AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 13, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 13, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 7
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Congressional Schedule
The Congress is in session this week but out for the Presidents' Day recess next week.  The President's budget for Fiscal Year 2013 was released at Noon today.  The conference committee negotiating extensions of the Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits will continue to meet this week.  News sources report that the committee has completed its review of the policies but has not finalized plans to cover the costs of the extensions.  AUCD is monitoring the negotiations because the tax cut impacts the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, and some lawmakers have proposed taking funds from the health reform law to pay for the measure. 

Budget and Appropriations
Today, President Obama transmitted his FY 2013 budget request to Congress.  The Developmental Disabilities (DD) Act programs (UCEDDs, DD Councils, and Protection & Advocacy) are level-funded in the FY 13 President's Budget.  University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) would receive $39 million, the same as FY 2012.  DD councils are funded at $75 million; and Protection & Advocacy at $41 million.  The Projects of National Significance (PNS) is funded at $8 million, the same amount as FY 2012 but $6.8 million less than in FY 2011.  The HRSA Autism and Developmental Disabilities program that funds Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs is funded at $47 million.  This is the same amount appropriated in FY 2012.  The FY 2013 Budget maintains funding for the National Institutes of Health at $30.9 billion. AUCD continues to analyze the entire budget and will provide funding levels for other programs important to the network and further analysis soon.

Ten States Receive Waivers from No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday the first ten states that will receive waivers from some requirements of the nation's main education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known as No Child Left Behind.  Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee were all granted flexibility in exchange for adopting reforms around college and career-ready standards, teacher and principal evaluation and accountability systems.  The Department continues to work with New Mexico, the eleventh state that applied for the first round of waivers.  The Obama Administration decided to offer states flexibility from the law after efforts to reform ESEA stalled in Congress.  President Obama spoke to a group of stakeholders about the announcement, mentioning that these ten states will be "focusing on low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities -- not just to make sure that those children don't fall through the cracks, but to make sure they have every opportunity to go as far as their talents will take them."  While the states' plans do contain protections for minority students and students with disabilities, some advocates are concerned about how the policies will be implemented.  The states' approved requests and related documents, as well as information about the second round of submissions, can be found on the Department's website.  So far, 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have submitted intent to apply in the second round; those requests are due February 21. 

House ESEA Bills Introduced
Also on Thursday, House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced two education reform bills, completing a package of legislation to overhaul ESEA.  The bills are little changed from drafts that were released last month.  According to the
bill summary, the Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) "will dramatically reduce the federal role in education."  It would allow states to create their own accountability systems and eliminate current requirements that teachers be highly qualified.  The Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990, summary) would eliminate more than 70 existing elementary and secondary programs and reforms policies around teacher evaluation systems.  So far, the bills have not attracted any Democratic support.  The Education and Workforce committee will hold a hearing on the bills on Thursday.

Health Care Reform
AUCD signed onto
comments from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health Task Force in response to a recent bulletin from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Essential Health Benefits.  Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires that health plans offered in the individual and small group markets, both inside and outside of state exchanges, offer a comprehensive package of items and services known as "essential health benefits" (EHBs).  The law lists ten categories of benefits, including "rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices" and "behavioral health services", and directs HHS to define them.  In its bulletin, HHS proposed using a benchmark approach to define EHBs, giving states flexibility to select a benchmark plan that reflects the scope of services offered by a typical employer plan.  CCD's comments express concern with this flexibility, particularly the minimal language referring to federal oversight standards.  The comments make a number of recommendations, including establishing a strong monitoring system to ensure compliance with non-discrimination provisions in ACA and clarifying definitions for the benefit categories.  Visit AUCD's Health Reform Hub for up-to-date information on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

2012 Disability Policy Seminar
Plan to join us in Washington, D.C. April 23-25 for the ultimate gathering of advocates for people with disabilities.  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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