AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 25, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 25, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 12
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Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in recess for Passover/Easter. The Senate returns April 8 and the House returns April 9.

Continuing Resolution

On Thursday March 21, Congress approved the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 933), which provides funding for the remainder of FY 2013 (Mar. 27-Sept. 30). The CR continues the sequestration that began on March 1 for the remainder of FY 2013. It also provides funding for most federal agencies at FY 2012 levels minus a small across the board reduction. However, the CR provides increased funding for some agencies and programs. Specifically:

  • National Institutes of Health +$71 million
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) +$150 million
  • Child Care and Development Block Grants +$50 million
  • Head Start +$33.5 million

The CR also included $27 million for the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program and $7 million for the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program. The two programs have been on hold since mid-2012 due to an expiration of authorization for funding. The CR will allow the programs to restart their work. AUCD will continue to advocate for the highest possible funding levels for the AUCD network and other programs that impact people with disabilities and their families.

House and Senate Budget Resolutions

The House and Senate have each introduced and passed their respective budget resolutions. The resolutions, introduced by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA), represent drastically different ideas for the future of the United States and the supports that people with disabilities rely on live and work. For more information on the two plans, see last week's In Brief and AUCD's comparison and summary. The Senate passed the budget by 50-49 at 5am on Saturday, March 23 after an all-night "vote-a-rama." Senate rules allow for unlimited amendments on budget resolutions, although the votes on amendments are only symbolic because the resolution does not become a law. The next step is for the President to release his budget request and for the House and Senate to work together to produce a Concurrent Budget Resolution. If Congress cannot decide on a concurrent resolution by May 15, the 12 appropriations committees can begin writing appropriations legislation using the Budget Control Act baseline.

Social Security

As budget negotiations continue in Washington, many people continue to discuss changing the way the government calculates cost of living adjustments. Many, including President Obama, have proposed a change in these calculations from the traditional Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation to the "chained CPI". The chained CPI would use different assumptions about consumption patterns to arrive at a lower estimate of price inflation, resulting in lower cost-of-living increases for beneficiaries. A number of new resources help explain this technical but important change in benefit calculation. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities will be holding a webinar to explain the Chained CPI called The Chained CPI: A Cut to Social Security, SSI, and Other Vital Benefits on March 27 at 2pm Eastern Time. AARP has introduced a Chained CPI Calculator, to help beneficiaries determine how much their benefits would change under the chained CPI. Finally, The Arc has developed a National Policy Matters brief on the chained CPI and what disability advocates need to know.

Affordable Care Act

On March 23, the Affordable Care Act turned three years old! AUCD is celebrating, wishing a happy  birthday to ending discrimination against people with disabilities in health plans, ending yearly and lifetime caps on benefits, ending the exclusion of people with pre-existing conditions, and expanding access to coverage for all. You can celebrate too by joining the Families USA ACA Anniversary Party in a week of online actions, including an ACA fact quiz, sharing your story, and sending "Happy Birthday" tweets using #ACAturns3.

Balancing Incentive Program

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved four more states for the Balancing Incentive Program, bringing the total number of states participating in the program to 13. Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, and Louisiana join New Hampshire, Maryland, Idaho, Texas, Missouri, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, and Mississippi in the program. The Balancing Incentive Program offers states additional resources through an increased federal Medicaid matching rate for home and community-based services, if the state commits to increasing access to these services.  States are eligible for the Balancing Incentive Program if less than 50 percent of their total long-term care spending goes toward home and community-based services. The enhanced Medicaid payments must be spent increasing the availability of home and community-based services for Medicaid beneficiaries with long-term needs.  States can still apply for the program through August 1, 2014.

Civil Rights/Access

Senator Tom Harkin has introduced two bills to expand captioning and video description in movie theaters and on airplanes. The Captioning and Image Narration to Enhance Movie Accessibility (CINEMA Act) would amend Title III of the ADA to require captioning and video description to be available at all showings in theaters of two or more screens. The Air Carrier Access Amendments Act would require that air carriers make captioning and video description available for all in-flight entertainment programming. Video description allows individuals who are blind or visually impaired to access visual elements of programming through audio narration of the visual elements of a program.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Representatives Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) and Thomas Rooney (R-FL) have introduced the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 1098). The TBI Act, first passed in 1996 and last reauthorized in 2008, currently authorizes program in the Health Resources and  Services Administration (HRSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research and provide services to people with TBI and their families. The law also authorizes HRSA to make grants for the Protection and Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury (PATBI) program. The reauthorization would move TBI programs out of the Maternal and Child Health Children's Program to acknowledge the impact of TBI across the lifespan, including older adults and returning service members/veterans.

Policy Seminar

The Disability Policy Seminar is coming up April 15-17. AUCD's trainee symposium and reception will be held on Sunday night from 4-7:30pm. Delivering the keynote address on Monday morning will be Judy Feder, a nationally-recognized expert and leader in health policy and appointee to the new Long Term Care Commission.  After two days of learning about Medicaid, Social Security, Employment, Education, Health Care and Asset Development, advocates will meet with members of Congress and their staff. The day starts with a Wednesday morning coffee kick off to the hill day. Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and Brown (D-OH) have confirmed that they will attend the coffee, and Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Harkin (D-IA) have also been invited. AUCD hosted a webinar orientation (now archived) for students, trainees, and early career professionals to get ready for the DPS. Don't forget to schedule your hill visits and visit to learn more about the seminar.


For more policy news, follow Kim and Rachel on Twitter at @kmusheno and @racheljpat

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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