Legislative News InBrief

March 2, 2007

Vol. VII, Issue 10

2007 Disability Policy Seminar
Record attendance of approximately 600 is expected at the Disability Policy Seminar which runs Sunday through Tuesday (March 4-6). The final program is now available. Seventeen fact sheets on various issues are also available online. If you are planning to attend, reading these fact sheets prior to arrival can help make the Seminar less overwhelming. The fact sheets are great resources for others who are not able to attend. You are also encouraged to share these fact sheets with members of Congress during Hill visits.

Please note that there has been a change in the room for the AUCD Legislative Affairs meeting. The meeting will now take place at Noon on Sunday, March 4, in the Capitol Room. AUCD also has organized a panel on Autism scheduled for 4:15 p.m. on Sunday. The panel of congressional staff and other experts will discuss the Combating Autism Act and the need for additional legislation to deal with services.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services held hearings this week on proposed FY 2008 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction. HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt testified before the committee on Tuesday, February 27. Several members asked questions regarding funding for SCHIP. Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) stated that a supplemental appropriations bill for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will include money for states anticipating SCHIP shortfalls. There appears to be growing bi-partisan support for SCHIP. The winter meeting of the National Governors Association produced bi-partisan lobbying efforts on the Administration and Congress for additional funding.

Direct Support Professionals
Representative Lois Capps (CA) introduced a bill to increase wages for direct support professionals who provide services to individuals with disabilities under Medicaid on March 1, 2006 with the co-sponsorship of Rep. Lee Terry (NE). The bill (H.R.1279) will amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide funds to states to enable them to increase the wages paid to targeted direct support professionals in providing services to individuals with disabilities under the Medicaid Program. The bill now moves to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Medicaid and School Services
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), along with 16 Senate cosponsors, and Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and 9 House cosponsors introduced the Protecting Children's Health in Schools Act of 2007 (S. 578/H.R. 1017). The Act clarifies that schools can use Medicaid funding for some transportation and certain administrative claims, and tightens reporting and documentation requirements to avoid abuse. The legislation was introduced in response to the Administration's FY 2007 and 2008 budgets which proposed to make major cuts through revised regulations for Medicaid services provided to eligible children in special education classes.

Disability Policy Briefing
On Tuesday, February 27, the law firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville PC (PPSV) hosted a Disability Policy Briefing. Senator Harkin (D-IA) shared an insider's view of his priorities as they relate to disability-related legislation. He outlined an ambitious agenda, calling upon the disability community to join him in building support for ADA Restoration, the Community Choice Act (previously MiCASSA), and the Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act. The briefing also included a panel discussion featuring Connie Garner, Disability Policy Director to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Alice Weiss, Health Counsel of the Senate Finance Committee; Melissa Bartlett, Minority Counsel, House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee; and Marty Ford, Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. The panel members discussed a wide range of issues touching on Medicare, Medicaid, the Budget, Social Security, Employment, IDEA, and the ADA.

Autism Awareness Month
A resolution designating April 2007 as "National Autism Awareness Month" and supporting efforts to increase funding for research into the causes and treatment of autism and to improve training and support for individuals with autism and those who care for individuals with autism (S.RES.78) was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee without amendment on March 1, 2007. The resolution now goes to the full Senate for ratification. The resolution was sponsored by Senator Chuck Hagel (NE) and cosponsored by Senators Thomas Carper (DE), Russ Feingold (WI), and Debbie Stabenow (MI).

EPSDT Issue Brief
A new Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief on EPSDT, co-authored by AUCD's Bob Williams, discusses the challenges and implications for young people with disabilities when they become adults and lose their Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefits.

FY2008 Budget Request for Aging
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report on funding levels for programs in the Older Americans Act from 2002 through the President's FY 2008 Budget Request. View the report (pdf).