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What's Happening in Washington

House Budget Introduced

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan introduced a budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014. Easter Seals opposes this set of priorities for several reasons. First, this budget recommends cuts of as much as 22 percent over the next ten years for programs like special education, vocational rehabilitation, housing, transportation. It also calls to restructure Medicaid into a block grant to the states which would result in cuts to services under Medicaid for people with disabilities. The Ryan budget also recommends limiting Medicare and Supplemental Security (SSI) income for children. While the budget does not have the force of law, it is important as it is used to guide Congress’ spending decisions in the months to come. The House is set to vote soon on this budget.

UPDATE: On Thursday, April 10, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res.96, the FY2015 budget proposal from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, on a vote of 219-205. The U.S. Senate has no plans to address the plan.

The President's Budget Proposal: What does it mean for People with Disabilities?

In late January, we blogged about the President's State of the Union address and the principles of opportunity, action and optimism that were the focus of that speech. On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the President took the next step in laying out his vision for fulfilling those principles with the release of his budget. Presidential budgets are not laws. Congress makes the real decisions about funding priorities, but they use what the President puts forth as a starting point.

Every year, we in Washington pore through the reams of recommendations that come out and identify those things that are of most importance to people with disabilities. Easter Seals partners with government and with the private sector to deliver exceptional services to more than 1.8 million individuals so that children and adults with disabilities and other special needs can live with equality, dignity and independence. This gives us unique insight into what initiatives will be most effective.

This budget calls for increased funding in areas we know are most important for people with disabilities. These include early childhood education, job training, veterans’ services, housing and transportation. We applaud this attention to people with disabilities. Are there things in the budget we would change? Of course there are, but we think this is an important first step.

Tell Congress about YOUR priorities! You can use the action alert below to add your voice and personal message to this debate:

A helpful chart (PDF*) that tracks the funding history of federal disability programs through March 2014 and includes the President’s budget request is now available. Easter Seals’ Government Relations team will continue to monitor the budget process as it winds its way through Congress.

Your Voice in Washington

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. Below you will find current highlights from our Government Relations team and their work on behalf of Easter Seals and people with disabilities:

Senators Need to Hear YOUR Support FOR International Disability Rights

Easter Seals is calling on its supporters to join in a final push to convince the U.S. Senate to approve the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), an international agreement based on our Americans with Disabilities Act.

Just before the New Year, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stopped negotiations on the CRPD with Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). Easter Seals wants to see the treaty approved, and to do that, we need Senator Corker to come back to the table and work to that end. People with disabilities deserve this treaty to be approved. Please take a minute and weigh in with your Senator.

Helpful Tools for Choosing Insurance Plans in the New Marketplace

Easter Seals firmly believes that people with disabilities and their families should have affordable health care that provides the services they need, when they need them. The National Health Council (NHC) has developed a guide (PDF*) to help understand the Summary and Benefits section of insurance plans. This information can help make clear what is covered, or not covered, by a specific plan. To help consumers understand their out-of-pocket health care costs as they shop for a marketplace plan, NHC has also launched, an interactive web-based suite of resources. informs consumers about expected health care costs in the marketplace using a personalized out-of-pocket cost estimator and patient scenarios that explain how an individual’s costs can vary under different health insurance plan designs.

Current Legislative Alerts: Take Action!

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.

Public Policy Priorities for the 113th Congress

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.

Funding History of Federal Disability Programs, January 2014 (PDF*)

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.

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