Updated CBO Score of Senate Health Care Bill Confirms the Worst for Individuals with Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the Congressional Budget Office’s updated report on the Senate Health Care Legislation:

“The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) initial score of the Senate Republican’s health care plan confirms that this legislation will have a dire impact on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This bill cuts $772 billion from Medicaid. But the real price we will pay is the health of millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid to live and work in their communities. The second score showed how much deeper the cuts will be long-term. CBO found that compared to current law Medicaid would decrease by 35% in 2036.

“The numbers highlight what we already knew – this bill is dangerous and insufficient to keep people with disabilities insured or support anyone with complex medical needs. Any Senator supporting this travesty of a bill will be accountable for the negative impact on their constituents and the irrevocable damage it will do to our community based services system. As the initial CBO score showed, a vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of cutting health care coverage from at least 22 million individuals by 2026. Per the report, by next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law.

“This bill unravels decades of bipartisan work and sets back the progress of the disability rights movement in our nation, all for the purposes of giving a massive tax cut to health insurance firms, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other entities. The authors of this legislation show a disturbing disregard for the health, wellbeing, and independence of their constituents with disabilities. The numbers paint a bleak picture –  these cuts could mean the difference between community living and life in an institution or in some cases the difference between life and death. The cuts to Medicaid included in this bill are an assault on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we implore Senators to do the right thing and oppose this bill,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Advocacy is Working – Turn Up the Heat this July 4th Congressional Recess

By Peter V. Berns, CEO

Peter Berns at the U.S. Capitol with (left to right) Sen. Cory Booker; Janel George, National Women’s Law Center; Rep. John Lewis; Sen. Brian Schatz; and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

This week, I had the immeasurable honor of sitting on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and talking with Senator Cory Booker and Representative John Lewis about our fight to save our health care and access to community living under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Over the course of our discussion, we were joined by Senators Brian Schatz, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Murphy, Chris Coons, and Jeff Merkley.

It was an amazing and inspiring evening — even as we feared a looming vote in the Senate on legislation that threatens the health, independence, and lives of millions of Americans with disabilities.

Over the last few weeks, from coast to coast we’ve seen people with disabilities and their allies speaking up and taking action– including chapters of The Arc and their members. Among the many recent highlights from our network:

Chapters of The Arc in VA rallying

Virginia chapters of The Arc joined advocates in Washington, DC for a rally on June 6.

While that Senate vote didn’t happen this week, our fight continues. Senators will travel home for a Fourth of July recess with some hoping to vote on a revised bill when they return. Now is the time to ramp up our advocacy even more – keep up the calls to your Senators.

Attend community events and be visible with your support of Medicaid – showing up matters. July 4th is Independence Day, and Medicaid provides independence for millions of people. Make signs and bring friends and family to parades and other community events. Take pictures and share them on social media to encourage others to get involved to protect Medicaid and stop this dangerous bill. Additionally, some Senators may host public town hall meetings during the recess. Check out this resource listing scheduled town hall meetings across the country (it is regularly updated) and find out if your Senators are hosting one.

As Representative John Lewis said to us on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, “Many of us are called at a time to be witness, witness to the truth. You have to tell the truth and speak truth to power. You have to find a way to get in the way. To get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble, to change things. So I appeal to each and every one of you to go out and to do your very best. If you fail to act, then history may not be kind to us. We cannot let the American people down.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Please #JoinOurFight and take action over the Fourth of July Congressional recess to #SaveMedicaid.

The Arc Responds to Delayed Vote on Senate Health Care Bill That Showed Dangerous Disregard for People with Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement in response to the Senate delaying the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act:

“We are pleased that the Senate is delaying its vote on this dangerous piece of legislation, but we remain vigilant in our opposition to this bill. We commend the Members of Congress who stood up for the rights of their constituents with intellectual and developmental disabilities by opposing the Better Care Reconciliation Act over the last few days. This bill showed a dangerous disregard for the wellbeing of people with disabilities and those with complex medical needs.

