The Arc Responds to House Passage of The American Health Care Act: “Shows callous and dangerous disregard for the wellbeing of people with disabilities”

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement following the House of Representatives passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), with the addition of amendments that take the bill from bad to worse for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families:

“Members of the House of Representatives who supported the American Health Care Act voted against their constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We won’t soon forget those who so willingly ignored the pleas of their constituents who rely on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for comprehensive health care coverage and long term services and supports that enable them to live full lives in the community. We must call this what it is – an attack on the rights and lives of people with disabilities.

“The federal government will be walking away from a more than 50 year partnership with states when it comes to Medicaid. Deep cuts and radical restructuring will decimate the Medicaid program. With an over $800 billion cut to Medicaid, states will face difficult choices about what people to cut from the program or what services to roll back. Optional services like home and community based services are likely to be cut. Lives will be lost when people are unable to access the health care and community supports they need.

“The plan that passed the House today is insufficient to keep people with disabilities insured or to support anyone with complex medical needs. If signed into law as currently written, this bill will result in people with disabilities and their family members losing health coverage in the private insurance market and in Medicaid. Coverage also becomes unaffordable as people with pre-existing conditions lose protections against higher premiums.   Those lucky enough to retain their coverage will find that some of the services they need – Essential Health Benefits – are no longer available.  And Medicaid funded long term supports and services, which help people live independently and be included in their communities, will be even scarcer as waiting lists for services will grow all across the country.  Some may end up living in nursing homes and institutions because community services are no longer available.

“The American Health Care Act shows callous and dangerous disregard for the wellbeing of people with disabilities and their families and erases decades of progress.  Now we turn to the Senate, our last line of defense. We intend to work with Senators on both sides of the aisle to oppose this harmful legislation. We continue to encourage disability advocates across the country to reach out to their Senators to voice their concern about this bill,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

This week, The Arc released another video illustrating how Congress’ proposed changes to the ACA and Medicaid would negatively impact Americans with disabilities and their families. The video features an interview with Toby, Lindsay, and Calvin from Fairfax, VA. Calvin has Bilateral Fronto-Parietal Polymicrogyria and Cerebral Palsy and relies on multiple insurance plans to cover his medical and therapeutic treatments.

This video is the second in a series of videos The Arc will be releasing in the coming weeks, sharing the personal stories of people with disabilities and their families, and the impact of the ACA and Medicaid on their lives. The first video featured nine people who rely on the ACA and/or Medicaid, and each one has a personal message for Members of Congress and the Trump Administration.

A New Series Starts Off by Getting Disability Wrong

Over the years, we’ve seen flawed, misleading reporting on Social Security’s disability programs from National Public Radio, 60 Minutes, and the New York Times. Unfortunately, with the recent launch of a new, widely-criticized series, “Disabled America,” The Washington Post has joined the ranks of news media leaving the public with false impressions about Social Security disability benefits — and even, getting the facts plain wrong.

The Post’s new series will focus on how disability “…is shaping the culture, economy and politics…” of rural communities. The first article featured Desmond Spencer of Beaverton, Alabama as he made the difficult decision to call the Social Security Administration to ask about applying for disability benefits. The article relates that Mr. Spencer acquired painful, ongoing injuries during many years working as a roofer, welder, ranch hand, and garbage collector – including falling off a roof and being unable to get treatment due to his lack of health insurance. Readers do not learn whether Mr. Spencer ever applies for benefits, and do not know if he will qualify.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) summed up the first article’s many flaws:

“…the article cherry-picks one of the counties with the highest rates of disability benefit receipt, to create a dystopian portrait where Social Security disability benefits represent out-of-control government spending riddled with rampant abuse.

Reality looks quite a bit different.”

After digging in, CAP researchers revealed that the Post’s numbers are “flat-out wrong,” including its assertion that up to one-third of working-age adults in many rural counties receive disability benefits. CAP explained in detail the errors in the Post’s analysis and why that conclusion simply cannot be substantiated. The Post issued a correction – and CAP and others quickly pointed out ongoing major problems with the Post’s data, even after the correction.

Thirty-one national disability organizations subsequently called on the Post to correct and clarify the skewed and misleading numbers that remain in the article. Numerous groups have called out a host of additional problems with the story and data. And the Huffington Post and Des Moines Gazette have reported on the article’s flaws.

With the President’s budget director signaling that cuts to Social Security disability benefits may be under consideration, it’s vital that reporters get the facts right. Here’s a round-up of analyses and responses.

The Arc Video Offers Disability & Family Perspective on Looming Healthcare Reforms

Washington, DC – Today, The Arc is releasing another video illustrating how Congress’ proposed changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid would negatively impact Americans with disabilities and their families. The video features an interview with Toby, Lindsay, and Calvin from Fairfax, VA. Calvin has Bilateral Fronto-Parietal Polymicrogyria and Cerebral Palsy and relies on multiple insurance plans to cover his medical and therapeutic treatments.

This family’s story is shared by thousands of families across the country who are imploring Congress to keep the ACA and leave Medicaid untouched to allow their loved ones to continue to receive the supports they need to live full and independent lives. Here are some of the key ways in which the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will impact Toby, Lindsay and Calvin, and others in the intellectual and developmental disability community:

  • Proposes a more than $800 billion cut to Medicaid over the next decade, the program which provides funding for essential services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independent and healthy lives;
  • Allows for insurance companies to discriminate against people with disabilities by using pre-existing conditions as a pretext for higher and often unaffordable health care premiums;
  • Places more pressure on states to support an already under-funded program, which will result in smaller budgets, less coverage and fewer services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The Arc opposes the AHCA and the proposed changes to the bill, as both will have widespread and terrible consequences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Congress needs to realize that a vote for the proposed health care reform is a vote against the health and wellbeing of their constituents, which include people with disabilities,” said Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, The Arc.

