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What's Happening in Washington

Our message got through! Senate ACA Repeal Efforts Fail.

On Friday, July 28, the U.S. Senate's final effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed in an early morning vote.

Easterseals advocates sent nearly 50,000 messages to Congress to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Thank you for all your efforts to educate Congress about the essential role Medicaid plays in the lives of tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families. Our efforts were coordinated with dozens of other national organizations. Everyone did their part, in their own way. Our message got through! 

So what’s next? The Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced plans to hold bipartisan hearings beginning the week of September 4, 2017 on the actions Congress should take to stabilize and strengthen the individual health insurance market so that Americans will be able to buy insurance at affordable prices in 2018. The Republican Chairman also urged the President to temporarily continue the cost-sharing reduction payments that help make health care insurance affordable for low-income Americans. While this news is encouraging—and reflects that there is no current path forward for ACA repeal—proposals to cut Medicaid may resurface in the future. Easterseals will continue to fight on behalf of people with disabilities and their families who depend on Medicaid for their health, independence, and well-being.

Easterseals statement on Administration's Fiscal Year 2018 budget

The Administration’s FY 2018 budget severely threatens the health and independence of low income children and adults with disabilities and their families. Easterseals urges Congress to reject this budget. The budget disproportionately target reductions in key disability services programs that allow people with disabilities of all ages to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. These include:

  • Medicaid: The budget calls for per-capita caps or block granting of Medicaid that will reduce essential health and support services to children and adults with disabilities.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income: These programs, slated for billions in cuts, provide critical income supports for people with disabilities, many of whom have disabilities that restrict or eliminate their ability to work.

  • Senior Community Service Employment Program: This budget eliminates this program that is the ONLY federal program that assists low income seniors return to work. This cut is in addition to the nearly 50 percent cuts in other federal job training programs.

  • Other essential programs that are cut: The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, the Developmental Disabilities State Grants for Developmental Disabilities Councils, the Social Services Block Grant, Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, and the CDC Autism programs. 

In total, this budget jeopardizes the health, well-being, and independence of people with disabilities. The program cuts also threaten the ability of Easterseals affiliates that rely on public private partnerships to meet the needs of their communities.

Job training to help older Americans return to the workforce is in jeopardy 

Our country's only employment program focused exclusively on older workers was just cut by 8 percent. The President's 2018 budget proposes to end specialized, on-the-job training for older workers that is currently available through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).

SCSEP provides paid, internship-like work experiences to unemployed older Americans looking to return to work. The on-the-job training helps older workers develop new skills and find permanent jobs. The program helps about 60,000 older Americans each year. Older veterans and individuals with disabilities receive priority service through SCSEP and would be disproportionately impacted if the Administration's proposal is approved.

Over 800 Easterseals advocates urged their Senators to sign onto the recent effort by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) in support of job training for older workers. We are pleased to report that 23 Senators signed onto the funding letter for the U.S. Department of Labor's Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). This broad support for our nation's only older worker training program would not have been possible without the strong advocacy of Easterseals supporters.

Easterseals Office of Public Affairs staff will keep you informed as the FY 2018 budget process moves forward.

Read and share these stories from Medicaid enrollees 

One of every seven Medicaid enrollees is a person with a disability, and now Congress is considering health care proposals that restrict access to critical Medicaid services.

Read more than 100 stories we've collected from parents of children with disabilities and from adults and seniors with disabilities in the Easterseals family who depend on Medicaid for their health, independence and well-being. Join more than 2,000 people who have already voiced their concern by signing our petition. 


Current Legislative Alerts: Take Action!

Each day, decisions are being made in Washington, D.C., that will affect people with disabilities and Easterseals' ability to provide services to them, as well as to meet Easterseals' mission today and for years to come. The unmet needs of people with disabilities will continue to go unaddressed if Easterseals 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 Easterseals advocacy alerts.

Public Policy Priorities for the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

People with disabilities and Easterseals 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.

Funding History of Federal Disability Programs, July 2017 (PDF*)

This chart, developed by Easterseals 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.

Legislative Landmarks

Easterseals 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.

Easter Seals Alabama's Legislative Efforts

Easter Seals Alabama actively supports people with disabilities and their families by appealing to Local and State Officials, Congress and federal agencies to create and support programs that help people with disabilities gain greater independence.

Day on the Hill

Legislatures IN the Know (LINK) was initiated in May of 2007 with the first Day on the Hill. Day on the Hill is an effort to build awareness of Easter Seals in the state legislature as well as an opportunity to develop a strategic state government relations plan. Long term, LINK will provide heightened awareness and increased understanding of the issues surrounding disabilities.

Easter Seals Alabama visited legislators on the Hill February 28, 2008, in a continued effort to educate them about services we provide. Presentations of artwork completed by children with Autism Spectrum Disorder were made to Governor Bob Riley, Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. and Representative Cam Ward. Administrators and staffers went door-to-door dropping off literature and speaking with senators, representatives and staffers.

The 2009 Day on the Hill is set for February 26, 2009.

For additional photos from Day on the Hill, download the 2008 Day on the Hill PDF.

Alabama Autism Task Force

Representative Cam Ward and Emily, mother of an autistic childOn March 20, 2007, State Representative Cam Ward and Lt. Governor Jim Folsom, Jr. announced the formation of the Alabama Autism Task Force. House Joint Resolution 23 was passed by the legislature on March 8 and signed into law by Governor Riley shortly afterwards. The task force is made up of state officials, educators, doctors, and members of the academic community to recommend ways to improve the treatment of autism in Alabama.

Easter Seals Alabama is an active member of Alabama's Autism Interagency Council which governs the Alabama Autism Task Force.

For more information about the Alabama Autism Task Force, visit www.camward.com/AutismTaskForce.htm.

The 150 Visits Initiative

U.S. Representative Joe Bonner visiting Goodwill Easter Seals In 2006, Easter Seals affiliates were challenged to create and steward relationships with their members of Congress. The goal was to have 100 members of Congress visit affiliate service sites to see first hand the critical role that Easter Seals has in assisting adults and children with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities. The visits connect the decisions Representatives and Senators make to the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families.

Last year, the initiative mobilized Easter Seals Alabama's staff to reach out to federal legislators and create an emotional connection with them to Easter Seals' mission and services for individuals and families with autism and other disabilities and special needs. Each of the visits created an opportunity to emphasize the value and cost benefit to society of funding essential services that promote the health, productivity and independence of people with disabilities and special needs.

By October 2007, Easter Seals affiliates across the country had successfully reached and surpassed that goal. This year, a new resolution has been set to continue the program's successes by setting a goal of 150 additional visits.

You Can Help!

Join Easter Seals today in educating and informing public officials about issues that affect individuals with disabilities. View Easter Seals Action Alerts and contact your legislators now!

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