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To learn more about the specific measures and bills outlined here, visit The Library of Congress' Thomas Online.
Partners in Making Your Case is a free, self-paced online course that will give you tips on how to communicate your needs with your lawmakers.
In the wake of President Obama's and Vice-President Biden's commitment to do something to curb gun violence, gun rights backers have asked that mental health issues must be considered. To respond comprehensively to their request, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates this month. The White House would like to propose legislation just after President Obama is sworn in to his next term. For this information, see the Associated Press Yahoo news article White House ramping up gun violence discussions By JULIE PACE, January 8, 2013
The following article was sent by DAWN (Disability Advocates Wisconsin Network) The Congress and the President are negotiating over more than only taxes. If they cannot reach a decision by the beginning of January and if they add cuts to entitlement programs, besides the tax increases and federal spending cuts, there will be drastic cuts to discretionary programs that affect people with disabilities. If you are served by any of the programs relying on a fixed federal funding including those for people with disabilities mentioned below or are concerned about cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, please contact President Obama on his website or contact your Congressional Representative through their website. The House members can inform Speaker Boehner of their constituents’ opinions.
People with disabilities will be impacted in a variety of ways if Congress and the President do not reach agreement to change current law by the end of the year. A combination of federal spending cuts and tax increases will go into effect at the end of 2012 and beginning of January 2013 if no action is taken.If President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner cannot reach agreement, some taxes will increase, tax credits will expire, and federal unemployment benefits will end. While these actions are concerning, advocates are focused on drastic cuts to discretionary programs like general and special education, employment supports, and housing programs that people with disabilities rely on. Each program would be cut about 8 percent. Unlike entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, discretionary programs get a fixed sum of funding. If funds are cut, Wisconsin will receive less federal aid to support a wide range of programs, such as vocational rehabilitation. Services that assist all citizens will also be cut. Public safety and law enforcement, medical and scientific research, public health; and environmental protection are only a few examples of the services that will be cut is current law is not changed. The details about the bill to avoid the fiscal cliff are constantly changing. Some entitlement reforms are now under discussion. Congress and the President need to hear from constituents whether programs that serve people with disabilities, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and many of the discretionary programs need to remain strong without changes.
According to the U.N. about 126 countries have ratified the Disabilities Rights convention and it is backed by the Obama administration and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, however the Senate has yet to ratify it. There are Senators opposing the treaty, so amendments are being worked on. Ratifying the treaty will cause no change to U.S. law and it would allow the U.S. to take a leadership position on disability rights throughout the world and ensure Americans with disabilities the same protections they have here in the U.S. when they travel abroad.
For more information, visit the news article at Disability Scoop: Fate Of Disability Treaty Unclear In Senate
The fall election includes the race for the President of the United States. Early voting starts in many states. Visit your local municipal clerk’s office to request a ballot! Why stand in lines on election day - get out there and vote today!
To find out where your candidates stand on issues important to people with disabilities see article below.
We are encouraging you to get involved with disability issues and policies. Disability Rights groups across the country are asking you to get involved with the coming elections as important programs for people with disabilities are at stake. Learn about the economy, our government's budget crisis and the intentions of candidates for election on programs critical to people with disabilities like Education, Employment, Transportation, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. The NDRN reported that "according to a recent study conducted at Rutgers University, 14.7 million Americans with a disability voted in the 2008 election, up from 10.9 million in 2000. It is estimated there are approximately 35 million eligible voters with disabilities in America." This is a significant group of people and they and their families and caregivers could have a great impact on the election. The NDRN and it's member agencies work to uphold the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 which gives individuals with disabilities the right to participate in elections equal to those of other voters. NDRN works to ensure accessibility at the polling place and education of voter rights.
For more information on the 2012 Elections, visit our NHU guide.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. See the article, Medicare Is Not "Bankrupt" Health Reform Has Improved Program's Financing The article does not deny that Medicare faces financial challenges, however even after 2024, Medicare will be able to cover most hospital insurance costs at 87 percent and 100 percent of physician and outpatient costs and the Medicare prescription drug benefit that can never run short of funds.(The article explains why these programs are solvent.) The article states a long list of savings suggestions provided by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission were sent to Congress that would preserve Medicare's guarantee of health coverage without raising the eligibility age or otherwise shifting costs to vulnerable beneficiaries. "Policymakers and the American public should not be driven into adopting such proposals by misleading claims that Medicare is on the verge of “bankruptcy.” Instead, we should pursue a balanced deficit-reduction approach that puts all parts of the budget on the table, including revenues."
July 26th, 2012 was proclaimed the 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act and a day to celebrate by President Obama. In his proclamation, the President described the work and advocacy of citizens with disabilities to tear down barriers and secure protections for the same "fundamental rights and freedoms afforded to each of us by our Nation's founding documents." With this historic piece of civil rights legilation we became the first nation to give equality to its citizens with disabilities. He outlined what his administration has done to "build on the legacy of the ADA"
1. The Affordable Care Act - insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with disabilities because of pre-existing conditions, medical history or genetic information.
2. Protect and strengthened Medicare and Medicaid by improving benefits and opposing proposals that would shift costs to seniors and persons with disabilities.
3. Establishment of the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services to help ensure people with disabilities have the support they need to live with respect and dignity in their communities and to be fully included in our national life.
4. New standards for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that will help measure and improve outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities.
He concluded with thoughts on the barriers that remain, we can pay tribute to the advocates and how Americans with disabilities have become leaders in every field and celebrate their contributions to our Nation.
In the words of Justin Dart, Jr. "Vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does." In this article, Daily Democracy, Frances Fhay discusses the fact that people with disabilities have low voter turnout. Although there may be reasons of accessibility why that is true, the author gives a call to action to get involved with issues that matter to you. If you do not get involved, the issues will not be addressed. With 54 million Americans with disabilities, "We must empower our community and show that we are a force that needs to be listened to. We need to support candidates that address our interests and our issues." Read much more in the article.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act was passed just a year ago. The new law made a number of improvements in our nation's health care system for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and disabilities.
Life Navigators organization (formerly The ARC) outlines the items in the Affordable Care Act that are most important to people with disabilities such as the prohibition on insurance companies to exclude people with previous health conditions, in the following article: Provisions in the Health Care Reform Law that are Most Important for People with Intellectual and Developmental DisabilitiesFrom the WhiteHouse Blog find out how the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans in the following article: One Year After Failed Repeal Effort, Affordable Care Act Continues to Help Americans by Nancy-Ann DeParle and visit the short report on how this bill has helped Americans.
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