July 11, 1997------------------------------- Number 50

Legislative Update

IDEA Funding at Critical Point

It is time for all parents interested in the full funding of IDEA to show your support for the inclusion of the additional 10 billion in new funding for IDEA. It is critical that you emphasize:

Your help is urgently needed to show your support for the full funding of IDEA by contacting Bob Livingston (LA), Chair, or any member of the Committee on Appropriations at S128 Capitol Building, Washington, DC 20510-6025. Specific subcommittee members of the Labor/HHS/Education Subcommittee to contact are:


Arlen Specter (PA), Thad Cochran (MS), Slade Gorton (WA), Kit Bond (MO), Judd Gregg (NH), Luach Faircloth (NC), Larry Craig (ID), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX),


Tom Harkin (IA), Earnest Hollings (SC), Daniel Inouye (HI), Dale Bumpers (AR), Harry Reid (NV), Herb Kohl (WI), Patty Murray (WA).

Child Health Insurance

$24 Billion for Children's Health in Senate Budget Bill

The Senate bill that passed in late June includes many of the key child health points we have been fighting for. A House-Senate Conference Committee will begin meeting on July 7 to resolve the crucial differences between the child health coverage proposals contained in the House and Senate bills.

Both the Senate and House bills let states use new funds as a block grant or for Medicaid expansion. States are likely to choose the block grants. However, unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would not assure any of the money will go to child health coverage. Our goal must be to cover as many of the 10 million uninsured children as possible, and ensure that every penny be spent to cover these children.

Urge your Senators and Representatives to support the Senate's $24 billion child health insurance plan in the Budget Reconciliation Conference Committee. Tell them to make sure every penny is used to provide coverage for uninsured children with comprehensive benefits and affordable costs for working families.

Contact NPND if you would like a copy of a more detailed analysis of the House and Senate bills: 703-684-6763.

Thanks to the CDF for this update

Medical Savings Accounts

Last week, both chambers of Congress passed versions of the spending reconciliation bill that contain Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs). The Senate version includes consumer protections that minimize the harmful effects of Medicare MSAs and reduces the size of the demonstration. In the Senate spending bill, Medicare MSAs have a minimum deductible of $1500 and a maximum deductible of $2250. Further, the Senate version includes protections that limit out-of-pocket expenses to $3000. These consumer protections are also consistent with those in the Kassebaum/Kennedy MSA demonstration project for the under 65 population. In comparison, the House version calls for a maximum deductible of $6000 and a cap on out-of-pocket expenses at $6000. Thus the House version exposes seniors and the disabled to much larger deductibles and limit on out-of-pocket expenses. The House version also calls for 500,000 participants, as compared to 100,000 in the Senate version.

Currently, staff are meeting to hammer out the differences between the two spending bills. The goal is to wrap-up the process before the August 6 recess. Therefore, action is needed now.

The message to members of Congress and the White House is:

Thanks to Consumers Union for this update

SSI State Payments

The House budget reconciliation bill, HR 2015, which passed the House recently, contains a provision to repeal the maintenance of effort requirements for states with optional SSI state supplementation payments (Section 9102 of the House bill). This provision would allow states to reduce or eliminate state SSI supplemental payments to SSI beneficiaries who are disabled or elderly. In addition to loss of income, some people would also lose Medicaid eligibility with the loss of SSI state supplements!! The Senate budget reconciliation bill (S 947) does not have a similar provision for repeal.

The next legislative step is for a joint House-Senate Conference Committee to put the House and Senate bills together, resolving the differences between them. The resulting "conference" bill would go to both the House and Senate floors for final passage before going to the President for signing into law. The conference work and final passage in the House and Senate are expected to be completed in July, after the 4th of July and before the beginning of the August recess.

Make Phone Calls and send Fax Letters immediately to both of yourSenators and your Congressional member!! Your message to both your US Senators and to your Member in the House of Representatives:

Loss of the state supplementation payment would be devastating for many children and adults with disabilities. The final conference bill SHOULD NOT HAVE THE REPEAL PROVISION IN IT.

Thanks to UCPA for this update

Charity Lobbying

Congresswoman Johnson (R-CT) is indicating that she plans to hold hearings on charities this summer with the intent of introducing legislation this fall. the hearing will address how charities report their "self-defense" lobbying. Current law permits charities to engage in lobbying on matters related to protecting the charities powers, duties, tax exempt status or the right to receive tax deductible contributions, without being required to disclose the amount spent on such legislative activities.

These hearings will present Representatives Istook (R-OK) and McIntosh (R-IN) with a perfect opportunity to resuscitate their legislative initiatives curtailing lobbying by charities that receive federal grant funds, which they pursued unsuccessfully in the last Congress. Charities could once again be forced to divert valuable time and resources from serving their constituents and clients to defend against unwarranted attempts to curb their right to speak out. Additionally, requiring charities to report self-defense lobbying might well lead to curtailing charity lobbying, and charities already disclose broadly to the public their lobbying. Thanks to Independent Sector for update

Pizza Hut Chain to Employ 2,500 Voc Rehab Clients

The Jobs Plus? project of the Pizza Hut corporation has been in place fourteen years as an employment initiative for persons with disabilities. They have recently announced a national goal to employ 2,500 vocational rehabilitation consumers by the end of the year. Integrated Resources Institute is assisting Pizza Hut with this initiative, and can assist individuals with job placement efforts. For more information, contact IRI at (800)704-5293.

Dept. of Education Solicits Input on IDEA Regs

On June 27, the Department of Education published a "Notice of Request for Advice and Recommendations on Regulatory Issues Under the IDEA Amendments of 1997," soliciting input on issues the regulations should address in order to resolve ambiguity. Input should be directed to Dr. Thomas Heir by July 28.

USA Today Article on David Hoppe

USA Today newspaper featured a full page story in the weekend edition of June 27-29 about David Hoppe, chief of staff to Sen. Trent Lott, and the role he played in the reauthorization of IDEA. Several pictures of David and his son Gregory-who has Down syndrome- accompany the story, including one on the front page. Congratulations to David and Karen Hoppe and their family.