AUCD Legislative News In Brief

August 22, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  August 22, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 34
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is on recess until after Labor Day.  Because there are so many issues at stake for people with disabilities right now, AUCD strongly urges you to participate in town hall meetings or meet with your members of Congress in their home offices while they are on recess.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to find the contact information for your members' local offices.  Call the office and ask when and where their next town hall meeting will be.  Members must hear about the need to pass the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (S. 1094, H.R. 2005) and protect Medicaid from cuts and block grant proposals.  Use the Action Center, read past issues of In Brief or explore AUCD's Policy pages to learn about current legislation and its impact on people with disabilities.

Budget & Appropriations
The White House budget office issued a memorandum last week directing federal departments to reduce their budget requests for fiscal year 2013, which begins on October 1, 2012.  The memo states that requests should be at least five percent below what agencies received for fiscal year 2011, but should also identify additional cuts that would put their requests 10 percent below current funding.  Agencies are directed to avoid across-the-board reductions by identifying specific programs.  This guidance reflects the tight limits set on discretionary spending in the Budget Control Act. 

Combating Autism Reauthorization Act
AUCD continues to meet with members of the House and Senate to advocate for the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act, or CARA, (
HR 2005, S. 1094).  This legislation is facing major hurdles in the House of Representatives due to a protocol issued by the House Republican leadership in which "disease or condition-specific" bills will not be brought to the House floor for a vote.  Though the Combating Autism Act (CAA) benefits individuals with developmental disabilities other than autism, it is still being considered condition-specific legislation by House leadership.

If CAA is not reauthorized, the ability of the Health Resources and Services Administration to continue the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs would be seriously threatened.  There is some indication that the LENDs would need to re-compete for an unknown level of funding and support.

The Senate bill (S. 1094) will be marked up in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), on Wednesday, September 7.  AUCD is confident that it will be successfully voted out of the HELP Committee, after which the full Senate will hopefully act quickly to pass the bill.  A strong vote in the Senate will help to spur support in the House.  So far, no markup has been scheduled for the House companion bill, H.R. 2005.  Please visit AUCD's Action Center for tools you can use to encourage your members of Congress to support quick movement on these bills before the law expires on September 30.  Specifically, if your Representative is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, it is particularly important to ask him/her to support H.R 2005.

AUCD partnered with the National Disability Rights Network and the National Council on Independent Living to sponsor a briefing for the disability community on draft legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which includes the Rehabilitation Act.  During the discussion, Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director Andrew Imparato from Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)'s office gave an overview of the draft and answered questions in hopes of clarifying the intent behind the legislation and building consensus in the disability community around a few of the more debated provisions in the bill.  Senate leaders hope to mark up the draft bill in September.  The House has taken no action to date. 

Health Care Reform
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently held that a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 is unconstitutional.  The "individual mandate" is a fundamental piece of ACA, as most experts agree that the law's consumer protections and coverage expansion provisions are not sustainable without a broad pool of participants.  Although the idea originally arose during the George H.W. Bush administration, it has received criticism from many Republicans since its enactment in ACA.  Courts throughout the U.S. have provided contradictory rulings on the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision, and the issue is expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.  More information on legal challenges to the ACA can be found in this health policy brief published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  


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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