Check out federal policy updates, plain language explainers, and action steps from AUCD!
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

 January 8, 2024| Vol. MMXXIII | Issue 83

Budget and Appropriations

Congress has returned from recess and has immediately started work to finalize how to fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2024. On January 7th, President Biden and Congressional Leaders released a bi-partisan topline agreement on funding levels for Fiscal Year 2024 that includes $772.7 billion for non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding and $886.3 billion in defense funding. This bi-partisan topline agreement achieves the same funding levels that were agreed to as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, including the additional $69 billion in NDD resources included in the side agreement. It also adheres to the general framework of the side agreement, with a combination of base emergency funding, no-outlay CHIMPs, IRS rescissions, and COVID-related rescissions. With these topline agreements in place, the House of Representatives and Senate can move forward with finalizing all twelve of the appropriations bills.

As a reminder, on November 16th, President Biden signed the continuing resolution (CR) (H.R. 6363). A CR continues last year’s funding at the prior levels while Congress works to complete the process for funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2024. The CR contains two different dates for when funding decisions need to be made by to not have a government shutdown. It expires for agencies covered by the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD bills on January 19th, and expires for the other eight bills, including the Labor-Health-Human Services-Education-Related Agencies (LHHS) bill (H.R. 5894) on February 2nd.  

Plain Language 

On November 16th, President Biden signed a continuing resolution, which continues current government funding until the beginning of 2024.  On January 7th, President Biden and leaders in Congress came to an agreement on a budget for Fiscal Year 2024.  The new budget plan will need be passed before February 2nd, or the government may shutdown. 

Action Steps

Call and educate your Members of Congress on the importance of funding for disability programs.  You can reach your Members by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Office of Management and Budget Releases Digital Accessibility Guidance for Critical Government Resources

On December 21st, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the White House released an updated memorandum that discusses how to ensure compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The guidance to federal agencies “provides requirements and recommendations to support agency integration of digital accessibility into their missions and operations, with the end goal of helping government technology and information resources better serve a diverse public and Federal workforce.” The guidance recognizes that “[a]ccessibility is a strategic investment” and that the “Federal Government cannot fulfill its obligations and effectively provide services to the public without responding to the needs” of people with disabilities who maybe employees in the federal government or members of the public trying to access information from the federal government.

Federal agencies will be required to:

  • Establish an agency-wide Section 508 program with appropriate resources (e.g., staff, technology, tools) and appoint a Section 508 program manager to serve as the agency’s principal point of contact;

  • Maintain a statement on digital accessibility on Federal agency’s websites written in plain language that documents how to file a complaint of violation;

  • Make accessibility subject matter experts’ part of the acquisition process to ensure any new information and communications technology an agency plans to buy will be fully accessible;

  • Offer section 508 and digital accessibility training to employees on a regular basis; and more.

Plain Language 

On December 21st, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the White House released a plan to make websites for federal agencies more accessible. Federal agencies, like the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, will have to test their websites for accessibility more often, include people with disabilities in the testing of websites, offer more education on accessibility to employees and more.

Action Steps

Read more about the guidance to improve access to accessibility for federal agencies websites.

Biden-Harris Administration Releases New Medicaid and CHIP Renewal Data

On December 18th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new data on state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) changes among children and youth since full eligibility renewals restarted earlier this year. The data shows that states that have implemented the flexibilities and strategies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are better able to protect coverage, especially in states that have expanded Medicaid. For example, the 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming – have disenrolled more children and youth than those that have expanded combined. “In non-expansion states, youth who turned 19 while the continuous enrollment condition was in place are at risk of falling in the coverage gap and becoming uninsured; these youth on average account for 27.6% of disenrollments among children in non-expansion states since March 2023, compared to 12.1% of disenrollments in states that have expanded.” Given this data, CMS has released new comprehensive guidance to states on strategies to protect Medicaid and CHIP enrollment for children and youth. 

Plain Language 

On December 18th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new data on children who get their healthcare from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The data show that in 10 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) where Medicaid has not been expanded, less children are getting healthcare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a plan to help get more children healthcare under either Medicaid or CHIP.

Action Steps

Read more about the Medicaid and CHIP data from HHS and the guidance from CMS.

Administration for Community Living Releases End-of-Year Policy Round-Up

On December 20th, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) released a policy round-up of federal news that impacts people with disabilities. The policy round-up includes information on new CMS rules around nursing homes, transit accessibility, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) settlement, and more. Read the policy round-up from ACL.

Check out the latest episode of "Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All"

"Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All" is a YouTube video series highlighting current issues and hot topics in disability policy. Past guests of Tuesdays with Liz include US Senators, AUCD’s President Elect, and key members of the disability community. 

Liz Weintraub is AUCD's Senior Advocacy Specialist and the host of "Tuesdays with Liz: Disability Policy for All".

Liz has extensive experience practicing leadership in self advocacy and has held many board and advisory positions at state and national organizations, including the Council on Quality & Leadership (CQL) and the Maryland Development Disabilities Council.  

Find the full playlist on YouTube or check out the latest episode featuring OSERS' Assistant Secretary, Glenna Wright-Gallo.

Tuesdays with Liz: How OSERS is Improving Education for People with Disabilities

Policy Related "How To" Materials

Find Resources

Subscribe to Disability Policy News

Disability Policy News Archives

State Profiles

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign