HOUSE RECOMMENDS LEVEL FUNDING FOR PTIs
In a somewhat unexpected move, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee this week recommended no increase in the level of funding for the Parent Training and information Centers (PTIs) for Fiscal Year 1998. Prior to Wednesday's meeting, discussion had been focused on an overall increase for IDEA of $200 billion or more which was expected to result in an overall increase for Part D (in which is included parent training) of 25 million dollars. The proposed increase would have added $18 to $20 million new dollars to parent training programs for Fiscal Year 1998. The current level of funding for parent training is $15,500,000.
It is critical that parents contact their federal delegations in the House and Senate to express their concern that the lack of an increase in funding will seriously jeopardize the quality of education for their children.
Specifically, the delegations should be encouraged to support the higher funding levels when the Senate Sub-Committee on Labor, HHS, Education meets next Tuesday. The increase in funding is required in order to provide the necessary level of support for training of parents - both focused on the continuing provisions of IDEA and the new Amendments of 1997.
Well trained parents are the key to the success of IDEA. With the amendments to IDEA, there are many changes that involve parents. Most notably are the changes in
Well trained parents represent the best quality control that IDEA and the schools have available to them. In addition, well trained parents provide a positive impact on the reduction of litigation cost - an investment in using IDEA resources for education of students.
Call your Congressman and your Senator. Both the House and the Senate will be meeting on Tuesday to consider the appropriations. Don't let this opportunity get away to register your opinion on the increase in funding for parent training.
You can reach your Congressperson or Senator by calling 202.224.3121. Call and follow up with an e-mail or fax.
INPUT ON IDEA AMENDMENTS
The Department of Education held a series of meetings this week (July 14-16) to seek input regarding the IDEA Amendments of 1997 and the accompanying regulations. NPND is monitoring the meetings, as well as providing specific input on discipline, IEPs, evaluations, personnel standards, early childhood and discretionary programs, and parent training.
The Department has requested written comments on regulations by July 28, 1997. NPND needs your comments on the regulations prior to July 24th, as well as your direct input to OSERS prior to July 28th. It is critical to note the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, Judy Huemann, said that they will take into account the number of times an issue is raised related to the regulations, and use that to determine its importance.
Heather Hebron is coordinating the development of NPND's response to the regulations. Please contact her for additional details but most of all to provide your input. She can be reached at 253.588.1741 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACTION NEEDED ON CHILD HEALTH BILL
The House-Senate Conference Committee has begun negotiations on the Child Health Coverage plan to resolve crucial differences between the proposals passed by the House and Senate. It is essential that the Senate plan, which contains $24 billion for children's health, is adopted by the Conference Committee. While both bills let states receive money as a block grant, the House bill does not assure that any money will go to child health coverage. To cover as many children as possible, the Senate bill must prevail and every penny must be spent to cover uninsured children. The Senate bill:
* Provides $24 billion for children's health insurance over five years. This is $8 billion more than the House bill.
* Provides standard Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage, plus vision and hearing services and parity for mental health provisions.
* The House bill does not guarantee that any money goes to children's health.
* Makes health coverage affordable for low-wage working families. The House bill does not offer the same protections from high costs.
* Gives access to affordable health coverage to more than 6 million children.
Support the Senate plan for Children's Health Insurance in the Budget Reconciliation Conference Committee. Make sure every penny is used to provide coverage for uninsured children with comprehensive benefits and affordable costs for working families.
Even more alarming than the House proposal are rumors emanating from the Conference Committee session early Thursday afternoon that indicate that Senator Lott has offered to the House a counter offer that allows states to choose from a menu of benefit package options that include:
* The Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (excluding Blue Cross/Blue Shield and with no add on's);
* The State Employee Health Benefit Program (geographic disparity);
* Utilizing a State HMO (limited access and options of persons with disabilities);
* Left to the discretion of the state Insurance Commissioner (typically, insurance commissioners deal with insurance company solvency issues not benefit issues); and,
* Medicaid without EPSDT (only the state plan services without any options).
In short, most of the provisions of the Senate plan which were supportive of persons with disabilities are would be eliminated.
It is critical that the conferees be contacted immediately and told to support the Senate bill! Generate as many calls as you can as soon as you can to the conferees. Let them know, that even in the heat of summer, we are paying attention to what they do! All of the conferees can be reached at 202-224-3121. If this precedent becomes law, all health programs are in jeopardy of losing services that make the difference between health options and limited health care menus for persons with disabilities.
The following members of the Conference Committee are critical to the decisions being made on children's health. House Conferees
Archer (R-TX) Armey (R-TX) Bilirakis (R-FL) Bliley (R-VA) DeLay (R-TX) Hastert (R-IL) Hobson (R-OH) Kasich (R-OH) Rangel (D-NY) Thomas (R-CA)
Senate Conferees Domenici (R-NM) Gramm (R-TX) Lott (R-MS) Moynihan (D-NY) Roth (R-DE)
Not for Profit Lobbying Amendment ; Action Needed Now
Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) intends to offer an amendment to the Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill to limit the advocacy voice of local charities. This new amendment would cause serious and significant harm to the nonprofit community. It is likely to be offered next Tuesday, July 22, at a full Appropriations Committee markup.
Federal grantees are already prohibited from using federal funds to lobby Congress or state legislatures. Lobbying at the focal level with federal funds is only permissible under certain circumstances -- when the activity is necessary, reasonable, and related to the purposes of the grant.
This amendment would change this to prohibit "any activity designed to influence legislation or appropriations pending before Congress, any State legislature, or a legislative body of any political subdivision of a state". No exceptions. Because less clarity exists about the distinctions between executive and legislative functions at the local level (e.g. are school board decisions legislative or executive decisions), the amendment would either prohibit or chill virtually all policy communicators with local governmental entities.
The amendment must be stopped. This provision is unnecessary, burdensome, and would impede communication between non-profits and local officials. If Istook is successful in attaching his amendment to the Labor, HHS Appropriations bill, nothing would stop him from attaching such language to all spending bills.
We need you to FAX and telephone Members of the Appropriations Committee ASAP. We also need you to get others to make calls and faxes. We don't have much time, but we believe we can stop this amendment with your help.