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Advocacy

ABLE Accounts now available in Illinois

Illinois has joined with thirteen other states to launch ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Accounts.  Individuals with disabilities and their families may set aside up to $14,000 annually in new accounts similar to a 529 college savings account.  These accounts can now grow to a maximum of $100,000 before jeopardizing federal benefits like Social Security or SSDI.  Funds can be used to pay for any "qualified disability expense."

Visit www.IllinoisABLE.com to sign up for an ABLE Account or for more information.

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What's Happening in Washington

Easterseals urges the Senate to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act

Statement by Katy Beh Neas, Easterseals Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, reacting to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of the Better Care Reconciliation Act: "The analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reaffirms Easterseals' strong opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which includes deep cuts to Medicaid services for people with disabilities. CBO concluded that the BCRA's restrictive funding cap on Medicaid would force states to make up the reimbursement shortfall by eliminating optional services, restricting eligibility, or cutting provider rates—unless new resources are added to Medicaid. In addition, home and community-based attendant and other services for individuals with disabilities will be cut by $19 billion over the next decade through BCRA's provision to eliminate the Community First Choice Program. Combined, these provisions will make it harder for a child or adult with disabilities to access the supports they need to maintain their health and independence. Easterseals urges the Senate to reject the Better Care Reconciliation Act for its deep and troubling Medicaid cuts that negatively impact people with disabilities."

Better Care Reconciliation Act "jeopardizes the health and well-being of millions of children and adults with disabilities"

Statement by Katy Beh Neas, Easterseals Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, reacting to the Senate Republican release of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017: "The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act released today by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jeopardizes the health and well-being of millions of children and adults with disabilities. The Medicaid system that provides essential home and community-based care is already underfunded, has resulted in cuts to services and has increased the long wait lists individuals and families we serve across the country endure. The Senate bill will accelerate this problem by instituting restrictive caps on federal Medicaid funding—using formulas that result in cuts that are worse than those set in the U.S. House-passed bill formula.  

Capping and cutting Medicaid will hurt—not improve—the ability of a child with cerebral palsy to access physical therapy, for a student with autism to receive behavioral health services, for a young adult with a spinal cord injury to receive personal assistance services to get to his job, and for a vulnerable senior to access home health services.

Easterseals urges the U.S. Senate to oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act based on its cuts and caps to Medicaid services for children and adults with disabilities."

Tell your Senators: Don't cut or cap Medicaid.

The U.S. Senate will act vote after the July 4 recess on changes to health care that could dramatically limit access to Medicaid services for individuals with disabilities. Easterseals opposed the U.S. House's American Health Care Act for its cuts and caps on Medicaid home and community-based services. The Medicaid provisions of the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) are worse than the House bill:

  • Directly removes $12 billion from Medicaid home and community-based services for individuals with disabilities by eliminating Medicaid’s Community First Choice Program (Sec. 125);

  • Ends the federal government’s guarantee to cover a state’s actual cost to provide Medicaid care and supports for a person with a disability (Sec. 133); and
     
  • Calculates annual Medicaid adjustments to states with a formula that does not reflect the actual costs of medical commodities and services (Sec. 133).

Individuals with disabilities can’t afford to lose access to these vital Medicaid-funded services and long-term supports. We need your help to stop these health care cuts in the U.S. Senate so they do not reach the President's desk. Tell your Senators to oppose the BCRA for its harmful cuts to Medicaid services for people with disabilities.

Currently, 2,200 Easterseals advocates have sent over 5,800 messages to their Senators! Join them in telling the U.S. Senate to oppose the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

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, May 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.

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