AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 9, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  January 9, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 2
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Congressional Schedule
Congress is in recess this week.  The House will convene next Tuesday, January 17.

Health Care Reform
High-Risk Pools Growing
According to
Kaiser Health News, nine states have asked the federal government for more money to make sure their new high-risk pools that provide health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions have enough funding through 2014. Two of the states, California and New Hampshire, have already been promised additional money.  The other seven states that have requests pending with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.  Nearly 42,000 people nationally have signed up for the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans as of October 31-- up from 25,000 in May, according to HHS.  The program, which began in June 2009, was initially expected to enroll 200,000 to 400,000 people.  Enrollment has increased since the summer, after premiums fell in some states by as much as 40 percent and some states stepped up advertising.  To qualify for the program, people have to be uninsured for at least six months and either have been turned down for coverage by an insurer, or have a doctor's note certifying they have a chronic health condition.

Obama Administration Submits Brief to Supreme Court
The Department of Justice submitted to the Supreme Court Friday its first brief arguing that a provision in the Affordable Care Act, referred to as the individual mandate, is constitutional.  The provision requires most people to purchase health care insurance by 2014, and has been one of the most controversial aspects of the law.  In March, the high court will hear arguments on case, which encompasses four issues: the individual mandate, the Medicaid expansion, whether the court should wait to consider the constitutionality of the individual mandate until it actually goes into effect, and whether the entire law can stand if the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

New Benefit for Dual-Eligibles Effective
Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals who are full-benefit dual eligibles (who qualify for both Medicare and full Medicaid benefits) and who are receiving Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) are eligible for a full waiver of copayment requirements for their Medicare Part D prescription drugs.  The provisions, which became effective January 1, 2012, puts those receiving HCBS on equal footing with individuals residing in institutions.  See the National Senior Citizens Law Center's summary for more information. 

National Institutes of Health: New Center Established
With the enactment of the fiscal year 2012 spending bill, NIH announced the establishment of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).  While the effort to recruit an NCATS director continues, organizational changes and realignment of resources will move forward under the leadership of NCATS Acting Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Acting Deputy Director Kathy Hudson, Ph.D., deputy director for science, outreach, and policy at the NIH.  NIH has posted additional information about NCATS - including links to the Dec. 23 announcement, an FAQ document, and the NCATS website.

Its creation marks the end of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), which led to a NIH-wide reorganization.  The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) will absorb some programs from the former NCRR.  The January 4 announcement regarding the NIGMS reorganization is available here. 

Representative John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, released draft legislation Friday to rewrite the nation's main education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind.  Incorporating related bills introduced last year, the two measures aim to reduce federal involvement in education by eliminating more than 40 federal education programs and giving states nearly 100 percent flexibility in using federal funds.  But the proposal also addresses the law's two most controversial pieces: accountability and teacher evaluations.  The draft allows states to craft their own accountability systems and essentially eliminates the federal role in intervening in struggling schools.  So far, no Democrats have announced support for the legislation.  For more information and links to summaries and draft language, see the Committee press release. 

AUCD Welcomes 2012 Policy Fellow
AUCD is pleased to welcome the 2012 Disability Leadership Policy Fellow, Kristina Majewski, JD.  Before coming to AUCD, Kristina served as the first LEND Law Fellow of the RFK UCEDD in the Bronx, focusing her research on the transition from special education to adulthood, as well as the state of available housing options and deinstitutionalization efforts.  She received her BA in Economics (minor in Social Work) from New York University in 2008.  In May 2011, she received her Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan, where she focused her studies on education and disability rights law.  She is also the proud sibling of two adolescents with special needs and an expert on the day-to-day challenges that they experience.  As the 2012 Policy Fellow, Kristina will assist the legislative affairs staff in the areas of education, employment and housing. 

2012 Disability Policy Seminar: Mark Your Calendar!
Save the date!
The 2012 Disability Policy Seminar is just around the corner.  Plan to join us in Washington, D.C. April 23-25 for the ultimate gathering of advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This year, we'll be focusing on presidential election-year issues and how to make a difference with grassroots advocacy.  The Seminar begins with two days packed full of informational and educational sessions on critical legislative issues facing the I/DD community from some of the foremost experts in disability policy.  It culminates with participants taking their concerns directly to Capitol Hill in meetings with elected representatives.  On March 28, AUCD will host a webinar to help you get the most out of your time in D.C.  Registration for the Seminar and the pre-event Webinar will open soon, but you can book your room at The Grand Hyatt now at Watch for more information about the seminar in upcoming issues of In Brief.


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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