“I want to warn advocates that this is a delay, not a defeat of this threat. The bill is still an assault on the rights of people with disabilities. Any Senator supporting this travesty of a bill will be accountable for the negative impact on their constituents and the irrevocable damage it will do to our community based services system. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of cutting health care coverage from at least 22 million individuals by 2026. Per the budget report, by next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law.

“We will continue our efforts to change the hearts and minds of those who supported this bill and help them understand that their constituents rely on Medicaid for comprehensive health care coverage and long term services and supports that enable them to live full lives in the community. Those are the Senators we need to reach; we need them to realize what is at stake.  Our work is far from over, we will continue to work tirelessly in opposition to this bill. We encourage members of our network to share their stories with their Senators during the upcoming recess,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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.

The Arc Warns that the Senate Republican Leadership’s Discussion Draft of Health Care Legislation Shows Callous Disregard for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON, DC – The Arc issued the following statement after the release of the Senate Republicans’ health care legislation today:

“This bill will have a devastating impact on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Make no mistake – people’s lives and independence are on the line.

“More than 10 million people with disabilities rely on Medicaid to live and work in their communities. This bill severely cuts Medicaid. Home and community based services are optional or waiver services for states and, when facing a loss of billions in federal funding, they are what is likely to be cut first. The Arc is outraged that the Senate would undo decades of bipartisan progress building our community based services system with no discussion of the impact on the individuals and families affected by the changes, all for the purposes of giving a massive tax cut to health insurance firms, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and other entities.

“People with disabilities across the country are terrified of what this bill will do to their lives. Medicaid provides access to quality health care and services and supports which help them with the basics of life, such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, managing their finances, transportation and more.  It allows family members to stay employed, knowing that their loved one with disabilities is supported to live independently.  For many it may mean the difference between life and death.  This legislation is an assault on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we implore Senators to do the right thing and oppose this bill. A vote in favor of this bill is a vote against the progress of the disability rights movement and constituents who rely on Medicaid for their independence,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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.

Disability in America – Second Article in Series Continues Biased, Flawed Reporting

by T.J. Sutcliffe, Director, Income & Housing Policy

In March, The Washington Post launched a new series, “Disabled, America,” to look at how disability “…is shaping the culture, economy and politics…” of rural communities. The first article in the series met with widespread criticism for multiple errors in its data and facts, and for leaving the public with negative, false impressions about Social Security’s disability programs and rural beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, the second article in the Post’s series only went further down the path of reporting by stereotype and anecdote. The article profiles a family in Pemiscot County, Missouri with several members who have disabilities, including a mother and her adult daughter who receive Social Security disability benefits.

Media Matters summed up the outrage at the article’s portrayal of the family as “…a ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘cartoonish’ illustration of the struggles of those living with poverty in rural America.” In Poynter, S.I. Rosenbaum noted that the article failed to provide even basic facts about Social Security’s disability programs, writing that “…without them, in my opinion, the story is incomplete and even misleading.” The Urban Institute pointed out many of those missing facts.

Notably, the second article failed to provide important context, such as the fact that Missouri has a relatively high statewide rate of residents with disabilities, particularly in many rural Missouri counties. In addition, record numbers of Americans today live in multigenerational households, and disability often runs in families for reasons that include genetics, common exposure to environmental hazards, and similar past and ongoing access to (or lack of) health care.

With President Trump having recently proposed over $72 billion in cuts over 10 years to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits, reporting that focuses on anecdote, with little to no context, runs the risk of leading policymakers down a dangerous and harmful path. In letters responding the Post’s first article and second article, over 50 national organizations urged Congress to “…ensure that any discussions about how to strengthen the nation’s Social Security system are informed by facts—not well-debunked myths and offensive stereotypes.”

Here’s a round-up of analyses and responses to the second Post article – and if you missed it, be sure to read our round-up of responses to the first Post article, as well.

