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What's Happening in Washington

URGENT: Medicaid under Attack (AGAIN!)

Easterseals strongly opposes the Graham-Cassidy legislation for its Medicaid provision that will limit access to essential home and community-based services and supports for children and adults with disabilities. The Graham-Cassidy legislation (Sec. 124) removes the federal funding guarantee that currently exists in Medicaid and replaces it with a restrictive cap based on a funding formula rather than the actual needs of individuals with disabilities.

The Congressional Budget Office examined the Medicaid per capita cap proposal and concluded that capping federal Medicaid funding will force states to eliminate optional home and community-based services, restrict eligibility, or cut provider rates—unless new state resources are added to make up the funding shortfall left by a Medicaid cap. The troubling Graham-Cassidy Medicaid cap proposal will make it much harder for a child or adult with disabilities to access the Medicaid services they need to maintain their health and independence.

Easterseals urges the Senate to reject the Graham-Cassidy legislation for its harmful provision to cap, cut and restrict access to needed Medicaid home and community services. Instead, Easterseals urges the Senate to continue the bipartisan health care reform work being led by Senators Alexander and Murray to help stabilize health care markets and to improve access to and affordable coverage of quality health care.

Tell Congress: Don't Mess with the Americans with Disabilities Act!

The U.S. House may soon consider a bill (H.R. 620) that would significantly weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its protections for individuals with disabilities. H.R. 620 would make it harder for a person with a disability to access their rights under this 27 year old civil rights law.

The bipartisan Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibited the discrimination of individuals with disabilities all most aspects of American life. The ADA struck a careful balance between the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and the practical needs of businesses, requiring only those modifications that did not result in an undue burden to an existing business. The law took the prospective approach of requiring equal access to businesses that were opened after the ADA became law in 1990.

Twenty-seven years is enough time for a business to know its obligations under the ADA. Building codes and state licensing requirements have been shaped to help businesses know what to do. Unfortunately, H.R. 620 ignores the bipartisan compromise that has been working for the past 27 years. H.R. 620 creates new, unnecessary burdens for a person with a disability to meet before filing a complaint against a business who has yet to comply with the 1990 law.

The House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 620 on Thursday, September 7, 2017 and now awaits action in the U.S. House.

Don't let Congress mess with the ADA!

Tell Washington: Camp is for Everyone!

In April 2017, President Trump signed an executive order titled "Buy American and Hire American." Part of this executive order calls for a reduction or elimination of the J-I Camp Counselor program and the Summer Work Travel program.

Easterseals depends on international students to fill camp counselor positions each year, as there are not enough American students and workers available. For this summer, Easterseals Iowa posted 72 camp counselor positions. Five Americans applied and were hired, the remaining positions were filled with international staff.

Many of our campers require the specialized supports that are only available at an Easterseals camp. Accessible grounds and facilities, adapted equipment and trained staff allow participants to accomplish what they may never have thought was possible - like swimming, traversing a river or playing wheelchair tennis. Other programs provide less ambitious - but no less significant - activities that teach everyday living skills, such as planning an outing to a movie or museum.

Easterseals has urged President Trump and Members of Congress to maintain the J-1 Camp Counselor program and the use of the Summer Work Travel program.

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, September 2017Easterseals urges Trump Administration to maintain J-1 Camp Counselor and Summer Work Travel programs (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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