AUCD Legislative News In Brief

June 25, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  June 25, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 25
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Congressional Schedule
Both the House and Senate are in session this week.  The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold Wednesday the fourth hearing in a series entitled "Securing the Future of the Disability Insurance Program," focusing on the disability appeals process.  The Senate will hold a hearing on the issue of the use of restraints and seclusion in schools.

Affordable Care Act Decision
The U.S. Supreme Court held off issuing its decision today in the case challenging the constitutionality of portions of the health reform law.  The Court is expected to deliver its opinion on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.  To learn about some of the important provisions that may be affected by the decision, visit our Affordable Care Act: Get the Facts page.

Budget & Appropriations
AUCD has completed its summary of the fiscal 2013 Senate appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies.  The Appropriations Committee approved the bill the week of June 10, providing an overall funding level of $158.8 billion.  The bill keeps most disability programs within the Department at level-funding with some priorities receiving increases.  IDEA state grants would receive a $100 million increase and Part C early intervention gets a significant $20 million boost. The House Appropriations Committee has postponed its markup of its bill;  Chairman Denny Rehberg's (R-MT) new goal is to mark up in early July.  However, most appropriations legislation is not expected to move forward until after the November elections. 

Hearing on Restraint & Seclusion in Schools
On Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing entitled "Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students."  The hearing will focus on alternatives to the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.  Daniel Crimmins, PhD, Past President of AUCD and Director of the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, will testify.  AUCD strongly supports legislation introduced by HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) to reduce restraint and seclusion in schools, the Keeping All Students Safe Act (S. 2020).  The House companion bill, H.R. 1381, has bipartisan support but has not been considered by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  Visit AUCD's Action Center to ask your members of Congress to support these bills.  For more information, visit AUCD's policy page on this issue.

Olmstead Hearing and Anniversary
In honor of the 13th anniversary of the Olmstead decision on June 22, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing Thursday entitled "
Olmstead Enforcement Update: Using the ADA to Promote Community Integration."  During the hearing, Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, testified that "It is not enough to move people out of institutions; we must ensure that individuals have the support and services that they need to lead successful lives in the community," and discussed the Department's work to enforce the Olmstead decision (testimony).  Henry Claypool, Principal Deputy Administrator at the Administration for Community Living discussed the Dept. of Health and Human Service's collaboration with other agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address barriers to community living (testimony).  A second panel of witnesses further discussed barriers and solutions to community integration.  Read all witness testimony and watch the hearing webcast here.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius posted on the White House blog about the anniversary, affirming the Administration's commitment to "...move forward until the promise of Olmstead is a reality for all Americans."  Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee requested a report from the Government Accountability Office on "States Plans to Pursue New and Revised Options for Home- and Community-Based Services."  The report discusses implementation of the HCBS reforms in the Affordable Care Act. 

Hearing on Military Families with Children with Disabilities
The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, chaired by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), held a
hearing Thursday on the issues impacting military families with children with disabilities.  The hearing focused on coverage of applied behavior analysis (ABA) for Autism Spectrum Disorders by TRICARE, the military's health care program.  Several witnesses discussed the research on the effectiveness of ABA and various systems' classification of ABA as either an educational or medical therapy.  The federal government's civilian workforce will be offered autism insurance benefits starting in 2013 as a result of a decision by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that ABA is a medical therapy and, therefore, an eligible benefit.  Another witness described the unique challenges faced by military families, including TRICARE's annual caps on ABA therapy, loss of coverage for ABA when their military status changes and moving to the bottom of state Medicaid waiting lists with each of their frequent relocations.  Autism Speaks has also prepared a thorough summary of the hearing with additional fact sheets on the issue.

In related news, on May 17 Rep. John Larson (D-CT) offered an amendment to the House Defense authorization bill that was approved by unanimous consent.  The amendment includes the major components of the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (H.R. 2288).  Larson's amendment clarifies that coverage under TRICARE should include behavioral health treatments for autism, including ABA. It also removes the insurance cap on ABA.  The next step is for the Senate to include a similar amendment.  Advocates anticipate that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will offer a similar amendment in the Senate during committee markup.

AUCD Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership
AUCD continues to accept applications for the 2013 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow.  The deadline for applications is
July 30, 2012.  For more information and to apply, click here.

Save the Date: National Forum on Disability Issues
For general information on the forum contact
Kristina Majewski at AUCD or read the FAQ on AUCD's homepage.  To support the forum, like it on Facebook!  

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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