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Legislation: National - 2012 Archives

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What's New? Legislation Archives

Please also check out Legislation: National for the latest on important legislative issues that could impact U.S. Citizens with Disabilities

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New Sign January 2013-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will meet with mental health and disability advocates to discuss policies concerning mental health and curbing gun violence legislation

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

New Sign Advocacy Alert! - December 19, 2012 - Fiscal Cliff: The Impact on People with Disabilities - What Does It Mean to You?

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.

December 3, 2012 - This Week, Disability Groups are Promoting the U.S. Senate Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty

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

October 22, 2012! Did you know that you can vote early?!

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.

Advocacy Alert! October, 2012 - Want to know where the Presidential candidates stand on Disability Issues? See the video or transcript from the National Forum on Disability Issues

A coalition of Disability Organizations hosted a National Forum on Disability Issues, on Friday, September 28 from 11:30 – 2:30 CDT. Each of the Presidential Candidates sent representatives to speak on their behalf on Disability Issues. The National Forum was held in Columbus, Ohio so Ohio state representatives also spoke. Download the full NFDI2012 transcript, as recorded by the live open-captioning service or Watch the entire NFDI2012 webcast here on YouTube. 18 separate chapters are posted to allow for faster download, buffering, and navigation. To learn more about the National Forum on Disability Issues, visit this website www.nfdi.org.

Advocacy Alert! October 31, 2012 - Get involved! Get prepared to vote!

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.

Advocacy Alert! September 28, 2012 - Disability Organizations have invited the Presidential Candidates to speak at the National Forum on Disability Issues - Catch the live stream on your home computer

A coalition of Disability Organizations is hosting a National Forum on Disability Issues, Friday, September 28 from 11:30 – 2:30 CDT. Each of the Presidential Candidates will be sending representatives to speak on their behalf on Disability Issues. The National Forum is being held in Columbus, Ohio and will be live-streamed over the Internet. Many state Disability Organizations are sponsoring webcast events, which will feature a big screen broadcast of the Forum, open to the public. The live stream is also available for viewing on home computers and individuals can sign up at www.nfdi.org. To learn more about the National Forum on Disability Issues, visit this website.

Advocacy Alert! September 30, 2012 - DAWN offers 5 key disability questions to ask of your legislators -

Get Involved! Get Prepared to Vote! Sending a message to your legislator on issues important to you is fundamental to educating legislators on disability issues and making a difference. DAWN offers an easy and direct way to get involved with disability issues in the following article. "The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition created key questions that disability advocates can use to learn more about the positions of federal candidates. 5 Key Questions for Federal Candidates and also includes tips for how to use the questions and helpful background information. The questions can be posted on a candidate’s Facebook page, sent by e-mail, or asked at town hall and other meetings."

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states the "Affordable Health Care Act has significantly improved Medicare's long-term financial outlook"

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."

2012 - Presidential Proclamation, 22nd Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act 2012

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.

Advocacy Alert! August 2012 - The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) article on Daily practicing your democratic rights by participating in voting and speaking to legislators

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.


Advocacy Alert! August 2012 - The American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) has developed a 2012 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire

The questionnaire addresses many of the issues that they believe are the most important to individuals with disabilities, their families and supporters. See the "AAPD/NCIL 2012 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire." "As people with disabilities, we want to live independent lives and contribute our talent and energy to the future success of our great nation." The questions cover Leadership, Reducing Unemployment, Ensuring Employment of People with disabilities in the Federal Workforce, Ensuring appropriate flexibility in public programs to support people with disabilities in the Workforce, Long Term Services and Support, Technology, Education and Voting. Learn about bills and policies that will affect people with disabilities and the communities we live in. "Support candidates that address our interests and our issues." Find out who is running for your representation. Make calls, send e-mails, advocate and lobby for our rights.

May 2012 - Advocates for people with disabilities are protesting the possible cuts to Medicaid

For three decades advocates for people with disabilities have been working toward the right of people to live and work in their community rather than institutions. Recent proposals to change Medicaid is going backward on a community living commitment that will put people back in costly, wasteful institutions. ADAPT has proposed four ways in which Medicaid can be improved thru cost savings to avoid this disastrous reversal and prioritize independence and community living for people with disabilities. See their article at Welcome to ADAPT! > Medicaid Rally > Medicaid_savings which outlines expanding the use of more cost effective community based service, demedicalize services to allow attendants to perform these tasks for seniors and people with disabilities to live in their own homes, and expand consumers to manage their own services reducing the need for administrative costs, and this last one that advocates have been stating for decades, offer services based on functional need, rather than diagnosis and age.

April 2012 - Several disability advocates were arrested April 23rd when protesting possible changes to Medicaid

Disability Scoop.com reported that "The activists — many in wheelchairs — were participating in a demonstration organized by the disability rights group ADAPT. Members of the organization positioned themselves in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building and refused to leave prompting the arrests, according to ADAPT representatives. Members of ADAPT say they are speaking out amid a “dire national Medicaid crisis.” Specifically, the group opposes a Republican plan to cut federal Medicaid funding and favors an elimination of the so-called “institutional bias” whereby states provide nursing care to individuals with disabilities in institutional settings, but often are not required to offer similar assistance in the community. Cutting or changing Medicaid without thoughtful reform has very real life or death consequences for people with disabilities and people who are aging who live on fixed incomes that are significantly below the poverty level,” said Marsha Katz who traveled from Montana to participate in the ADAPT actions. “Washington should be putting our tax dollars into cost-saving community based services, not costly nursing homes and institutions.” For more information, see this article Actor Noah Wyle, Disability Advocates Arrested In DC Protest By Michelle Diament, Disability Scoop, April 23, 2012.

January 2012 - How are the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act helping American citizens with disabilities?

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 Disabilities

From 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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