levels.  The HELP committee will mark up the bill this Wednesday.  For more information, please visit AUCD's Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment policy page.

Medicaid & State Budgets
HHS has reported that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have requested their share of the $16.1 billion in additional Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) funds provided by the Teacher Jobs and State Fiscal Relief Act of 2010.  These funds will help relieve state budget shortfalls through June 2011.

AUCD submitted
comments last week to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs regarding Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors: Evaluation of Affirmative Action Provisions under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Section 503 requires most employers doing business with the federal government to take affirmative action to employ, and advance employment of, qualified individuals with a disability.  Although federal and state affirmative action requirements have been shown to increase employment for racial and ethnic minorities and women, similar increases have not been seen in response to the disability affirmative action requirements of Section 503.  The comments were developed by the CCD Rights and Employment Task Forces and reviewed by AUCD's Employment workgroup.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today the launch of the TEACH Campaign and, a revolutionary new website dedicated to providing information, testimonials, and resources for students and prospective teachers, including a new interactive "path to teaching" tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher.  The Campaign's goal is to encourage and engage a new generation of qualified teachers.