AUCD Legislative News In Brief

January 30, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  January 30, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 5
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Congressional Schedule
The House will vote on a measure to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act this week (See CLASS Act below).  Selected members from both chambers continue negotiations on extensions of the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits this week.  AUCD is monitoring the negotiations because the tax cut impacts the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, and some have expressed concern that lawmakers could try to use health reform funds to pay for the measure.  The President is expected to release his budget request for fiscal year 2013 on February 13. 

State of the Union
President Obama delivered his State of the Union address on Tuesday, stressing economic equity and fairness and urging Congress to set aside partisan differences.  He called for reducing the deficit in a balanced way that asks everyone to do their part, as well as strengthening economic recovery by extending the payroll tax cut that will expire on February 29.  The President also emphasized the need to streamline training and employment services for dislocated workers and challenged states to take action on education policies.  The President did not specifically mention people with disabilities or some of the most pressing issues to the community, such as threats to Medicaid and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  In conjunction with the address, the White House released the President's "Blueprint for an America Built to Last", outlining the policies he emphasized in the State of the Union. 

The House of Representatives postponed its consideration of a bill (H.R. 1173) to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act last week.  The House is scheduled to begin consideration of the bill tomorrow and vote on Wednesday.  A companion bill in the Senate (S. 720) has only Republican cosponsors, suggesting that the measure may not move in that chamber.  The program's advocates, and most Democratic lawmakers, have argued that CLASS should be maintained as a framework for a solution to the nation's growing long-term services needs.  Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) issued the following statement: "The CLASS Act may not be perfect, but repealing this important long-term care law without a real alternative in place ignores the needs of millions of seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers, leaving them out in the cold."  The CLASS Act creates a national, voluntary insurance program to help people pay for long-term services and supports when they have or develop functional impairments.  AUCD joined a number of national organizations in signing a letter opposing the repeal measure.  Please visit
AUCD's Action Center to contact your Representative about H.R. 1173.

Social Security Disability Insurance
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security held the second
hearing in a series Tuesday on the future of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, focusing on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) efforts to minimize improper payments and waste, fraud and abuse.  Carolyn Colvin, SSA Deputy Commissioner, and Patrick P. O'Carroll, SSA Inspector General, testified about the SSA's plans to maintain the integrity and sustainability of its system.  These plans include the completion of close to 600,000 medical continuing reviews to ensure continued eligibility, and the implementation of cooperative disability investigation (CDI) programs.  In connection with recent SSA findings that close to half of the families receiving benefits rely on them as a majority of their income, Ms. Colvin urged Congress to continue funding SSA so it can continue to meet the increasing demand for SSI and SSDI.  Chairman Johnson stated his concern that the disability trust fund is projected to run out of money by 2018.  Democrats argue that the narrow focus on waste, fraud and abuse is misplaced, and worry that it may be part of efforts to justify heavy cuts to the program.  In fiscal year 2010, overpayments accounted for only about one percent of benefits awarded, according to the Government Accountability Office.  Currently, lawmakers are hearing from a number of experts on ways to save the DI program without having to cut benefits or raise taxes, such as providing appropriate accommodations to keep individuals with disabilities working and taxing employers at different rates based on how often their employees file for disability. 

Family Support
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced last week a bill (S. 2037) to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, the law that authorizes the National Family Caregiver Support Program to provide information and assistance to caregivers in accessing available services, counseling, respite care and other types of support.  Unfortunately, because caregivers of persons with disabilities under the age of 60 are not eligible for the program, many cannot access these important services.  AUCD will be working with others to expand eligibility to caregivers of persons with disabilities under age 60.

Civil Rights Litigation
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it reached a settlement agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia to resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The agreement requires Virginia to expand community-based services to serve people with developmental disabilities in their homes or other integrated community settings.  These expansions include the creation of 4,170 new home and community-based waiver slots and an individual and family support program for 8,700 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities most at risk of institutional placement. 

Disability advocates filed a class action lawsuit (Lane v. Kitzhaber) in U.S. District Court last week, charging state officials with violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide supported employment services to more than 2,300 state residents with disabilities who currently work in segregated, facility-based settings and receive pay below the minimum wage.  The plaintiffs in the case are requesting that the court require the state to provide "an adequate array of integrated employment and supported employment services, as to avoid unnecessary segregation."  For more information, see the complaint.

2012 Disability Policy Seminar: Registration Now Open!
Plan to join us in Washington, D.C. April 23-25 for the ultimate gathering of advocates for people with disabilities.  This year, we'll be focusing on election-year issues and how to make a difference with grassroots advocacy.    On March 28, AUCD will host a webinar to help you get the most out of your time in D.C.  Click here to register for the webinar.  You can register for the Seminar and book your room at The Grand Hyatt now at


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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