AUCD Legislative News In Brief

March 31, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  March 31, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 13
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Congressional Schedule

The House is out today (returning tomorrow), but senators return to town today expecting to debate and pass another patch to Medicare's payment system. After a judicial nomination vote, they will turn to discussions on extending emergency unemployment benefits.

Budget and Appropriations

The budget and appropriations process is in full swing with House and Senate appropriations Subcommittees holding hearings all week on proposed funding for agencies and programs under its jurisdiction.  NIH Director Francis Collins testifies before the Senate Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee on April 2.  On the House side, DOL Secretary Tom Perez is scheduled to testify on the same day. 

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) also announced that he will be releasing a new overall budget plan for FY 2015.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that the Ryan budget may contain even deeper cuts than last year's proposal. The plan is unlikely to have much of an effect on current appropriations, however, because the House and Senate already agreed to a top line spending figures for FY 2015.  Most Hill news reports believe the document will be used as a political guidepost for the upcoming elections.  Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) has already stated that the Senate will not mark up its own budget resolution since the budget deal already sets a discretionary top line.

AUCD staff joined with Friends of HRSA over the past week (and will continue this week) to advocate for funding for programs within the Health Resources Services Administration, including funding for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) program.  During the meetings, AUCD staff has also been educating staff about the relationship of LEND programs and the Combating Autism Act and the need to reauthorize the law before it sunsets on September 30.

Affordable Care Act

Days Remaining in Open Enrollment: 0

Open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplaces ends today. Last week, the administration announced some circumstances in which people will have more time to enroll, including certain exceptional circumstances, errors, or misinformation of a Navigator or other assister. For example, if someone had trouble accessing the Federally-facilitated Marketplace at and is still waiting "in line" to sign up for health care, the consumer will still be able to be enrolled. If you think you qualify but haven't been notified, you can ask for a special enrollment period by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and letting them know your circumstances.


Provider Payment

On Thursday, March 27, the House unanimously passed (by voice vote) a one year fix for Medicare physician payment cuts scheduled under the current Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. This is a temporary measure after the House Energy & Commerce, House Ways & Means, and Senate Finance Committees could not come to an agreement on a permanent replacement for the SGR (see last week's In Brief). The Senate is expected to pass a yearlong patch (HR 4302) to prevent cuts to Medicare payment rates. The current patch expires tonight at midnight and would result in a 23% cut to providers, so time is of the essence. The bill also contains an extension of the Family to Family Health information funding. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill this afternoon.  The President is expected to sign the bill before the midnight deadline. 

Unemployment Insurance

Today, senators began debating a five-month extension to unemployment insurance, after a successful procedural vote late last week, which kick in after a person exhausts standard unemployment assistance. Though the measure appears to have enough support to pass the Senate, it is unclear if there is enough support in the House.

New CDC Prevalence Figures

One in 68 children in the United States are identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) according to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This estimate is 30 percent higher than the prevalence reported in 2012. CDC says that since the previous estimate (1 in 88 children identified with ASD), the criteria used to diagnose, treat, and provide services have not changed. The surveillance summary report, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010," estimates that there are 1.2 million children under the age of 21 with autism. This new estimate is based on the CDC's evaluation of health and educational records of all 8-year-old children in communities from 11 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.  For more information, see CDC Autism Data.  See also AUCD's statement tying the new prevalence figures to the need to reauthorize the Combating Autism Act before it expires on September 30.

CRPD-Disability Treaty
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) called a meeting of disability and veterans advocates last week to strategize about a final push for ratification of the CRPD.  The goal is have a vote in the Senate in July around the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Senator Harkin also created a video message asking supporters to volunteer people stories demonstrating the need to ratify the treaty.  AUCD is meeting with coalition partners tomorrow to develop next steps.

Disability Policy Seminar: April 6-9 at the Grand Hyatt

Fact sheets and the final program are now available on the Seminar website (select Resources).  We have an exciting program planned and some special VIP guests joining us!

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.  AUCD LEND trainees are encouraged to participate in a special Trainee Symposium and reception on Sunday before the official event kicks-off. Please register for the FREE symposium before arriving.


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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.

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