AUCD Legislative News In Brief

September 16, 2013

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  September 16, 2013   |  Vol. XIII, Issue 37
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Congressional Schedule

Both houses of Congress are in session this week and continue to face a challenging legislative agenda before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The House is scheduled to be on recess the week of September 23, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has indicated that they may need to remain in session.

ACA: Countdown to Open Enrollment

Days until open enrollment starts: 15

With the start of open enrollment rapidly approaching, opponents of the Affordable Care Act are increasing their efforts to dismantle, delay, or defund the law. In Congress, opponents are trying to use deadlines for both the continuing resolution and debt ceiling to leverage a delay or destruction of the law. The Administration has stated that they will not negotiate on the debt ceiling and that the President will not sign anything delaying or defunding the ACA. The House passed a bill last week (HR 2775, their 41st vote on to delay, de-fund, or repeal part or all of the ACA) that would delay health insurance subsidies for people purchasing insurance on the Exchange until their incomes could be verified. The administration has said that this bill is based on a misunderstanding of the system planned to open October 1. Under the planned system individuals will estimate their 2014 income to determine edibility for health insurance subsidies. The estimate will be checked against Social Security and IRS records and if an individual's 2014 income varies dramatically from their 2013 income states can implement further verification steps. States have flexibility to determine the level of variability that will trigger further investigation. Many people who work for hourly wages or are self-employed lack health insurance and have incomes that vary from year to year.

In the states, efforts continue to thwart the efforts of Health Insurance Navigators to reach the uninsured and inform them of the health insurance options, including a new law in Florida that bars Navigators from working on the grounds of county health departments. These restrictions have caused some Navigators to turn down the funds and relinquish their roles. For example, Cardon Outreach has participated in Medicaid enrollment for 20 years but recently returned Navigator funding as a result of "emerging state and federal regulatory scrutiny." More state and federal efforts, and the Navigators that they impact, were detailed in last week's In Brief.

Today, AUCD participated in a call with White House officials, including President Obama, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and HHS Secretary Sebelius to answer questions and provide resources regarding how to assist people enrolling into health care plans beginning on October 1. Follow the conversation and get more on Twitter at #Getcovered and #ACA.

Long-Term Care Commission

As mandated by the American Taxpayer Relief Act, the Long-Term Care Commission voted on September 12 on their final report to Congress. The commission voted 9-6 to approve the report, with both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. Although the full report won't be released until the September 18, the commission has posted an introductory Call to Action, summary of recommendations, and press release on the vote. The recommendations address rebalancing the system toward community services, integrating services, improving consumer access, improving the quality of services, and addressing issues related to the direct care workforce and family caregivers. However, the commission did not provide a firm recommendation to address financing. The five of the six dissenting voters, Laphonza Butler of SEIU, Henry Claypool of AAPD, Judy Feder of Georgetown University, Lynnae Ruttledge of the National Council on Disability, and Judith Stein of the Center for Medicare Advocacy issued a statement summarizing their recommendations and calling for a national social insurance model to finance long-term services and supports. The Commission will hold a final hearing on September 18 to release the full final report and hear statements from the commissioners.


The House Education and Workforce Committee held a hearing on the Institute for Education Sciences called "Education Research: Exploring Opportunities to Strengthen the Institute of Education Sciences". It included testimony from education experts at the Government Accountability Office, Harvard Graduate School of Education, New York City Schools, and Education Commission of the States. The hearing is in preparation for an expected reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act. The witnesses generally agreed that there is a federal role for education research and that IES has increased the rigor of education research but needs to improve in dissemination of its findings.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs held a Twitter chat last week to provide information and answer questions about two final rules that impact job opportunities for people with disabilities: 1. Final Rule for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act; and 2. Final Rule to update Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act.  To access the Twitter feed, go to @USDOL and #AccessJobs.

This Thursday, AUCD will participate in a DOL forum on "Employment First" policies and activities, entitled "Rising to the Occasion: National Trends in Employment First Policy, Practice & Systems Change."  Federal and local officials will report on activities and share best practices.

Food Stamps

House leadership announced a vote this week on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. In July, the House passed a bill that included farm assistance programs but excluded SNAP, even though the two programs are usually reauthorized together under the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARM) bill, after they were unable to pass a comprehensive bill (see July 15 In Brief). The original comprehensive bill included $20 billion in cuts to SNAP, an amount that many Democrats opposed for being too large and many Republicans opposed for being too small (see June 24 In Brief). This week, the House will try to pass a bill with $40 billion cuts to SNAP and introduce stronger work requirements and drug testing. According to the Washington Post, 48 million people in the US rely on SNAP. The Senate-passed bill has $4 billion in cuts to the program.

Social Security

AUCD is pleased to report that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has posted a final rule replacing the term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in their list of impairments used to evaluate Social Security claims. The SSA originally announced this change in January to much applause from the disability community. This announcement finalizes the change. In October 2010, Congress passed Rosa's Law, which only changed the term for health, education, and employment laws.  This final rule now brings Social Security Act laws in line with Rosa's Law.

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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