AUCD Legislative News In Brief
July 28, 2008
Vol. VIII, Issue 28
Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) postponed the markup of a second “stimulus” supplemental appropriations bill with the intent to move forward after the August recess. The bill contains an additional $500 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which would be distributed across the Institutes, including the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) which provides core funding for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRC). AUCD sent an action alert to IDDRC Directors and prepared a letter to Senate Appropriations Members requesting support for the additional funding. The bill also includes a temporary 3% increase in the Federal Medicaid match for states, among other provisions to try to stimulate the economy and help states balance their budgets without making harmful cuts to health and welfare programs. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated his support for the Chairman’s decision to postpone the markup and remains committed to passing a stimulus bill.
Child Abuse Prevention
Cordelia Robinson and Steven Rosenberg (Colorado UCEDD) joined AUCD staff in meetings with staff of Sen. Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Children and Families Subcommittee and staff of Rep. Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee to share results of their research related to the nexus between child abuse and neglect and disabilities. At a recent Subcommittee hearing on the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Sen. Dodd specifically states his concerns about the relationship between disabilities and abuse. AUCD submitted testimony and recommendations to staff mainly focused on the capacity of Part C programs to serve the high number of children referred for early intervention services as a result of abuse and neglect.
Senators Baucus and Rockefeller have introduced a resolution to strike down a Bush Administration policy on children’s health insurance set to take effect next month. The August 17, 2007 Directive issued by CMS requires states seeking to cover children in families earning more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level to first prove they enrolled 95 percent of children in families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level into the program. They are considering the best way to move the resolution in the Senate. More difficulty may occur in the House, where Democrats failed to get enough votes to override the president’s veto of SCHIP reauthorization last year.
National Family Caregiver Support Program
AUCD staff is working with Sen. Enzi (R-WY), Chairman of the HELP Committee and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD), a long time champion on caregiver issues, on a technical correction to the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) to ensure the program covers older caregivers of adults with disabilities. AUCD met with staff in both offices last week to help formulate a legislative solution. AUCD staff also met with staff of Rep. Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, to gain House support for a technical correction.
Over the weekend, the Congress passed the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure and Prevention Act of 2008 (H.R. 3221), a huge bill primarily designed to provide foreclosure relief for homeowners and credit to and regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill ends charity-financed down payment assistance, which has been blamed for artificially inflating housing prices by providing down payments in exchange for equivalent donations by sellers who typically recoup the “gift” by inflating the purchase price by the same amount. The bill also establishes a National Housing Trust Fund for the purpose of building and preserving affordable rental housing for individuals with extremely low incomes. The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy have been taking the lead to advocate for the enactment of a national housing trust fund for several years. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.
ADA Amendments Act
Disability, civil rights and business groups continue to advocate for passage of the ADA Amendments Act (HR 3195). The House passed HR 3195 overwhelmingly in June. Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Hatch (R-UT) are reportedly working on a draft bill for introduction in the Senate as soon as this week. On July 15, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a congressional roundtable to help work out issues brought forth by the general education community. AUCD signed onto a CCD-led coalition letter last week urging Senators to support HR 3195. Visit the AUCD Action Center if you would like to communicate with your Members of Congress on this issue.
AUCD signed on to CCD Education Task Force comments to the U.S. Department of Education in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking for Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities. The proposed regulation focused on: (1) Parental revocation of consent for special education services; (2) a state or local educational agency’s obligation to make positive efforts to employ qualified individuals with disabilities; (3) representation of parents by non-attorneys in due process hearings; (4) State monitoring, technical assistance, and enforcement of the Part B program; and (5) the allocation of funds, under section 611 and 619 of the Act, to public charter schools that are not serving any children with disabilities. CCD’s comments are posted on the AUCD Public Policy page.
AUCD and Easter Seals gave a presentation on the issue of autism during the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Legislative Summit in New Orleans last week. AUCD Autism Special Interest Group Chair, Cathy Pratt (Indiana UCEDD), Maria Blanco (Louisiana UCEDD), Katy Neas and Denise Rozell (Easter Seals) and Kim Musheno (AUCD) made up the panel that included information on both federal and state activities related to autism and related developmental disabilities. Easter Seals presented a newly published state by state summaries of policy related autism activities. AUCD staff presented information on the CDC-AUCD Regional Act Early Summits and other network activities related to autism. AUCD and the Louisiana UCEDD also hosted a joint exhibit at the Summit. NCSL reported an attendance of over 6,000 legislators, staff and other professionals at the event.
Ohio Presidential Forum
The July 26 National Presidential Forum on Disability Issues was a huge success, with approximately 700 individuals participating in the historic event, according to AUCD staff who participated. Sen. John McCain participated live via satellite link from Arizona. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) represented Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). Participants also briefly heard from Obama senior advisor, Mike Strautmanis, who shared a story about his son with autism. Moderator July Woodruff inquired about their positions on various disability issues, including the ADA, the institutional bias in Medicaid and community choice, Social Security work incentives, and what they might do for the returning veterans with disabilities. During the event, Sen. McCain stated is support for the House-passed ADA Amendments Act. He also offered his position in opposition to the Community Choice Act, stating high cost of implementing the proposal as his rationale. Sen. Obama co-sponsors the Choice Act and also stated support for the ADA Amendments Act. Prior to the candidates, a panel of disability advocates discussed various issues important to the community in this election year. Attendees were also graced by the talented and comedic Hollywood actor Robert David Hall. Pictures are posted on AAPD’s website. Directions to view the archived webcast of the entire event are on the Disaboom website: http://www.disaboom.com/AAPDSignUp.aspx
For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website: http://www.aucd.org/template/page.cfm?id=27