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ASAN Condemns President’s Budget Request

Statement

ASAN condemns the President’s Budget Request, which once again calls for deep cuts to programs such as Medicaid, Social Security, and housing supports that help disabled people live our lives in our communities. We have seen the Trump administration propose similar sets of cuts in their budget year after year, in blatant disregard for the lives of people with disabilities, low-income Americans, and a disproportionate amount of people of color who would be critically endangered by these actions. ASAN has fought these cuts before, and will continue to fight as long as we need to in order to ensure everyone can access the supports we need to survive. We call on Congress to reject these proposals and put forward a budget that is consistent with the values of the disability rights movement.

Analysis

The President’s budget takes aim at three areas integral to the livelihoods of Americans with disabilities: healthcare, education and employment, and income supports (such as through Social Security and housing programs). At its core, the budget aims to slash funding for social services while imposing work requirements, which will take crucial supports away from people with disabilities who use these services to survive. We know from experience that work requirements don’t work: they force people with disabilities to jump through bureaucratic hoops that we cannot navigate, and ultimately kick eligible people off of the lifesaving supports that we need. Here is a detailed breakdown on how the President’s budget would impact Americans with disabilities:

Health and Human Services:

  • It would cut over $777 billion from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act by replacing this funding with block grants and per-capita caps. It also proposes legislation similar to the Graham-Cassidy bill, which would stop protections for people with pre-existing conditions and eliminate the most affordable plans under the ACA. Under this plan, up to 20 million people could lose their health insurance.
  • It would impose work requirements for Medicaid throughout the United States. We have already seen the disastrous consequences of this policy in Arkansas, where more than 1 in 5 people subject to the policy lost their health care coverage.
  • It would let states charge copayments for the lowest-income Americans who use Medicaid, creating a new barrier to accessing care. It would also expand the use of prior authorization in Medicare, which makes it harder for disabled people to get the things we need.

In addition to these egregious cuts from Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, many other programs which support community integration for people with disabilities would be deeply cut or eliminated:

  • Over $81 million would be cut from disability services and programming at the Administration for Community Living, which works to make sure we are included in all aspects of society:
  • 26% of the budget for State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (DD Councils) would be cut. DD Councils are a major way that the voices of self-advocates are included in state policy discussions about our lives.
  • Funding would be cut from other crucial programs established through the Developmental Disabilities Act, including Protection and Advocacy agencies and University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. The Centers for Independent Living would also see their funding cut.
  • Funding for Projects of National Significance would be almost entirely eliminated (over 90% in cuts), along with a 17.5% cut in funding to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). These projects fund research that helps disabled people live in the community.
  • Over a quarter of funding would be cut from initiatives to improve voting access for people with disabilities, making it more difficult for us to engage in the electoral process.
  • The budget eliminates all funding for autism and developmental disability from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which funds the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) programs, improving access to health care services and information for people with I/DD and their families. It would also cut all HRSA funding for diversity training for healthcare workers, negatively  impacting how people with disabilities are treated in medical settings.

In total, over 12% of funding would be cut from the Department of Health and Human Services in comparison to previous years.

Education and Labor:

  • It would cut $11 million, or nearly a third, out of the budget for the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the Department of Labor.
  • It would create a new tax credit of $50 billion over ten years to support “school choice”. This would allow individuals to get tax deductions when they donate to scholarship funds that exclude people with disabilities and other marginalized groups. In addition, it would provide $60 million more funding for charter schools. The Department of Education has chosen to prioritize funding these initiatives, which disregard people with disabilities, instead of fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • It would provide $100 million for the STOP School Violence Act, which includes funding to place more police officers in schools, and create “threat assessments” and anonymous tip lines to identify students “at risk” of violent behavior. We know that these initiatives marginalize students of color and students with disabilities, and do not belong in our schools.
  • It would cut all federal funding for the Special Olympics, which promotes community engagement among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • It would eliminate state supported employment grants for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • It would cut Student Support Services (TRIO) programs by 93 percent, which help students of color, low-income students, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities access and succeed in higher education.

Overall, the Department of Education would lose 12% of its funding, while the Department of Labor would see a 9.7% funding decrease.

Social Security, Housing, and Food Support:

  • It would cut Social Security Disability by $84 billion, and cap retroactive benefits at 6 months instead of 12.
  • It would punish families with more than one disabled family member by imposing a “sliding scale” for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for multi-recipient families.
  • It would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by one-third ($220 billion) over 10 years, as well as adding work requirements to the program, which would lead to approximately 755,000 people losing SNAP. It would also deliver some SNAP benefits in the form of set food boxes, which do not account for allergies, dietary restrictions, or other nutrition needs of families.
  • The budget would also cut 1.7 billion from children’s nutrition programs, including school lunch programs. For many children living in poverty, their school lunch may be their only meal of the day. It also eliminates the Community Development Block Grant, which provides federal funding for Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to low-income seniors to help them get enough to eat and stay in their homes.
  • It would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, the Social Services Block Grant, and the Community Development Block Grant, all of which support anti-poverty and social services for low-income people.

Housing programs are especially targeted by the President’s budget proposal:

  • It would cut Section 811 housing, which helps people with disabilities access housing that works for us, by 16.4 percent.
  • It would eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that helps low-income people, including people with disabilities, pay their heating bills.
  • It eliminates the National Housing Trust Fund and Public Housing Capital Fund, which build, maintain, and improve accessible and affordable public housing. It also makes a 38 percent cut to the Public Housing Operating Fund, which is used to fund the basic operations of public housing.
  • It would implement work requirements for public housing programs, while simultaneously raising rents on public housing. This will make it much more difficult for low-income Americans to sustain housing and employment, and these rent increases could triple the housing costs of elderly people and people with disabilities.

These measures cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development by a staggering 16.4%.

Conclusion

Making drastic cuts to programs that support the well-being of people across the country will not achieve a “Better America.” There are so many ways federal funding could be used to help people with disabilities in the United States: we could help people access home and community-based services and eliminate the waiting lists; we could fully fund IDEA; we could create customized job programs to help more people gain employment. But instead of prioritizing and bolstering the programs we know help Americans succeed, this budget proposal shirks that responsibility in order to fund tax breaks for the wealthiest individuals and corporations, while providing even more funding to programs like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that infringe upon our civil liberties. We urge Congress to reject each and every one of these proposals and move forward with a budget that takes us forward, not backward.

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