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The U.S. Senate will soon vote on legislation that will limit critical community services for people with disabilities. Two different bills are being considered: one to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Better Care Reconciliation Act) and the other is to repeal-only (Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act). Both bills jeopardize access to health care and services for millions of children and adults with disabilities and must be defeated.
Here's what's at stake:
Preexisting condition protections or essential health benefit protections can be waived or eliminated;
Life-saving health and supports services for people with disabilities can be reduced; and
Opportunities for independent living and full participation in their community are restricted by cuts to essential home and community-based support funding.
It's not over. We can stop these policies. But we need your help…again.
On Tuesday, July 17, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suspended Senate consideration of its Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). His action comes on the heels of Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) announcing, in separate statements, that they would not support BCRA, joining Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) in opposing BCRA.
Instead, Majority Leader McConnell plans to hold an ACA repeal-only vote in the coming days that would include a two-year transition period for Congress to pass its replacement. It is uncertain if there are 51 votes in the Senate to pass repeal-only legislation. Easterseals supported the ACA for its protections and improvement to care for individuals with disabilities. Easterseals will continue to fight against the ACA repeal and other legislation that cuts Medicaid services for people with disabilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.