AUCD Legislative News In Brief

April 14, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
  April 14, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 15
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Congressional Schedule

Both the House and Senate are in recess this week and next for the Passover/Easter holiday.

6 by 15 Campaign

During a Monday-night reception at the Disability Policy Seminar, Senator Harkin officially announced the start of the 6 by 15 campaign - an national effort to work on six national goals by the end of 2015, the year that marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 40th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The campaign builds on Senator Harkin's goal to have 6 million working-age adults with disabilities participating in the workforce by 2015 and adds goals on community living, education, transition, healthy living, and early childhood. More information is available at and on Twitter at #6by15. AUCD is an original partner on the goals, with the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, US Business Leadership Network, Special Olympics, and National Council on Independent Living.  

Budget and Appropriations

Budget Resolution

The House of Representatives approved the budget resolution drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) by a 219-205 vote. AUCD and other disability advocacy groups strongly oppose the budget that would block-grant Medicaid and cut other critical programs and services. For more information, see last week's In Brief. The budget is largely symbolic; Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) has announced that she will not write a budget this year (meaning that there will be no Senate Budget to reconcile with the House Budget and no joint budget resolution) and House and Senate appropriators have already begun work on FY15 spending using the levels set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 negotiated by Murray and Ryan last year.

Appropriations Hearings

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held hearings to discuss the Labor-HHS-Education. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan testified about the FY 2015 budget for the Department of Education before the House subcommittee on April 8. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez testified about the FY 2015 budget request for the Department of Labor on April 9. Videos of both the House and Senate hearings are archived on the committee websites.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on April 10 to discuss the FY 2015 budget proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified about the department's proposed budget and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A video of the hearing is archived on the committee website.

Combating Autism Act

Lead staff of Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Smith (R-NJ) addressed participants of the Disability Policy Seminar on Tuesday reported that they are working on a bipartisan bills to reauthorize the Combatting Autism Act (CAA) and are hoping to introduce the bills soon. Each of these lead sponsors are also interested in adding provisions to address transition needs of youth with developmental disabilities. However, it is still unclear if the sponsors can garner enough support to pass a bill with changes. The reauthorization of CAA was one of the top issues highlighted at the Seminar.

Health and Human Services

Last week, President Obama accepted the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and immediately announced that he would nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell - current director of the Office on Management and Budget (OMB) - to replace her. Ms. Burwell served in a variety of positions during the Clinton administration. She was confirmed by a 96-to-0 Senate vote to head OMB and led the agency through the sequester cuts and 15-day partial government shutdown, the management of which OMB was largely responsible. According to the White House, Secretary Sebelius had decided to resign once the first Affordable Care Act open enrollment period ended on March 31. The President made the official announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House on Friday; video of the announcement is available on the White House Blog. Senate confirmation hearings for Ms. Burwell are likely to focus on the Affordable Care Act, but it appears she will be confirmed once the Senate returns in two weeks.

Affordable Care Act

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - the nonpartisan arm of Congress that provides budgetary and economic analysis of current policies and proposed legislation - released a new report updating their estimates of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on health insurance coverage. The CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) project that about 12 million more people will have health insurance in 2014 than would have had it without the ACA, increasing the proportion of the nonelderly population with insurance from roughly 80% without the ACA to 84% with the ACA in 2014. CBO and JCT continue to estimate that through calendar-year 2014 about 6 million people will be covered by insurance through the exchanges. They also emphasize that this estimate cannot be compared directly with the number of people who have been enrolled through the exchanges at any given date (which HHS recently announced to be about 7.5 million).

Military Health Care

Last week, Autism Speaks hosted congressional briefings in the House and Senate regarding health care for children of military families that have autism and other developmental disabilities. The Senate briefing was sponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) who champion AUCD-supported legislation to expand access to behavioral health services for children with developmental disabilities through the military TRICARE health plan.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development is hosting a two-day conference on today and tomorrow called Military Connected Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Families.  The purpose of the conference is to educate participants knowledge and awareness of military connected children with special health care needs and to identify areas where more research and expanded services are needed.


The Department of Justice and State of Rhode Island have reached an agreement regarding segregated sheltered workshop and adult day programs. The agreement resolves the findings of the Civil Rights Division investigation that the state's day activity service system over-relies on segregated settings, including sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs. According to the settlement, Rhode Island will provide supported employment placements to approximately 2,000 people, including 700 people currently in sheltered workshops, 950 people currently attending facility-based non-work programs, and 350 students leaving high school. The Rhode Island University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College was involved in the case and settlement.

Civil Rights and Aversive Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that the Neurological Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee will meet on April 24 to discuss "the safety and effectiveness of aversive conditioning devices that are intended to deliver a noxious electrical stimulus to a patient to modify undesirable behavioral characteristics". The agency is considering whether to ban these aversive conditioning devices and seeking scientific data and information. AUCD signed on to a letter with the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Intervention, and Seclusion (APRAIS) supporting a ban on the use of electric shock for behavior modification. Written comments to the panel are due today, April 14. Kim Musheno, Director of Public Policy, will participate in the meeting.

National Council on Disability

President Obama has appointed Royal Walker - Executive Director of the Mississippi University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), the Institute for Disability Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi - to the National Council on Disability. He is a past AUCD president and  has served on the board of directors of the American Task Force for the Homeless, the Governor's Interagency Coordinating Council for Children with Special Needs, the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities, and the Mississippi March of Dimes. AUCD congratulates Dr. Walker on the appointment.

Early Childhood Education

On Thursday, April 10, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on early childhood education and a bill introduced by Senator Harkin in November of last year (S. 1697) the Strong Start for America's Children Act. The bill would provide grants to states to provide full-day prekindergarten programs for children from low-income families. Grants would be allocated to states based on the proportion of children age four who are from families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Witnesses included the Dr. W. Steven Barnett, Director of the Institute for Early Education Research, and Dr. Grover "Russ" Whitehurst, Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. The bill mirrors the proposal made by President Obama in the 2013 State of the Union address to make early childhood education universally accessible to all children. Chairman Harkin announced that he expects to markup the bill next month. AUCD supports this legislation.

Civil Rights Event at BLJ Library

Last week, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas held a Civil Rights Summit to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The summit featured President Obama and former Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Bush. Disability leader Lex Frieden spoke at the event on a panel on Social Justice in the 21st Century. Videos from the event and more details are available at and on YouTube.

Disability Policy Seminar

Over 700 people attended the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC last week to learn about current issues in disability policy and advocate on the hill, including over 150 . Fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations are available on Participants are strongly encouraged to complete the evaluation form to help us improve the seminar in coming years and Legislative Contact Report to help policy staff follow up on the connections and answer any questions. For those who were not able to participate in DC, please use the resources available at to visit your members of Congress at home in their district offices.

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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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