AUCD Legislative News In Brief

July 2, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  July 2, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 26
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive  | RSS  |  AUCD InBrief Archive

Congressional Schedule
Members of Congress are in their home states/districts this week for the Independence Day holiday. 

Affordable Care Act Decision
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision on constitutional challenges to portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  In a 5-4 opinion, the Court upheld the law's requirement that most people purchase health insurance by 2014 as a permissible use of the federal government's taxing power.  The Court also held that the law's Medicaid expansion is constitutional, but set limitations on how the provisions could be enforced.  Under the ruling, states no longer risk losing all of their federal Medicaid funding if they choose not to expand eligibility to cover those with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  This means that some states may elect not to expand Medicaid coverage.  However, states still have a strong incentive to expand because the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, with that percentage gradually reducing to 90 percent for 2020 and beyond.  AUCD and the disability community view the decision as a major victory, affirming one of the most important legislative accomplishments for people with disabilities since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  AUCD issued a press statement applauding the decision and has updated its Health Reform Hub with information and discussion on the Court's decision concerning the Medicaid expansion.

Update: Hearing on Restraint & Seclusion in Schools
The Senate hearing entitled "Beyond Seclusion and Restraint: Creating Positive Learning Environments for All Students" has been postponed until July 12 due to the Supreme Court issuing its health care decision on the scheduled date of the hearing. 

Disability Treaty
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, set a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for Thursday, July 12.  The White House transmitted a
treaty package requesting the advice and consent of the Senate for ratification of the CRPD on May 17 (See June 4th In Brief).  The hearing is the next major step toward ratification.  If the treaty is approved by the Committee, it will need 67 votes to pass the full Senate.  AUCD continues to work with the CCD International Task Force and the U.S. International Committee on Disabilities to educate each senator about the Convention and the need to support its ratification.  Please visit AUCD's action center to contact your Senators about the CRPD. 

HCBS Regulations
AUCD submitted comments (due today) on the proposed rule regarding the Medicaid Program State Plan Home and Community-Based Services and Setting Requirements for Community First Choice published in the Federal Register on May 3, 2012.  In general, AUCD's comments support the direction that CMS has taken in defining home and community-based services (HCBS) and incorporating the values of the ADA, Developmental Disabilities Act, and other civil rights laws into these services.  AUCD's comments provide specific recommendations to improve the clarity and strength of the rule.  AUCD's comments were developed by a workgroup of the Legislative Affairs Committee. 
Read the full comments.

Transportation & Student Loan Rates
After months of gridlock, Congress finally passed legislation to reauthorize surface transportation programs and included provisions to freeze student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for one year.  Under the measure, transportation programs are funded through fiscal year 2014 at mostly current levels, with some programs getting boosts for inflation.  The legislation was finalized just in time; on Saturday, another short-term transportation extension expired and student loan rates were set to double.

Proposed ADA Amendments
The House Subcommittee on the Constitution held a
hearing Tuesday on the ACCESS Act (H.R. 3356), a bill to amend Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to require that notice and a compliance opportunity be provided to business owners before a customer can bring a lawsuit claiming structural barriers to entry in a public accommodation.  The bill's sponsor, Representative Dan Lungren (R-CA), testified during the hearing that H.R. 3356 is a common sense solution to abusive lawsuits brought against small businesses.  Two other witnesses mirrored Rep. Lungren's sentiments.  Andy Levy, a partner at a private law firm, testified in opposition to the bill, stating that it would remove all incentives business owners have to comply with ADA regulations.  AUCD continues to monitor the bill closely. 

Community Living
Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) recently introduced the Children's Mental Health Accessibility Act, S. 3289, bipartisan legislation to expand the Medicaid home and community-based services waiver to include youth in, or at risk of, placement in an institution called a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF).  Aligned with the Americans with Disabilities Act's integration mandate and the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead decision, the waiver is a mechanism for states to shift their spending on children with serious mental health disorders from PRTFs to services in home and community-based settings.  The legislation would also eliminate the outdated term "mentally retarded" as it is referenced in the Medicaid waiver statute and replace it with "intellectually disabled."  The disability rights community applauds this legislation as an important step forward in assuring the dignity of people with intellectual disabilities.  To contact your Senators and urge them to co-sponsor the bill, visit the
action center for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. 

CMS Informational Bulletin

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued an informational bulletin on new housing resources to support Olmstead implementation.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide the housing support individuals need to help them remain in the community.  The bulletin describes recent HUD actions, policies and resources that are available as states develop strategies to balance their long-term services and supports systems.

DOJ Housing Settlement
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last Monday the largest ever disability-based housing discrimination settlement fund in its history of cases brought under the Fair Housing Act.  In 2009, the DOJ brought suit against Texas-based JPI Construction and its 6 affiliates (JPI) on grounds of discriminating on the basis of disability when it designed and constructed multifamily housing complexes without considering accessibility.  Trial was set for July 9, 2012, but the parties reached an agreement outside of court just two weeks prior to the trial date.  Under the settlement, JPI will pay over $10 million into an accessibility fund which will be used to make its properties accessible and increase the availability and number of accessible housing units.  Additionally, the settlement forbids JPI from discriminating on the basis of disability in the future and from preventing the work going forward to fix the properties.  For more information, see the
DOJ Press Release.   

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
We now have over 40 disability and aging organizations as co-sponsors of the Forum.  The planning committee continues to work on commitments of the candidates.  If you have personal connections with the candidates or their campaign staff or would like to co-sponsor the Forum, please contact
Kim Musheno.  For general information on the forum read the FAQ on AUCD's homepage.  To further 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:

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910