“We need the Senate to understand all that is on the line”
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, bringing us one important step closer to making significant investments in our country, in the lives of people with disabilities and their families, and the direct support workforce. The reality is change can’t come soon enough for millions of people.
The proposal includes $150 billion for Medicaid home and community-based services, or HCBS, which provide the support people with disabilities need to be a part of their community, and better pay for the workers who support them.
“This plan is major progress in our country doing what we know is right: putting vital dollars behind something that really should never come with a price tag – basic humanity. People with disabilities, families, and the direct support professionals who support them are struggling to persevere through the hardest of times while suffering in unprecedented ways. And the clock is ticking on how much more they can take,” said Peter Berns, Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.
For years, the service system that people with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) and their families rely on, Medicaid, has been underfunded. Millions of adults and children all over the country are stuck on waiting lists for HCBS, the direct care workforce is underpaid and undervalued – the quality of services suffer, and too often, unpaid family caregivers are left to fill the gaps, struggling to balance work and family responsibilities.
Build Back Better expands access to services for people with disabilities on waiting lists and starts addressing the direct care workforce crisis, including raising wages and creating more jobs. We need this plan – and more, and we urge the Senate to move swiftly and further humanize this deal, by adding more funding for HCBS.
Congress has heard the outcry from across the country on the need for paid leave, and included a national program so no one has to choose between taking care of themselves or a family member, and their paycheck. The Arc has long advocated for a national paid leave program for family caregivers. The pandemic forced millions of people to choose between their own health, the well-being of their families, and their livelihood.
“Taking time off to care for the people we love should not be so hard. The pandemic has only underscored the urgency of implementing a national paid leave policy, and so the time is now to do the right thing for all caregivers,” said Berns.
The Arc is also pleased that the proposal includes:
- The expansion of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program to over 3 million people with disabilities living in U.S. territories
- The extension of improvements to the Child Tax Credit for one year and permanent expansion of the credit to the lowest income families
- The expanded Affordable Care Act premium tax credits through 2025
- The extension of improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers with disabilities.
“We need the Senate to understand all that is on the line. The futures of people with disabilities, families, and this critical workforce depends on this moment,” said Berns.