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What's Happening in Washington

Take Action: Help Us Support Access to Essential Services and Supports

Thanks to key federal programs, children and adults with disabilities and others are not only meeting key milestones, they are living independently and contributing to their communities. These programs are vital to their success.

Congress is beginning the process for determining FY 2019 funding levels for federal programs that, for example, provide children with disabilities with access to early education and therapy services or help unemployed older adults and at-risk veterans find jobs in their communities. Congress needs to know how important these programs are for children and adults with disabilities and other most-in-need populations.

And you can help make a difference!

Tell Congress to prioritize funding for services for children and adults with disabilities, older adults, and veterans by taking separate action on the following programs:

Thank you in advance for your continued advocacy and support.

Help Promote Community Living and Services for Individuals with Disabilities

The Money Follows the Person (MFP) program is a Medicaid program that has helped more than 75,000 people with disabilities and seniors move from nursing homes and other institutions to the community.

The MFP program, which was first authorized by President George W. Bush in 2005, has expired.

Bipartisan legislation known as the EMPOWER Care Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate (S. 2227) to extend this vital program. A companion bill is expected to be introduced soon in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Easterseals Responds to President's FY 2019 Budget

On February 12th, President Trump released his budget recommendation for fiscal year 2019 and beyond. Of significance to Easterseals, the budget recommends restructuring Medicaid from its current federal funding guarantee to a per capita cap or block grant funding mechanism. In addition, the FY 2019 budget recommends significant cuts to employment and other discretionary program funding. See our budget statement from Angela F. Williams, Easterseals President/CEO, and our funding update on key federal programs and agencies.

ADA Education and Reform Act passes House

On Thursday, February 15th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 225-to-192 to pass the ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), a bill that would significantly weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its protections for individuals with disabilities.

As an original supporter of the ADA, Easterseals believes our country is strongest when all Americans, including individuals with disabilities, can fully participate in and contribute to their communities. Yesterday's vote on H.R. 620 was disappointing. Easterseals will continue to work to stop efforts to curb access to public places and essential services or otherwise weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Thousands of Easterseals and disability advocates sent messages to their Representatives telling them to vote NO on the bill. See how your Representative voted on H.R. 620.

Federal Government Funded through March 23rd; CHIP and MIECHV Reauthorized

Early on Friday, February 9, 2018, Congress passed and the President signed another temporary funding measure to keep the federal government open through midnight on March 23, 2018.

The extension also funds the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2027, the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program through 2022, and included a 2-year budget plan which raises spending for non-defense discretionary programs. Easterseals has supported the call for a bipartisan budget deal that would raise the discretionary budget caps to provide Congress with more resources to fund programs and services important to Easterseals and individuals with disabilities. Your voices were heard!

Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorized through 2027

The February 9, 2018 action to temporarily fund the goverment through March 23rd also included a long-term extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The program provides immunizations, check-ups, and other care for children with and without disabilities whose families do not qualify for Medicaid. 

The program’s authorization had expired October 1, 2017. The February 9th action fully funds and further extends CHIP through Fiscal Year 2027.

Easterseals advocates sent nearly 3,500 emails to Congress urging their Senators and Representatives to fully reauthorize this critical program.

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.

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.

Funding History of Federal Disability Programs, February 2018 (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. Additionally, we have also created a FY 2019 funding chart for Federal Agencies from numbers in the President's 2019 Budget Proposal.

Easterseals Principles on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform (PDF*)

Easterseals supports a rigorous debate on policies and strategies to grow the economy, improve our nation’s fiscal health, and strengthen and protect social programs for our country’s most vulnerable populations. Proposals related to the federal budget, tax reform, deficit reduction, and strategic investments may have a direct impact on the lives of children and adults with disabilities. Easterseals policy decisions on fiscal policy and tax reform will be based on Easterseals Principles on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform as approved by the Easterseals Board of Directors on October 20, 2017.

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.

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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