ASAN strongly condemns the deep cuts that the President’s proposed budget would make to Medicaid, Social Security, and other critical programs for people with disabilities. The President’s proposal would deprive countless Americans with disabilities of critical health care and community-based supports. It would jeopardize our very lives and result in a massive return to nursing homes and institutions. ASAN calls on Congress to reject these devastating cuts and craft a budget that invests in people with disabilities, our families, and our communities. We have come too far to go back.
The President’s budget would require massive cuts to Medicaid, which acts as a lifeline for countless people with disabilities. Medicaid is not only a critical source of health care coverage but also the main funder for home and community-based services and supports that help us live in the community instead of institutions. But the President’s budget takes the $800 billion in Medicare cuts proposed by the American Health Care Act and adds an extra $610 billion in additional cuts. This will reduce Medicaid funding by more than a trillion dollars over the next 10 years – a change that would cut the program in half.
This budget would eliminate $47 million for research on health care and services for autistic people and our families that was provided via the Autism CARES Act. These services include the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) and Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) programs which train healthcare professionals to work with autistic people. These cuts are in addition to $5.8 billion in cuts to the National Institutes of Health and $35 million in cuts to CDC work related to autism and developmental disability.
The budget would also cut Social Security at the same time that it cuts programs that help us find jobs in the community. It promises $50 billion in cuts to Social Security Disability. The only way to achieve such stark cuts is to kick people with disabilities off the program, through punitive and impossible-to-meet work requirements or other harsh changes which will result in people losing their Social Security. While ASAN has always supported programs to help people with disabilities find employment, these cuts aren’t designed to move people to quality jobs that help them escape poverty. In fact, the budget would also cut all Vocational Rehabilitation funding for state supported employment grants, which are instrumental in helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities get and keep real jobs in the community.
Furthermore, it would punish SSI recipients for living together – including couples and families – by reducing their SSI payments. SSI programs already force people with disabilities to survive on an average of just $18 per day. Further cuts would force SSI recipients to choose between separation and starvation. To make it worse, the President’s budget would also make massive cuts to programs that are critical to people with disabilities living in poverty, including a $193 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps program, over the next ten years; completely eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that helps low-income people pay their heating bills; and a $72 million cut to substance abuse prevention programs.
In addition to cuts to our health care and community-based services, our community would see a $25 million cut to programs to build affordable community-based housing for people with disabilities and a $7.7 billion cut to affordable housing programs overall. These cuts could cause over 250,000 people to lose the housing vouchers. The budget would eliminate the National Housing Trust Fund, which helps people with extremely low incomes escape or avoid homelessness. For thousands of people with disabilities who are already struggling to make ends meet, these cuts will mean homelessness or imprisonment in an institution.
Finally, this budget would cut smaller but vital programs that increase inclusion and independence for people with disabilities and our families. This budget would cut all federal funding for the Special Olympics, would eliminate programs that provide free legal assistance to people with low incomes, and would sharply reduce funding for State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. People with disabilities’ lives have value and are worth investing in. We deserve more than this.
When Congress threatened to cut Medicaid by over $800 billion, we showed up to fight. Congress heard from the disability community in town halls, and through countless phone calls, faxes, and letters. That fight isn’t over–but we can win, and we can beat these cuts too. We call on Congress to reject the President’s attack on the supports we need to live in the community. Our lives are too important to be put on the chopping block.