AUCD Legislative News In Brief

February 18, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  February 18, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 7
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are in recess this week and will return February 25.

State of the Union

President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 12. The speech focused primarily on his domestic agenda, growing the economy, and job creation. While never specifically mentioning people with disabilities, the president made several proposals that could impact people with disabilities if carried forward into legislation. These include universal early childhood for families at or below 200% of the federal poverty line; the creation of a new Early Head Start-Child Care initiative; and an expansion of home visitation through the Nurse Family Partnerships program, a bipartisan commission to improve the voting experience, and Medicare reforms to save costs. His other major proposals include action to tackle climate change, gun control, tax reform, and raising the minimum wage. The full text, audio, and video are available on

Sequestration Update

The sequester ($85 billion across-the-board spending cuts) remains scheduled to take effect March 1. The President has urged Congress to take action and Democrats in the Senate have created a proposal to avert the cuts. The Senate bill, the American Family Economic Protection Act, would delay the sequester through the end of this year through a mix of spending cuts and tax increases, including raising effective rates on income over $1 million, reforms to corporate taxes, and cuts to defense and agriculture subsidies. There would be no cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security. However, Senate Republicans have rejected the proposal and are rumored to be developing their own proposal.  Given that there is currently no proposal that both sides can agree on, it appears likely that the cuts will occur, at least for a short time while a deal is being crafted.  Following are resources on the impact of the sequestration:

Long-term Care Commission Appointees

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have named their picks for the Long Term Care Commission created by the American Tax Relief Act, also known as the "fiscal cliff deal" (see January 7 In Brief). House Speaker John Boehner has named Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute; Judy Brachman, a former director of the Ohio Department of Aging; and Stephen Guillard, a nursing home executive. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has named Louisiana Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein; Mark Warshawsky, a Treasury official under President George W. Bush; and Neil Pruitt, chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt Corporation. For the top Democratic picks, see last week's In Brief. The Administration has yet to announce their appointees.


AUCD joined over 30 national disability rights organizations in signing onto a letter applauding the reintroduction of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647), in the 113th Congress. The ABLE Act establishes a new subsection within Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code to allow individuals with disabilities to establish ABLE accounts to fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community-based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The ABLE Act will enable secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of the designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurance, the Medicaid program, the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI), the beneficiary's employment, and other sources. For more information and ways to help educate your members of Congress, please see AUCD's action alert and fact sheets developed by the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination.

FASD bill

Three senators have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at research, prevention, and services for people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mark Begich (D-AK) have reintroduced the Advancing FASD Research, Prevention, and Services Act. The bill has been introduced in previous sessions but never passed. The bill would require the National Institutes of Health to develop a research agenda focused on FASD prevention, screening, and services. It would also provide grants to determine and implement best practices in education for children with FASD, as well as grants to support employment, housing, and other services for adults with FASD.  AUCD will be sending a support letter to the bill's co-sponsor.

 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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