It’s Budget Season in Washington – So Far These are the 5 Worst Things for People with Disabilities

By Annie Acosta, Director of Fiscal and Family Support Policy

The President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget released last month would make unprecedented cuts to public education, health, transportation, housing, and countless other effective federal programs. These massive cuts would affect most Americans in one form or another, and would be particularly devastating to people with disabilities and their families. The budget is titled “The New Foundation for American Greatness” – but the reality couldn’t be more different. Here are five reasons the President’s proposed budget is anything but great for people with disabilities.

    1. More Cuts to Medicaid
      Under the President’s proposed budget, Medicaid, the primary health insurance and long term services and supports program for people with disabilities, would lose $610 billion over 10 years (on top of the over $830 billion in cuts in the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives in March). The combined cuts roughly halve the program’s federal budget by 2027. Medicaid’s “optional” services, expected to take the brunt of such a drastic cut, include prescription drugs, physical therapy, and all home and community based services under state plan and “waiver” programs. Medicaid, including home and community based services, makes it possible for millions of people with disabilities to survive and to live and work in the community.
       
    2. Breaks the Promise on Social Security
      Despite President Trump’s promises to not cut Social Security, the budget also calls for over $72 billion in cuts to Social Security’s disability programs over the next 10 years, including cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security and SSI benefits are modest, but absolutely essential for people with disabilities to put a roof over their head, food on the table, and to pay for their out-of-pocket medical expenses and disability related costs.
       
    3. Slashes Community Living Supports
      President Trump’s proposed budget would sharply reduce – or even eliminate – a wide variety of effective federal programs that help to make a life in the community possible for millions of people with disabilities. These include:   

      • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides essential nutrition assistance for millions of people with disabilities, would face a 29 percent cut over 10 years. By 2027, over 5 million households that include a person with a disability could lose their SNAP benefit under this cut.
      • Affordable housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development would face a nearly 15 percent cut in 2018. The President’s budget targets the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program for a proposed $25 million cut in 2018. This would leave the Section 811 program with insufficient funds to renew all existing project-based rental assistance contracts thereby placing current lease compliant tenants in 811 properties at imminent risk of homelessness.
      • Councils on Developmental Disabilities, independent living services, and traumatic brain injury services would see their funding to states eliminated and replaced with a new “innovation” program with less than half of the funding for the three programs.
         

Click here to see a listing of discretionary programs and their proposed percentage cuts.

  1. Inadequate, Unworkable Paid Leave
    The President’s budget proposes a new paid leave program that would provide up to 6 weeks of paid leave for mothers and fathers to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. According to the Associated Press, “states would be required to provide leave payments through existing unemployment insurance programs and would have to identify cuts or tax hikes, as needed, to cover the costs.”The proposal has been widely criticized as both unworkable – creating an unfunded mandate to states that would burden and undermine already-fragile unemployment systemsand inadequate. It leaves out the 75% of people who take leave in the U.S. for family caregiving and medical reasons – including people with disabilities who need leave to address their own health, and people who need leave to care for a family member with a disability or illness. In addition, 6 weeks often simply isn’t enough – particularly if you have a disability, are caring for a family member, or have a newborn in intensive care. In comparison, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Finally, benefits would likely be insufficient: on average, state unemployment insurance programs presently only cover one third of a worker’s wages.
     
  2. Uses Bad Math and Benefits the Most Prosperous
    President Trump’s proposed budget purports to cut $3.6 trillion in spending to balance the budget in 10 years, while also offering more than $5.5 trillion in tax reductions. The outsized tax cuts come primarily from reducing or eliminating taxes that are paid predominantly by wealthy households. These include the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax, and individual income tax on income earned through “pass-through” entities. The end result is that the budget would overwhelmingly benefit profitable corporations and wealthy individuals.In addition, the entire budget is based on bad math that virtually all independent economic analysts have dismissed.   

