AUCD Legislative News In Brief

November 28, 2011

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  November 28, 2011   |  Vol. XI, Issue 47
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Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate return from a weeklong recess.  Congress will likely use December to focus on wrapping up the current fiscal year's (FY 2012) annual spending bills and ways to reduce the national debt over the long term.

FY 2013 Budget
On Monday, the 12-member, bipartisan "super committee" announced its failure to reach agreement on further reduction of the deficit.  In the end, the impasse was a fundamental philosophical disagreement over revenues and the role of the federal government.  Republican members held their ground on taxes, while Democrats on the Committee were determined to protect entitlement programs.  The good news is that Medicaid, a primary target in negotiations, was spared major cuts and restructuring.  The bad news is that  the super committee's failure to reach a deal means that many programs important to low-income people (although not Medicaid) could see automatic cuts starting on January 3, 2013, on top of the $900 billion in cuts that Congress agreed to earlier this summer.  AUCD assisted in preparing a
press statement on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities in response to the news.

FY 2012 Appropriations
Only three of the 12 annual funding bills for fiscal year 2012 have been signed into law.  According to Congressional Quarterly, appropriators may now try to package the remaining nine bills together in an omnibus bill.  However, with some House fiscal conservatives pushing for lower overall discretionary spending and controversial policy "riders" (legislative changes), there are also rumors that funding may continue through short-term continuing resolutions (CR) until early next year.  The current CR expires December 16.  If the Congress ultimately passes a full-year CR, programs under the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (including UCEDD and LEND programs) would sustain a 1.5 percent cut.

AUCD took the lead in drafting a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Education Task Force to appropriators urging support for postsecondary programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a final FY 2012 appropriations bill.  Specifically, the letter urges Congress to support level-funding for the Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities at $10.9 million in the Fiscal Year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides level-funding for the program; however the House draft funding bill would completely eliminate the program. This program is authorized under Title VII, Part D of the Higher Education Act (P.L 110-315). 

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up HR 1173, a bill to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program in the Affordable Care Act.  The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved the bill by voice vote on November 15, about a month after the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was suspending implementation of the program due to concerns about its sustainability.  Disability and aging advocates, including AUCD, have urged Congress and the Obama Administration to protect the program from repeal and continue to work with stakeholders to find a viable path for the program.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to contact your Representative about the CLASS program.

Eleven states have formally submitted requests to the Department of Education for waivers of key provisions of No Child Left Behind (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) under the Administration's "ESEA flexibility" plan.  To date, more than 40 states have indicated interest in applying for such waivers, which would relieve states from having to comply with the law's stringent accountability provisions in exchange for adopting policies the Administration believes will enhance student achievement.  The waiver requests must be peer-reviewed by a panel of experts, and the first round of the review process begins in December.  A list of the peer reviewers and the waiver requests submitted by the first eleven states (CO, FL, GA, IN, KY, MA, MN, NJ, NM, OK, TN) can be found at

Child Abuse & Neglect
In response to the child sexual abuse allegations coming from Penn State, several new bills have been introduced to improve reporting of child maltreatment.  Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) has introduced legislation aimed at expanding state child abuse reporting laws to mandate that all adults have the responsibility to report known or suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement or child protective services.  This universal mandate for reporting, which already exists in 18 states, would be a requirement for receiving Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) basic state grants and community-based prevention grants to states.  The bill, the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act - or, the Speak Up Act - S. 1877, was introduced on November 16, and a hearing has been scheduled before the HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families on December 13. 

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced two bills: the Federal Children's Protection Act, S. 1889, amending the Victims of Child Abuse Act to add a new provision mandating any person "while on federal land or in a federally operated (or contracted) facility" to report suspected abuse; and the State Children's Protection Act, S. 1887, which would require that all states enact legislation mandating that any person who believes or suspects an occurrence of child maltreatment report to law enforcement or child protective services.  Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Child Abuse Reporting Enforcement Act (CARE Act), S. 1879, on November 16, requiring states, in order to receive federal social services funding, to make it a felony for any individual to fail to report child abuse to law enforcement and child protection services.  House lawmakers, including longtime child advocate Rep. George Miller (D-CA), have called for congressional action to improve federal child protection laws.  Miller has requested a hearing to examine weaknesses in current law, including CAPTA.

New CMS Administrator
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Donald M. Berwick announced last Wednesday that he will step down December 2.  Deep partisan divides have prevented Congress from confirming Berwick, who Obama installed using a recess appointment that will expire December 31. The White House named the CMS deputy administrator, Marilyn Tavenner, to serve as acting administrator during the nominating process, and President Obama will nominate her to succeed Berwick.  Tavenner
started out as a nurse taking care of patients and rose to become a top executive in the country's largest for-profit hospital company before being named Virginia's health secretary by Gov. Tim Kaine.  President Obama named her principal deputy of CMS in 2010.

Health Care Reform
AUCD signed onto a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius developed by the National PKU Alliance regarding the importance of including medical foods for the treatment of inborn errors of metabolism in the essential health benefit package under the Affordable Care Act.  The letter states that treatments for inborn errors are currently covered in 38 states through a state insurance mandate or state program.  Failure to include coverage at the federal level would be disastrous and expensive.  If these disorders are not diagnosed and treated at birth and throughout the life span, the result is serious disability or death.  For more information, contact the Alliance.

Social Security
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, announced Friday that he will conduct a series of hearings on "Securing the Future of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program."  The first will be held Friday and will focus on the history of the disability insurance program, the income security it provides and its financing challenges, according to the Committee website.  The SSDI program pays benefits to those who have worked in the past but are determined to be unable to work because of a "severe medical condition that is expected to last more than a year or result in death."  For more information, see the
Subcommittee website.  The CCD Task Force on Social Security will be submitting comments for the record.

AUCD recently signed onto a joint letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources in response to a hearing it held on October 27 on Supplemental Security Income benefits for children.  The letter outlines the reason the program is so important to low-income families with children and youth with disabilities and urges Congress to continue to support and strengthen the SSI program.  The hearing is now archived on the subcommittee website.


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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