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The population of older adults needing Older Americans Act services is growing faster than at any time in the country’s history as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. However, just when the need is highest, funding for these critical services is in jeopardy.
Now in its 50th year, the Older Americans Act (OAA) provides services to help millions of seniors every year with health, independence and dignity in their homes and communities. Congress must ensure that programs older Americans depend on to stay healthy and independent are there for the next 50 years.
UPDATE: On Thursday, July 16, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed reauthorization. Please ask your Representatives to update and fund the Older Americans Act.
On July 8, 2015, the House's version of Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, called the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), passed by an extremely close vote of 218-213 with only Republicans voting for the bill. Easter Seals opposed this bill as it left all decisions about school accountability for student performance up to the states, took away annual assessment of students, and removed the limit on the number of students with disabilities that can take the alterative assessment. Under current law only 1% of students can take this test.
The Senate version -- the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) -- passed on Thursday, July 16, 2015, by a bipartisan vote of 81-17. While ECAA kept annual testing and the cap on the number of students taking annual assessments, it does nothing to ensure the accountability of schools for student subgroup performance, which includes student with disabilities. Due to this lack of accountability, Easter Seals could not support this bill.
The House and Senate will now move to conference, where they will take both versions and compromise on a final bill. Easter Seals will continue to monitor the process and advocate for the needs of students with disabilities and accountability in the final legislation.
Easter Seals strongly supports the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the King vs Burwell case. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case means that individuals and families in all 50 states, whose incomes are below 400 percent of the federal poverty line, will continue to be eligible for financial aid to help cover the cost of health insurance premiums.
"The goal of the health care reform law is to assure that all people have access to quality, affordable health care. Access to the health care system is integral to the goal of enabling all Americans, including people with disabilities and chronic conditions to be healthy, functional, live as independently as possible and participate in their communities," said Randall L. Rutta, the president and CEO of Easter Seals. "We do not want to return to the days when people had to decide whether to pay for their health insurance or pay their rent," remarked Rutta.
Easter Seals supports new legislation (H.R. 1843) that would help ensure the men and women who were injured while serving our nation in the U.S. military have full access to the benefits they have earned and the local supports and services they may need to successfully reintegrate into their communities.
Your voice needs to be heard in the U.S. House of Representative to help grow support of H.R. 1843 to help connect veterans with disabilities to local supportive services. You can also use this opportunity to thank co-sponsors of the bill.
Congress is debating legislation that will help create new options of public transportation for people with disabilities. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public transportation like public buses to be accessible, there are still many types of transportation that are not. For example, many subway stations that were constructed before the ADA are still only accessible by stairs, leaving them unusable by people who use wheelchairs.
Each day, decisions are being made in Washington, D.C., that will affect people with disabilities and Easter Seals' ability to provide services to them, as well as to meet Easter Seals' mission today and for years to come. The unmet needs of people with disabilities will continue to go unaddressed if Easter Seals is not engaged in educating public policy makers about people with disabilities' disproportionate reliance on government for health, education, employment, transportation and other needed services. Sign up to receive Easter Seals advocacy alerts.
Easter Seals has been active in public policy advocacy since our founder, Edgar Allen, lobbied the Ohio Legislature to fund appropriate services for children with disabilities in the 1920s. We continue to actively support and promote federal legislation that helps people with disabilities achieve independence.
People with disabilities and Easter Seals have a significant stake in government programs. For many children and adults with disabilities, their ability to get an education, earn a living and live independently in the community is dictated by the availability of services and supports, many of which come only from the federal government.
This chart, developed by Easter Seals Office of Public Affairs, tracks the funding history of federal disability programs. The chart divides the information by agency, listing underneath each agency specific programs that matter to children and adults with disabilities.