AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 24, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 24, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 12
Subscribe to AUCD InBrief  |  AUCD InBrief Archive  | RSS  |  AUCD InBrief Archive

Congressional Schedule

The House and Senate are both in session this week. The House and Senate both may take up legislation related to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) provider payments in Medicare (see Medicare section).

Budget and Appropriations

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) outlined its vision for America's spending priorities by releasing its "Better off Budget." This is the fourth year that the Progressive Caucus has released an alternative to the official House Budget, a budget primarily authored in the past four years by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The Progressive Caucus budget completely repeals the sequester and substantially increases revenue and investment in discretionary spending while putting the debt on a downward path. The budget calls for about $5.9 trillion of higher tax revenue and $3.6 trillion per year in higher spending over ten years, resulting in $2.7 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade including interest savings, reducing debt as a share of GDP from 75% today to 65% in 2024. For more information, see this summary from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The CPC is currently co-chaired by U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Appropriations Hearings

Congress is beginning to hold hearings regarding Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations. On March 25, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on Labor-HHS-Education FY15 appropriations. Witnesses include representatives from advocacy organizations, unions, universities, and charities including Autism Speaks, Trust for America's Health, Catholic Charities, and the Elder Justice Coalition. AUCD will also be on the Hill this week advocating for the association's network program funding. 

Affordable Care Act

Days Remaining in Open Enrollment: 7

On Saturday, March 23 the Affordable Care Act turned four years old! This is also the final week of open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplaces. To mark the event, AUCD has published a page of outreach and enrollment ideas and resources, as well as a happy birthday message to the ACA. Join us in celebrating by helping to make sure that all Americans know about their health insurance options. Share, tweet, and spread the word about then end of open enrollment!

Home and Community-Based Services

On March 20, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a Settings Requirements Compliance Toolkit designed to assist states in developing Home and Community-Based 1915(c) waiver and 1915(i) State Plan Amendment or renewal applications to comply with the new HCBS settings regulations released January 10 (see January 13 In Brief for more information). The toolkit includes:

For more information on the rule, see the page and AUCD's resource page that includes AUCD issue briefs and comments.


Prescription Medications / Part D

On Monday, March 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that they would not move forward with a controversial proposal regarding Medicare coverage of prescription medications through Part D of the program. In a letter to Congress, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said that CMS did not plan to finalize the rule "given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input." The rule would have changed protections for beneficiary access to the broad range of antipsychotic and immunosuppressant medications (given after organ transplants) - 2 of the 6 "protected classes" of medications. AUCD and many other disability organizations expressed concern about the rules, particularly because the rule implied that the medications were interchangeable and so fewer could be covered.

Provider Payment

The last short-term fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that sets physician and other provider payments in Medicare expires March 31. Congress last passed a short-term fix in January to buy a few months for the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means Committee to create a long-term solution. Lawmakers are generally in agreement over the policy issue - replacing the flawed SGR with a new payment formula that would seek to encourage quality over quantity in health care. However, they continue to disagree over how to pay for the proposed changes The House passed a bill (H.R. 4015) on March 14 that would replace the current formula but included an amendment that would delay the Affordable Care Act's "individual mandate" for five years. In the Senate, the bipartisan bill (S. 2110) replaces the SGR and includes important extender policies (like repeal of therapy caps and outreach & enrollment assistance) but does not yet have an offset. Last week, AUCD signed on to a letter from the Medicare Rights Center supporting the Senate bill and encouraging the Senate to make permanent the Qualified Individual (QI) program that helps low-income beneficiaries cover premiums.


On March 25 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will host a hearing on teacher training called "Teacher Preparation: Ensuring a Quality Teacher in Every Classroom." Witnesses include the leaders of university teacher education programs and private organizations.

Restraints and Seclusion in Schools

The Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education, released its report on discipline data gathered for the 2011-2012 school year on Friday. This report highlights the continued and deeply troubling disparate use of restraint and seclusion that students with disabilities and students of color face. The percentage of students with disabilities experiencing restraint increased from 70% to 75% over the past reporting period. This and other discrepancies highlight how poorly prepared teachers and administrators are to support students with disabilities, and alludes to the important role attitude plays in use of these practices.

 On a related issue, a new article, No Harm Done? Think Again, is now available at Penned by Jenifer Urff, National Center on Trauma Informed Care, it describes the high short- and long-term costs to children and to society when restraint and seclusion are used by school personnel.


Two important rules updating the regulations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act will take effect today, March 24. These rules are strongly supported by AUCD (see association's comments on the NPRM). These rules were designed to help employers realize and harness the skills, talents and ingenuity of all qualified workers including removing unnecessary barriers that keep workers from competing for or advancing in good jobs.  For the first time ever, the rule establishes real metrics against which federal contractors will measure the success of their affirmative action programs when it comes to employing qualified workers with disabilities and protected groups of veterans.

  • The Section 503 rule establishes a seven percent goal for the employment of people with disabilities in every job group of a contractor's workforce. Businesses with less than 100 employees may apply the seven percent goal across their entire workforce. Businesses with less than 50 employees are not subject to this goal.
  • The VEVRAA rule requires contractors to measure the hiring of protected veterans against either a national benchmark (currently 7.2%) or against a benchmark they set using specific criteria laid out in the rule.

These rules were published in the Federal Register on September 24.  New and updated fact sheets are available on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

White House Public Engagement Disability Call

The White House Office of Public Engagement will host disability community conference call featuring Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education on at 3pm ET Thursday, March 27, 2014. To access call-in information, RSVP for the event. For live captioning, use this link at the start time of the call.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will host a webinar on March 26 to provide information for state agencies interested in applying for the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (PRA) Program. HUD announced in its Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) that there is approximately $120 million available to state housing agencies that have formed partnerships with state Medicaid and health and human services agencies that have "developed methods for identifying, referring, and conducting outreach to a target population of extremely low-income persons with disabilities requiring long term services and supports."  Applications are due May 5, 2014. UCEDD programs involved with community housing initiative are encouraged to assist states with this funding opportunity.

Disability Policy Seminar

Staff of the Disability Policy Seminar are busy confirming speakers and preparing fact sheets for the upcoming event.  Fact sheets and the final program will be available on the Seminar website soon.  While early registration has ended, it is still possible to register for the event. Please be sure to make your appointments for the April 9 Hill visits before you arrive (see tips for making Hill appointments). To find out who else is coming from your state, see the list of registrants.

Disability Policy Leadership Fellow

Applications are due Monday, March 31 for the 2014-2015 Fellowship in Disability Policy Leadership. The purpose of the fellowship is to provide significant experiences in national level activities related to policy and legislative development, advocacy, program development, technical assistance, and AUCD administration. Current UCEDD, LEND, and IDDRC staff and trainees are eligible to apply. For more information, see the application announcement.


7 Reasons You Are Absolutely Required to Educate Policymakers

For more from AUCD, follow @AUCDNews and like AUCD on Facebook

For updates from our Executive Director Andy Imparato, follow @AndyAUCD.

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:

AUCD | 1100 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring | MD | 20910