AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 12, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 12, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 11
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Congressional Schedule
The House of Representatives is in recess or "district work period" this week.  This is a good time to meet with Representatives while they in their home states, especially if they are on the
Appropriations Committee (see AUCD's funding issue briefs for talking points).  The Senate is in session and leaders hope to finish work on surface transportation reauthorization.  Appropriations subcommittees will continue hearings on federal department budgets.  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will testify before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Budget & Appropriations
The budget and appropriations process continues to be caught up in partisan, election-year politics.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has stated that it is not necessary to pass a budget resolution this year because the Budget Control Act set the overall caps on discretionary spending ($1.047 trillion for FY 2013).  However, fiscally conservative House members are pushing for even lower caps on spending.  Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is expected to release a budget next week that could set the cap at $1.028 trillion.  Both sides are trying to find enough individual line item savings to avoid the automatic across-the-board cuts (sequester) that will be triggered in January if the $1.047 trillion cap is not reached.  Some Republicans are trying to change the law so that Defense spending is not included in a sequester.  That would mean that all of the cuts would come from domestic discretionary, the pot of money that funds all the research, education, training and many disability programs.  In this environment, disability advocates must continue educating elected officials about the negative impact of extreme cuts to programs that support people with disabilities to be independent, productive, and integrated in the community. 

Education - Restraint & Seclusion
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released the Civil Rights Data Collection for the 2009-2010 school year, including district- and school-level data from nearly 7,000 districts.  It is a representative sample covering approximately 85% of the nation's students, disaggregated by race, ethnicity, English learner status, sex and disability (under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504).  For the first time, the report includes data about restraint and seclusion in schools.  As highlighted in the Department's summary, students with disabilities represent 12% of students in the sample, but nearly 70% of students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools.  Students with disabilities are also more than twice as likely to receive out-of-school suspensions.  State and National estimations based on the data will be posted to the Data Collection website soon.

Last week, the National Disability Rights Network issued an updated report in its School is Not Supposed to Hurt series.  The new report outlines why restraint and seclusion continue to be a serious national problem and calls on the U.S. Department of Education to do more to prevent these techniques in schools. 

Health Care Reform
HHS Publishes Exchange Regulations
HHS published today a final rule on Affordable Health Insurance Exchanges, the new state-based competitive marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.  The rule offers guidance about the options on how to structure Exchanges, including setting standards for their establishment, performing the basic functions of an Exchange, certifying health plans for participation in the Exchange and establishing a streamlined, web-based system for consumers to apply for and enroll in qualified health plan through the Exchange.  A majority of states have already taken steps to build Exchanges. 
Click here for more information on Exchanges and the final rule.

CMS Issues Funding to Promote Home- and Community-Based Services
As part of a recent health care initiative to help seniors and people with disabilities live in their communities, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that a total of $3 billion dollars will be available to states, under the ACA's Balancing Incentives Payment Program, to operate home and community-based programs.  Currently, federal Medicaid law requires that states pay for institutional care, while home and community-based supports remain optional.  Last week, CMS
announced that New Hampshire would be the first state to receive Medicaid grant dollars to expand community services and supports.  CMS hope more states will apply for the funding.  Only states that currently spend less than 50% of their long-term care costs on community-based options are eligible for these grants. 

Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts
AUCD offers facts about the law and its implementation in this new section of In Brief.

The ACA prohibits insurance companies from canceling, or rescinding, someone's coverage after the individual files a claim because of an alleged error or misstatement on their coverage application.  Under the ACA, rescissions will only be permitted when the consumer makes a deliberate misrepresentation on his/her application. 

Patient Protections
The ACA guarantees that individuals will be able to choose their primary care doctor or pediatrician from the health plan's provider network.  It ensures that consumers can see an obstetrician or gynecologist without needing referral from another doctor.  Finally, the ACA ensures that consumers can seek emergency care at a hospital outside the plan's network without prior approval.  The ACA ensures that plans cannot charge higher copayments or co-insurance for out-of-network emergency room services.  These rules are intended to ensure that individuals have more control over their care and are not penalized if they get sick or injured while away from home.

Disability Policy Seminar
There is much at stake in the upcoming elections, making it more important than ever to make your voices heard on the Hill at this year's Disability Policy Seminar.  Remember to make appointments for your Hill visits on April 25 before you arrive.  A Capitol Hill reception is also now scheduled for Tuesday evening as part of your registration fee.  If you have already registered for the Seminar, we
need your RSVP for this special event. If you have not yet registered, please visit and sign up today. Be sure to book your room today at the Grand Hyatt as the room block is filling up fast!  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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