Congress Leaves Disability Community Priorities Out of Inflation Reduction Act

ASAN is deeply disappointed by the Inflation Reduction Act. While the bill contains some small investments that will tangentially benefit the disability community, almost every disability-related policy from the Build Back Better Act was stripped out. This was not due to lack of heroic grassroots advocacy; the disability community made our voice heard loud and clear for over a year. Ultimately, these cuts were made for political reasons that do not reflect the realities and needs of disabled people and so many other communities. We want to thank each and everyone one of our members who advocated for the inclusion of home- and community-based services in this bill. Even when Congress abandons us, so many of you fight tirelessly for our community’s needs. ASAN, alongside you and the entire disability community, will keep fighting until those needs are met.

The Inflation Reduction Act does include some broader policies that will benefit disabled people. Climate change disproportionately affects people with disabilities, so we are glad to see climate spending remains in the bill. Subsidies for the Affordable Care Act will expand access to health care in very real ways. Drug pricing reform in Medicare is an important first step, and includes critical protections against discrimination for people with disabilities. And while funding for home- and community-based services (HCBS) was not included, more Senators than ever are aware of HCBS and its importance to expanding community living and self-determination. The attention that your advocacy brought to HCBS cannot be understated. HCBS stayed in this bill through months of negotiations, right up until the final days, and that’s because of you.

But clearly, more work has to be done. Our community has needed real investments in community living for decades, and despite overwhelming advocacy, the Senate failed to meet that need. This failure will disproportionately harm disabled people of color, who are more likely to be forced into institutions. Additionally, the bill does not expand Medicaid to provide coverage to people in states without Medicaid Expansion, who still can’t afford to buy insurance. It does not address paid leave or child care, vital to accessing community living when workers and families scramble to fill gaps in care. It fails to address housing shortages that disproportionately impact people with disabilities. It also does not provide fixes to SSI and Medicaid for people with disabilities living in US territories like Puerto Rico. Once again, the policies that our community needs most urgently were left on the cutting room floor. This is unacceptable.

Now more than ever, we must let those who represent us know that there can be nothing about us, without us. If you’re disappointed in your elected officials, now is a good time to let them know. Give them a call or send an email and hold them accountable for the months and years of inaction we’ve faced.

While this is a disappointing setback, our fight is not over. We will keep working alongside you for a world where everyone has what they need to thrive in their community. We’ll have more opportunities in the coming months to fight for community living, freedom from restraint and seclusion, self-determination, and more. Our independence, our health, and our lives are on the line — and we won’t stop until all of us can thrive. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!