AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 28, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 28, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 13
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Congressional Schedule
Congress returns from recess to continue negotiations on fiscal 2011 spending.  Both chambers also begin work on the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution, holding hearings throughout the week.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday on her Department's 2012 budget.

Budget and Appropriations
Congress returns this week with two weeks remaining in the current short-term continuing resolution, but little progress was made during the recess to reach a long-term solution.  A government shutdown remains unlikely, but not inconceivable.  Policymakers have just ten days before the current stopgap spending measure expires on April 8.  A new House procedural rule requires that bills be available to the public for 72 hours before a vote; therefore the deadline for introducing a final spending bill would actually be April 5.  The Senate will need to act quickly.  AUCD network programs continue to operate at FY 2010 funding levels under the current CR.

Combating Autism Act
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Autism Task Force is organizing meetings with Members of the Senate HELP and House Energy and Commerce Committees April 1- 4 in recognition of Autism Awareness Day (April 2).  The purpose of the meetings is to educate members of the Committees about the law and to urge them to introduce and pass a bill to extend the law before it expires this coming September.  The letter will include a recently published congressionally mandated report that highlights progress made under the law.  See more information in March 21 In Brief and AUCD's action alert on this issue.

Americans with Disabilities Act
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released Friday final regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  Like the law, the regulations simplify the determination of who has a "disability" as defined by the law and will make it easier for people to establish that they are protected by the ADA.  The text of the regulations and several documents explaining them are available on AUCD's ADA policy page.

Health Care Reform
Last week AUCD joined with other disability groups in celebrating the one year anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 11-148) (see AUCD press release).  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a video with information about how the law is already helping millions of Americans to obtain health care.  The White House health blog also contains updated information about the law's impact and implementation efforts.

This week, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on the federal budget and jobs.  Witnesses will include Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Rick Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee will hold a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act Friday, with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifying. 

Among new health care resources posted to AUCD's Health Reform Hub is a new Commonwealth Fund issue brief analyzing how the essential health benefits provisions in the Affordable Care Act will impact Americans with disabilities.  This provision in the law requires that insurance companies in the individual and small-group markets provide an "essential health benefits" package, which will be defined by the Department of Health and Human Services.  It requires that the HHS Secretary not make coverage decisions or design benefits in a way that discriminates against individuals because of their age, disability or expected length of life.  The brief examines the statute and its provisions as well as how it builds upon existing federal legislation related to health insurance and disability discrimination. 

Long-Term Services and Supports
The Urban Institute convened a panel to discuss strategies to "fix" the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, the voluntary long-term services insurance plan created by the Affordable Care Act.  Discussion centered largely around the program's long-term solvency.  Marty Ford of the Disability Policy Collaboration presented on the panel, emphasizing that the law gives the Health and Human Services Secretary the authority and flexibility to develop a program that is actuarially sound.  An archived webcast of the briefing can be viewed on the Urban Institute's

AUCD staff met with Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary of HHS for the Department of Aging, along with small group of aging, disability, and caregiver organizations Friday.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the President's FY 2012 Budget as it impacts caregivers, including the National Family Caregivers Support Program (NFCSP) and the Lifespan Respite Care Act.  The NFCSP would receive a $40 million increase to $192 million under the President's Budget.  The Respite program would be increased to $10 million from the current $2.5 million if the Budget were enacted.  The group also discussed other caregiving and aging issues, such as amending the NFCSP to support aging parents caring for adult children with disabilities and issues impacting aging individuals with developmental disabilities. 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
AUCD co-sponsored a briefing on birth defects entitled "Healthy Beginnings", hosted by the March of Dimes, Spina Bifida Association, Rep.s Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Mike Simpson as part of the planned activities for NCBDDD's 10 Years of Service events taking place throughout the year.  Speakers at the briefing included: Judy Woodruff, Senior Correspondent of the PBS NewsHour and mother of a child with spina bifida; Dr. Coleen Boyle, Acting Director of the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities; Dr. Martha Werler, an epidemiology professor at the Boston University School of Public Health.  Several activities have been planned throughout the year to celebrate a decade of service on behalf of NCBDDD working to promote the health of babies, children and adults living with birth defects, disabilities or blood disorders. Please visit the NCBDDD website to learn about events and activities taking place near you. 

Home Medical Equipment
Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Jason Altmire (D-PA) introduced HR 1041, the Fairness in Medicare Bidding Act, on March 11.  The bill would end the flawed competitive bidding program to ensure that patients' access to home medical equipment and services (HME) are maintained.  AUCD signed onto a coalition letter thanking Altmire and Thompson for introducing the bill. This bill will protect patients' access to medically required home medical equipment and services, which are critical to helping people with disabilities maintain good health and independence in their communities.


For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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