AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 31, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 31, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 44
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FY 2012 Appropriations
The Senate will consider its first "mini-bus" or package of three appropriations bills this week.  Hill news journals are reporting that a new continuing resolution (short-term funding bill) will be attached to the next mini-bus to continue funding for federal programs through mid-December, as none of the 12 annual funding bills have been signed into law.  The current CR expires on November 18.  The Labor-HHS-ED funding bill, which includes most disability, education and health programs, is likely to be one of the last to be considered.  See previous issues of In Brief for more background.

Budget: FY 2013 & Beyond
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction ("Super Committee") will hold a hearing Tuesday on previous debt-reduction proposals.  Witnesses include Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles of the President's Fiscal Commission, and Dr. Alice Rivlin and Senator Pete Domenici of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force.  Last week, the Super Committee held a hearing on discretionary spending when Dr. Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, testified.

AUCD attended a meeting with U.S. Department of Education officials today to discuss the Obama Administration's plans to grant states waivers for some requirements under the nation's main education law known as No Child Left Behind.  To qualify for a waiver, states must adopt policies that reflect the department's principles for improving academic achievement and increasing the quality of instruction, including adopting college- and career-ready expectations for all students.  Each application will be peer-reviewed by a panel containing at least one expert on disability issues.  For more information, visit the Department's webpage on ESEA flexibility. 

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Health and Oversight and Investigations held a joint hearing Wednesday entitled, "CLASS Cancelled: An Unsustainable Program and Its Consequences for the Nation's Deficit".   The hearing was a response to a recent announcement by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that it is suspending implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program due to concerns about its long-term sustainability.  The hearing featured testimony from former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the CLASS program's biggest champion, Edward M. Kennedy.  Several Representatives and HHS officials testified, including Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee and Dr. Sherry Glied, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for HHS.  The hearing focused on perceived discrepancies between a September 2011 report from a group of legislators who want to repeal CLASS and the HHS report on the solvency of CLASS.  Republicans expressed a desire to repeal the CLASS Act entirely.  Democrats, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in particular, expressed disappointment about the cessation in implementation and urged reconsideration of means to address the pending long-term care crisis in the US.  AUCD signed onto a letter developed by AdvanceCLASS to House leaders opposing any legislation to repeal the CLASS program.  

Last week, the Republican Governor's Association (RGA) submitted a
letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction referencing a report from their Public Policy Committee entitled, "A New Medicaid: A Flexible, Innovative and Accountable Future".  In its report, RGA advocates for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including its "Maintenance of Effort" provision in favor of block-granting or otherwise capping Medicaid payments.  RGA is not in favor of cost-shifting mechanisms, such as the President's proposed blended rate, however they do advocate for additional flexibility within Medicaid such as eliminating "obsolete mandatory and optional benefit requirements", cost-sharing and revising eligibility criteria.

AUCD, along with 176 national aging, disability, and other organizations, signed onto an advertisement opposing cuts to Medicaid-funded programs.  The ad will run this week in targeted state capital newspapers, including the Arizona Republic (AZ), Lansing State Journal (MI), Annapolis Capital Gazette (MD), The Olympian (WA), Columbus Dispatch (OH), Nevada Appeal (NV), Boston Globe (MA), and Helena Independent Record (MT).  

Lifespan Respite
Last week, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Jim Langevin (D-RI) introduced the Lifespan Respite Reauthorization Act (HR 3266).  The bill makes no changes to the original law, except for the authorization levels and an update of the "Findings".  The bill now authorizes funding of $50 million over five years (FY 2012-FY 2016).  AUCD was very involved in advocating for the passage of this law and signed onto a letter in support of the reauthorization today.  AUCD encourages its members to
contact their Members and urge them to co-sponsor this important legislation!

AUCD Annual Meeting & Conference
A record 630 have registered for the Annual Meeting!  The Legislative Affairs Committee was involved in a number of events at this year's
Annual Meeting and Conference which are sure to be of interest to In Brief readers, including: 

  • Nov. 6: Legislative Affairs Briefing to learn about the most up to date information related to budget and appropriations and other federal disability policy. 
  • Nov. 8:  Awards Gala. AUCD will recognize Tim Lynagh from Rep. Chris Smith's (R-NJ) office and Michael Barnard from Senator Robert Menendez's (D-NJ) office with the Gold Star Award for their outstanding efforts in the passage of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act. 


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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