AUCD Legislative News In Brief

October 15, 2012

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  October 15, 2012   |  Vol. XII, Issue 41
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A bipartisan group of eight senators known on Capitol Hill as the "Gang of Eight" concluded three days of meetings Thursday.  The group's aim is to find a compromise to address the looming tax and spending issues some are calling the "fiscal cliff."  This term refers to the numerous tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year combined with the sequestration (automatic spending cuts) scheduled to take place on January 2nd.  During their meetings, the senators heard from Sen. Alan K. Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the former co-chairmen of the special commission that worked toward a bipartisan deficit reduction plan.  The group is reportedly using the Simpson-Bowles proposal as a starting point for their discussions.  The senators involved in the discussions are Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Michael Crapo (R-ID), and Mike Johanns (R-NE).  The direction and success of the plan will be influenced heavily by the results of the elections.  CCD fiscal policy leaders, including AUCD staff, are visiting with Members of this group, along with other Budget Committee Members, to advocate for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects programs that assist people with disabilities to be healthy, independent, and productive in the community.

Health Care and the Election
The Alliance for Health Reform recently published "
The Presidential HealthCare Plans: What You Need to Know," a toolkit discussing the Presidential healthcare plans and providing "fast facts" on the parties' positions on key healthcare issues, including insurance coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Regarding Medicaid, former Governor Mitt Romney plans to structure Medicaid as a block grant to states, providing them with a capped amount of federal funding that would likely force states to limit eligibility, services and/or provider reimbursement rates.  Conversely, through the health reform law, President Obama would support states to expand Medicaid coverage for those with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  Visit AUCD's Health Reform Hub for more resources on health reform and its implementation.

So far, 33 states have been approved for the U.S. Department of Education's ESEA Flexibility plan, allowing them to waive certain requirements in the nation's main education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, known as No Child Left Behind).  These states were granted flexibility in meeting the law's stringent accountability guidelines in exchange for adopting policies that the Department believes will improve academic achievement.  The National Center for Learning Disabilities has begun analyzing the approved waiver agreements from a disability perspective; a summary of the first 11 is available on NCLD's website.  The agreements for all 33 states are available on the Department's website. 

National Forum on Disability Issues: Transcript available
If you didn't get a chance to tune into the Presidential Forum on Disability Issues live, the complete video and transcript from the event are now available.  The video is on You Tube and broken into segments based on speakers.  Moderator Frank Sesno asked Ted Kennedy, Jr. and Cathy McMorris Rodgers many questions on health, Medicaid and Home and Community-Based Services. Each candidates' responses on the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid block grants, rebalancing, and broader financing of Long-Term Services and Supports are different and should be of interest to many in the disability community.  There was also mention of the direct care workforce by some of the candidates.  A number of pictures from the event are available on the Forum's Facebook page.


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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