This video is the second in a series of videos The Arc will be releasing in the coming weeks, sharing the personal stories of people with disabilities and their families, and the impact of the ACA and Medicaid on their lives. The first video featured nine people who rely on the ACA and/or Medicaid, and each one has a personal message for Members of Congress and the Trump Administration.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Can People with Disabilities Afford this Tax Cut?

By Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy

May 1, 2017 – Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump released an outline of his tax reform proposal on April 26. In what he calls “the biggest individual and business tax cut in American History,” the President offers a plan than would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest of citizens and substantially add to federal deficits and the debt. Low income Americans, including the disproportionate number with disabilities, would eventually be faced with even greater cuts to critical federal programs to make up for the resulting budget shortfall.

President Trump’s 2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs

“The Biggest Individual and Business Tax Cut in American History”

Goals for Tax Reform

  • Grow the economy and create millions of jobs
  • Simplify our burdensome tax code
  • Provide tax relief to American families—especially middle-income families
  • Lower the business tax rate from one of the highest in the world to one of the lowest

Individual Reform

  • Tax relief for American families, especially middle-income families:
    1. Reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets for 10%, 25% and 35%
    2. Doubling the standard deduction
    3. Providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses
  • Simplification:
    1. Eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers.
    2. Protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions.
    3. Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.
    4. Repeal the death tax.
  • Repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income.

Business Reform

  • 15% business tax rate
  • Territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies
  • One-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas
  • Eliminate tax breaks for special interests

Process:
Throughout the month of May, the Trump administration will hold listening sessions with stakeholders to receive their input and will continue working with the House and Senate to develop the details of a plan that provides massive tax relief, creates jobs, and makes America more competitive – and can pass both chambers.

To understand the impact of this tax plan on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, it is also necessary to look at some of the basic facts about current tax policy. As the leading charitable organization advocating on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc seeks to ensure that federal funding for programs that help our constituents to live meaningful lives in the community is preserved.

Essential federal programs like Medicaid, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and the many discretionary programs – like education, housing, and employment – are all funded through tax dollars, whether through individual, corporate, payroll, excise, estate, or other taxes. As stated by former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

In addressing the impact of the plan, it is necessary to look at the assumptions in the plan’s goals, along with some of the details of the proposed changes:

  • Grow the economy and create millions of jobs is a basic goal and assumption of this plan. However, the argument that tax cuts will be made up for by increased economic activity has long been discredited by leading economists. At most, a small percentage can be recouped. Read more on this from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
  • Simplify our burdensome tax code. Reducing the current 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets (for 10%, 25% and 35%) does little to make taxes any easier to complete. It would simply lower the amount of revenue generated.
  • Provide tax relief to American families—especially middle-income families. The implication that America is a high tax country is only true if the United States is compared to all nations, including the majority that are developing. When compared to other developed nations, the U.S. tax burden is below average. Learn more on comparative income taxes from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
    On average, Americans pay an effective income tax rate of 9.5 percent, according to research by the Tax Policy Center. As shown below, however, the federal tax system is progressive with middle income Americans paying a much lower rate. Those with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 pay almost no federal taxes, and consequently, would stand to gain very little with the Trump tax cut plan.
  • Lower the business tax rate from one of the highest in the world to one of the lowest. While the top statutory corporate tax rate of 35% in the U.S. (shown right) is, in fact, among the highest, the effective tax rate is much lower. The average effective tax rate – the actual rate paid after deductions and credits – is slightly lower than other developed countries (27.1% versus 27.7%). See Congressional Research Service (CRS) report for more information.

Further, it is important to note that corporate tax contributions have been steadily declining for decades. As shown below, the corporate share of federal tax revenue now only accounts for 11% of federal revenue, down by two-thirds in 60 years.

One of the reasons for this drop is changes in how corporations are operating and being taxed. An increasing number of corporations’ profits are subject to no taxation (foreign profits that stay abroad) or different taxes (income tax in the case of S corporations). S corporations are structured as “pass through” entities. They do not pay the corporate income tax, but rather pass profits through to owners who pay tax under the individual income tax at a lower rate. Over 90% of U.S. businesses do not pay the corporate tax rate.

 

 

President Trump’s plan to allow S corporations to pay the proposed top business rate of 15% instead of the rate they pay under their current individual tax rate (see brackets below) would disproportionately benefit the very wealthy while draining public revenues. Currently, only individual income below $37,950 a year is taxed at 15 percent or less. Under the Trump plan, anyone who makes their income via a pass-through entity would pay the 15% rate no matter how much they made. President Trump owns over 500 such business entities, according to the Trump Organization’s tax counsel.

Not explained in the President’s plan is that it will increase deficits by an additional $3 to 7 trillion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget . The proposed 60% cut in the corporate tax rate alone would lose $2.4 trillion over 10 years. Such massive cuts to revenues could have substantial impact on all human services funding, including services and supports for people with I/DD.

House and Senate leadership have consistently required that legislation be “paid for” in order to move through the legislative process and the President’s plan does not include viable pay-fors, therefore creating a major conflict if there is any interest in moving it forward. The Arc will remain vigilant in monitoring the impact of the plan if it begins to move legislatively.

For additional resources on federal taxes and the President’s plan see: