Highlights from the Hill October 24, 2014

Senator Harkin Holds Last Hearing as Chairman of HELP Committee

On September 18th, Senator Tom Harkin held his last full hearing as Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee before his retirement.  The hearing focused on overcoming the barriers that many people with disabilities face when trying to achieve economic self-sufficiency.  Many assistance programs limit the total assets that a person with disabilities may have, and once they exceed that they are considered ineligible.  Senator Harkin and the HELP Committee would like to change these limits so people with disabilities can work and save for emergencies without the fear of losing important services.  We applaud Senator Harkin for his work on this issue as well as his decades of service to the disability community.

Disability Treaty Fails to Get Vote

On September 17th Senator Harkin asked the full Senate to agree to vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  His proposal would have brought the CRPD to the floor this session and given the disability community a chance at US ratification of this important treaty.  Unfortunately, Senator Harkin’s proposal to bring the CRPD to the Senate floor, which required unanimous consent, was opposed by Senator Lee from Utah.  Senator Harkin has vowed that while he is retiring from the Senate, he will not be retiring from the disability treaty fight.  We look forward to continuing to work with him to ratify the CRPD.

Legislation Would Make DEA Scheduling Process More Efficient

The Regulatory Transparency, Patient Access, and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (S. 2862), recently introduced by Senators Whitehouse and Hatch, would bring transparency to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) scheduling process and get new treatments to patients in a timely manner. We strongly support S. 2862, as well as similar legislation in the House (H.R. 4299), which would speed up the DEA scheduling process, which can take more than a year after the treatment has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The Foundation recently led an effort to bring together the epilepsy community on a group letter to Congressional leadership urging them to support S. 2862 and H.R. 4299.  You can read the letter at  You can also speak up on the need for new therapies to reach patients quickly after FDA approval by asking your Members of Congress to expedite and bring transparency to the DEA scheduling process by supporting S. 2862 and H.R. 4299 at

Children’s Health Insurance Program Funding At Risk

The Foundation joined 1,200 leading national, state, tribal, and local organizations on an October 23rd letter urging Congressional leaders to provide continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure that states can continue to provide health coverage for millions of children. For nearly two decades, CHIP has been an essential source of coverage for families, ensuring access to high-quality, affordable, pediatric-appropriate health care for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance. You can view the letter at


You can read about what has recently happened in the states by going to the In The States page.