AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 5, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 5, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 10
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Congressional Schedule
The House and Senate are in session this week. The Senate continues work on a bill to reauthorize funding for public transportation (see Transportation below).  House and Senate appropriations subcommittees will continue hearings on the President's FY 2013 Budget.  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify in both chambers on the President's budget proposal for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee.  A House Workforce Protections Subcommittee will hold a
hearing Thursday on proposed regulations regarding wages for companion care workers; witnesses have not yet been announced.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved Tuesday two bills to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind).  The Student Success Act (H.R. 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (H.R. 3990) would eliminate a number of requirements in NCLB, including those that have led to increased inclusion and academic gains for students with disabilities.  AUCD is opposed to both bills.  The next step is for the full House to consider the bills.  In the Senate, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize ESEA earned committee approval last October, but the bill has not yet reached the Senate floor.  With significant differences between the House and Senate bills, it is unclear how much movement they will see this year. 

Family Support - Family to Family Health Information Centers
Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced bills to reauthorize Family to Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) for an additional three years (through FY 2015) at current funding levels.  The House bill (H.R. 4083) has 6 cosponsors; the Senate bill (S. 2123) has 5, with one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  Family-to-Family Health Information Centers are non-profit, family-staffed organizations that help families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) navigate the health care system to get appropriate services.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)'s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) provides the primary funding support for the Centers, as authorized by the Family Opportunity Act (FOA), legislation signed into law in 2006 as a part of the Deficit Reduction Act.  Through this funding, HRSA's MCHB currently supports F2F HICs in all states and the District of Columbia.  More bipartisan cosponsors are needed to move this bill forward, especially members of the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance Committees that have jurisdiction over the bills.

Congress continues to negotiate legislation to extend the
Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Act  (PL 109-59), the nation's current surface transportation law.  This law funds several federal formula grant programs that support mobility for people with disabilities: the New Freedom Program, the Transportation for Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities program, and the Job Access Reverse Commute program.  Earlier this year, both the House and Senate introduced bills proposing to consolidate these programs.  Disability advocates are concerned that consolidation could reduce the proportion of funds that go toward supporting accessibility improvements for people with disabilities.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month! 
Twenty-five years ago, on February 26, 1987, President Reagan declared March Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.  In this election year, AUCD urges advocates to help inform our elected federal officials about the challenges faced by people with disabilities.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to locate and email your Members of Congress.  The Action Center's online Election Guide is also available to help visitors find links to the presidential candidates' profiles and webpages, an option to contact each candidate, and a map of the United States that lists important primary and registration dates for each state. 

Analysis of Presidential Candidates
Last week, U.S. Budget Watch released an in-depth analysis, Primary Numbers, of how the four Republican candidates' proposals would impact the national debt and deficit.  The report also provides a snapshot of each candidate's proposals related to education, housing, health and entitlement programs that impact people with disabilities.  U.S. Budget Watch is a project of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public about issues that have significant fiscal policy impact.  The Committee includes many of the past directors of Congressional Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Federal Reserve Board.  AUCD is also involved in collecting candidate answers to a survey about their views on long-term services and supports.  The five questions and responses received to date are available at  

Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts
This month, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will turn two.  This landmark health reform law, better known as the Affordable Care Act or simply the ACA, has faced skepticism and criticism from many, but few Americans truly understand what is in the law.  The ACA contains many provisions that will help ensure accessible, comprehensive, affordable, non-discriminatory coverage for consumers, especially people with disabilities.  AUCD offers facts about the law and its implementation in this new section of In Brief.

Lifetime and Annual Limits
The ACA prohibits all insurers from placing lifetime limits (a dollar limit on what they would spend for your covered benefits during the entire time you are enrolled in that plan) on most benefits, including ambulatory and emergency services; mental health and substance use disorder services; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; hospitalization; prescription drugs; and preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.  The ACA also places restrictions on annual limits (a dollar limit on what insurers would spend for your covered benefits during a year) until 2014, at which time annual limits will be prohibited.  However, "grandfathered" health plans - in this case, an individual health insurance policy (not obtained through an employer) that was issued on or before March 23, 2010 - do not have to follow the rules on annual limits. Today, HHS released a new report on how the ACA has eliminated lifetime limits for more than 105 million Americans, including state-by-state data.

Disability Policy Seminar
Hurry and
book your room at the Grand Hyatt for the 2012 Disability Policy Seminar!  The Grand Hyatt is now sold out on Wednesday night (April 25) but available the other nights of our conference. Check out the Program at a Glance and register now at  Planning is also underway for a reception on Sunday following a special AUCD trainee seminar and a reception on Capitol Hill Tuesday night.  Early bird registration rates end March 20.

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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