    • It assumes massive amounts of new revenue from a 50% increase in economic growth resulting from tax cuts, renegotiated trade deals, and deregulation.
       
    • It claims there will be no deficit after 10 years as dramatic economic growth will allow the government to collect about $2 trillion more in tax revenue. However, the budget doesn’t include the cost of the proposed tax cuts, therefore relying on its tax cuts to both pay for themselves and add $2 trillion in additional tax revenue.

Next Steps in the House and Senate

Federal budgets are statement of our nation’s values – and it’s clear to The Arc that this budget simply doesn’t reflect what most Americans value. Fortunately, the President’s budget merely conveys the Administration’s priorities and is non-binding. The House and Senate must each develop their own budgets and reconcile any differences to implement their budget plans.

The House is presently developing its budget and may release it after the July 4 recess and the Senate could take the House’s budget shortly afterwards. The House budget may include many of the harmful provisions in the President’s Budget outlined above.

The Arc and numerous organizations representing civil rights, human services, and other communities are deeply committed to preventing the passage of harmful budgets. We’re working together to put a face on these proposed cuts and to urge Congress to reject the President’s proposed budget.

Research to Practice Webinar: State of the States in IDD 2017

State of the States LogoAs part of its inaugural Research to Practice series, The Arc of the United States and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities co-sponsored a timely webinar: The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2017 presented by Dr. David Braddock, Senior Associate Vice President of the University of Colorado (CU) System and Executive Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities. The State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Project of National Significance has provided critical information on national and state revenues, spending, and programmatic trends in IDD services and supports for 35 years. The information collected through collaboration with state agencies reveals the longitudinal impact of federal and state fiscal policies on innovations in the support and services system in the states and nation.

The webinar has been archived and can be accessed here. Learn more about the importance of Medicaid to people with disabilities here. Learn more about the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities here.

New Video: How President Trump’s Budget Breaks a Promise to Protect Social Security and the Families That Rely on It

Washington, DC – Today The Arc and the Center for American Progress released a video showcasing two personal stories about how Social Security is more than just retirement income. Social Security is a system that protects workers and families throughout their lives. If President Trump’s $72.4 billion in cuts to Social Security’s disability programs in his budget were to be implemented, the impact on families like those featured in this video would be dire.

“Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are part of Social Security and the promise of that program must be honored for Katie, Will, Heather, and millions of people who need to access these basic but crucial benefits. Social Security is far too often the only thing keeping the lights on and food on the table for a person with a disability or a chronic condition.

“Heather, Katie, and Will are terrified by what this budget proposal could mean for them and for people who in the future need these benefits. This budget lays the cards on the table – and advocates across the country need to share their stories with elected officials and urge them to reject these cuts to Social Security,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

This video highlights the stories of Will, a child with a disability, and Heather, a woman with terminal cancer. Will and his family relied on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to pay for medication to prevent his seizures. SSI is part of Social Security that supports children and adults with disabilities. Without SSI, Will’s family wouldn’t have been able to afford his medicine or medical expenses, or meet his basic needs.

Heather was working internationally promoting fair elections and democracy when she got sick. By the time she was diagnosed, her cancer had metastasized and she feared she would end up impoverished paying for her cancer treatments. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) helps American workers like Heather if they are faced with a life-changing disability or illness. Once her cancer spread Heather was unable to continue working. Without SSDI, she wouldn’t be able to afford chemotherapy and the prescription drugs that she relies on to survive.

These stories highlight the value of SSI and SSDI for those families who find themselves in need of additional support.

Share this video with your network to help people understand all that Social Security does to support families across the country.

Join Our Fight – as new threats to the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities arise, we want to keep you in the loop with the most up to date information.

Read more about The Arc’s position on President Trump’s proposed budget.

If you are a member of the media and interested interviewing the people in this video, contact Kristen McKiernan, mckiernan@thearc.org or Sarah Bal, bal@thearc.org.

 

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.