AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 2, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  May 2, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 18
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Congressional Schedule
Congress returns from a two-week recess.  Budget and appropriations will continue to be on the top of the agenda. Congress will also consider several bills to "defund" parts of the Affordable Care Act. 

Budget & Appropriations
Congress must pass a debt limit increase by July to avoid a default on the government's loans. (See "Debt Limit" below for more information).  Republicans are expected to demand huge cuts in government spending before agreeing to raise the debt limit.  The House passed its Budget Resolution, drafted by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), on April 15 (for details, see April 11 In Brief).  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised to allow a vote on the Ryan plan this week, but it has little to no chance of passage in that chamber.  Meanwhile, a group of six bipartisan Senators is trying to come to agreement on a budget plan that will garner the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate.  In addition, the President has asked Vice President Joe Biden to chair a different bipartisan group of congressional leaders to produce a deficit reduction plan by the end of June. 

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on deficit reduction proposals, so-called "deficit caps" and "sequestration triggers".  The following experts are scheduled to testify: Susan J. Irving, Ph.D., Director for Federal Budget Analysis, U.S. GAO; Paul Van de Water, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and The Honorable Phil Gramm, Vice Chairman, UBS Investment Bank, and former senator.  AUCD helped to draft a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to Congress opposing budget proposals that include an arbitrarily established cap on future spending.  Such a cap would be devastating to people with disabilities because it would result in drastic reductions in services and supports and harmful structural changes to entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare that would be necessary in order to achieve such steep spending cuts.

Health Care Reform
The House is expected to pass three health care-related bills this week aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  One bill (HR 1214), sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), would eliminate funds to construct school-based health clinics.  The second bill (HR 1213), sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), repeals mandatory funding to States under the ACA to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges.  AUCD signed on to a letter opposing this bill, as the creation of state-based exchanges is a central element of the health law's provisions to make affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage available to consumers.  The third bill (HR 3), introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), permanently prohibits federal funding of abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman's life.  In April, the House passed a bill (HR 1217) to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund strongly supported by AUCD.  None of these bills are expected to pass in the Senate.  For more information or to read the text of these bills, see how your Members voted and contact them, see
AUCD's Action Center.

White House Autism Awareness Month Event
AUCD's executive director, George Jesien, joined other national organizational leaders, researchers, and Administration officials invited to the White House on April 25 to discuss current issues related to autism.  The event was scheduled as part of Autism Awareness Month. Although the President was not at the event, his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius addressed the participants.  During her statement, Jarrett stated the Administration's support for the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act and for the ongoing work of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee.  Sebelius also stated support for the reauthorization and for continuing to enhance the education of health professionals and research to develop evidence-based interventions.  Listen to the full statements of Sebelius and Jarrett on the
White House home page.

Evidence-Based Policymaking
In 2010, the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) and AUCD entered into a partnership to develop products and activities that would promote evidence-based policymaking.  NASDDDS defines evidence-based policy as "the responsible application of the best available evidence in the design, administration and reform of programs, services and supports in a manner consistent with achieving independence, productivity, inclusion and self-determination for individuals with developmental disabilities" (NASDDDS Research Committee, 2009).  By working together AUCD and NASDDDS are seeking to establish a stronger foundation of knowledge to fulfill commitments in federal laws and court cases, and parallel statements within the states to achieve national goals for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Please see the initiative website for more information on how these products will be developed and used to inform policy development.

Long-Term Services and Supports
AUCD signed on to a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Long-Term Services and Supports Task Force to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in response to proposed rules implementing the Community First Choice Option Medicaid program created under the Affordable Care Act.  The Task Force commended CMS "for underscoring throughout the proposed regulations the principles of consumer control."  Recommendations to CMS include: inclusion of an individual's spouse or partner as an individual's representative; a requirement that states that take up the CFC option first address all individuals who have an institutional level of care need before a opting to serve lower income persons who do not have an institutional level of care need; and inclusion of performance and quality of care measures. 

Obama Administration officials, AUCD legislative staff, and other national organizational leaders presented at a recent UCEDD Director's retreat and technical assistance institute.  The presentations and discussion notes are available online:
UCEDD Director's Retreat; 2011 UCEDD TA Institute.

Debt Limit
The debt limit, or debt ceiling, is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments.  The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments.  It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.  Failing to increase the debt limit would have catastrophic economic consequences.  It would cause the government to default on its legal obligations, which would cause another financial crisis and threaten the jobs and savings of all Americans.  For more information, see the Department of Treasury Fact Sheet on the debt limit.


For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

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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