Disability Policy News In Brief

April 2, 2018

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April 2, 2018   |   Vol. XV, Issue 155
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Congressional Recess

Members of Congress will be in their states and districts until April 8.

Action Item: This is a great opportunity to meet with your Members in your state! If you have any questions on how to schedule appointments and what you should talk about, please contact Christine Grosso. You can also connect with your Members at a Town Hall meeting or similar public event; a searchable list of scheduled events can be found at the Town Hall Project.

 

Budget & Appropriations

Fiscal Year 2019

Last week the FY18 $1.3 trillion spending bill was signed into law. Now subcommittees need to write, mark up, and vote on all 12 appropriation bills for FY19 in the coming months. Unclear though is whether these bills will move to the floor individually or as one large package similarly to the FY18 omnibus. In any case, this work needs to be completed before FY19 begins on October 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Action Item: Continue to education and advocate around LEND and UCEDD funding for FY19. Please use the AUCD Action Center to send an email (which you can personalize) to your Members of congress advocating and/or educating about the importance of LEND, and advocating and/or educating about the importance of UCEDD.

Infrastructure

The President has outlined a proposal to increase federal infrastructure funding by $200 billion over ten years, which the Administration claims will leverage another $1.3 trillion in additional investment from state and local governments and the private sector. The initiative would consist largely of grants and tax incentives to support projects that are likely to "eventually generate revenue", such as toll roads or certain transit system improvements.

The Administration has not identified a specific funding source for the plan, but the President's budget includes a number of spending cuts that could potentially offset the cost of the proposal.

Democrats in the Senate have also released their own plan calling for over $1 trillion in federal infrastructure funding over the next decade. Unlike the President's plan, the Democrats' proposal would largely increase infrastructure spending by expanding existing federal programs and tax incentives, and create several new programs. Including, $62 billion in additional federal support for affordable housing and lead remediation initiatives through a combination of direct funding and enhanced tax incentives, such as expanding the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; $50 billion to assist states, school districts, and community colleges in school construction and modernization projects; $25 billion to help communities better prepare for disasters through new grants and loan programs. This plan also identifies specific offsets that would "fully pay for its costs", largely by scaling back several provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Specifically, it proposes raising the top income tax rate to 39.6, returning the Alternative Minimum Tax ($429 billion) and estate tax ($83 billion) to their 2017 parameters, raising the corporate income tax to 25 percent, and closing the carried interest loophole ($12 billion).

Census

Last week, at least 12 states signaled that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution. The NY State attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in CT, DE, IL, MA, NJ, NM, OR, PA, RI, and WA said they would join the effort; CA filed a separate lawsuit.

In addition, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) plans to  file a lawsuit against the Census Bureau, to force a more accurate count of minority populations. Calling the government's preparation for the 2020 count "conspicuously deficient," the lawsuit alleges that the census violates a constitutional mandate to count all the people in the country and disproportionately harms African American and Hispanic populations.

Action Item: Congress can exercise its legislative authority in several ways, including holding hearings, introducing legislation, and expressing concerns or requesting revisions from the Commerce Department or Census Bureau. Contact your Congressional delegation to share your thoughts.

Health Care

Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration has sought to change the definition of "knowingly and intentionally" violating the 340B ceiling price, a formal request to delay the regulation appears again on the website of the White House's regulatory review office. The 340B program, the subject of much political debate, forces drug companies to offer steep discounts on outpatient drugs to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income communities. The drug industry has criticized the use of those discounts, prompting inquires by Congress. CMS cut what it pays for certain 340B drugs starting this year, putting payment more in line with acquisition costs.

Education

The Administration's School Safety Commission, tasked with devising solutions to stop school violence, met for the first time on March 27 in a closed-door session that the Department of Education described as "an organizational meeting." The four panel members included: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.  

Action Item: Share your input, expertise, and concerns related to school safety, particularly consideration for students who have disabilities to the commission's email safety@ed.gov.

Money Follows the Person

Action Item: Continue educating your Members of Congress on the importance of Money Follows the Person (MFP) - particularly those members on the House Energy & Commerce Committee - in order to ensure that MFP is reauthorized and people with disabilities have access to their community. Please use this toolkit and chart, which shows when states will run out of funding, to help with your advocacy.

Bill numbers: EMPOWER Care Act - S. 2227 and HR 5306.

ADA Education and Reform Act - H.R. 620  

On March 29, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and 42 of her colleagues wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pledging to block a House Republican-led effort to curtail the civil rights of Americans living with disabilities. Together, the group of 43 Senators is large enough to block passage of HR 620, which Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) described as, "a bill that turns the clock backwards and strikes a devastating blow in the fight for civil rights." Senator Duckworth stated that "HR 620 would isolate Americans living with disabilities as the only federally-protected class of citizens forced to rely on "education," rather than strong enforcement, to exercise their basic civil rights". A full copy of the letter is available online here

Action Items: 1) Thank the signers of this letter. 2) Continue to contact your Senators that have not signed on and share the critical importance of the ADA, which ensures inclusive and accessible communities. Please see last week's In Brief for more information and resources.

2018 Disability Policy Seminar

Join the Trainee Orientation webinar today at 3:30pm EST, which will highlight what you can expect, how you should prepare, an opportunity to ask questions, and more!

Also, please remember to register:

 

 

Leadership

On March 28th, the President announced he was removing David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The announcement included his intention to nominate highly respected Admiral Ronny Jackson, MD and shared that in the interim, Honorable Robert Wilkie will serve as Acting Secretary.

Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All

The Tuesdays with Liz series is taking a break while Liz Weintraub is on detail working with the Senate Aging Committee. Tuesdays with Liz will return to a regular taping schedule and new episodes will air in the late Spring when Liz returns to AUCD. Until then, we will be highlighting some of our favorite Tuesdays with Liz episodes from this past year here and on social media at @AUCDnews.

This week we are revisiting Liz's interview with Wandy Felty (family faculty at Oklahoma's LEND) regarding LEND programs, which provide instrumental interdisciplinary training to professionals and advocates from a diverse range of backgrounds that enables them to best serve the health needs of people with disabilities. 

 

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

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

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