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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Autism Society & the Ryan Plan

Autism politics has intersected with national budget politics. An email today from the Autism Society:

Yesterday, you received a legislative alert from the Autism Society regarding a U.S. House of Representatives budget bill. That email included language and statements that do not represent the position of the Autism Society or its board of directors. The email was sent out without going through proper review channels and, while I had no prior knowledge of this communication, as CEO Ad Int., I take responsibility for it and apologize for its contents and any implication of a partisan stance. The Autism Society does not make it our practice to engage in any public or private national discussion that implies or suggests a politically motivated or partisan position. Our role must remain non-biased and non-partisan; our position on budget issues is only that we encourage our elected officials to not reduce funding that will negatively impact our constituency.


Scott Badesch
Autism Society
CEO Ad Int.

Here is the email that prompted the retraction:

Federal Spending Plan is Devastating for People with Autism and Will NOT Reduce the Deficit
Tell Your Senator to Vote NO!

The House of Representatives has passed a disastrous budget that pulls the plug on people with autism, individuals with disabilities, seniors, students and the middle class to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. The Senate is planning to vote on this budget this week, and your Senator needs to hear from you!

This budget plan, known as the “Ryan Plan” after its author Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, includes drastic cuts and changes to:

Medicaid: Cuts $750 billion over 10 years and ends Medicaid as a guaranteed benefit by turning it into a “block grant” that leaves cash-strapped states to fill in the funding gaps with very little oversight.

Medicare: Replaces Medicare with a voucher program for younger beneficiaries that will certainly provide less than the current system.

Discretionary Programs: Over time, eliminates most federal government programs outside of health care, Social Security and defense.

Health Care Reform: Repeals and defunds the Affordable Care Act.

The $4.3 trillion from all of these cuts will be used to provide $4.2 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. Very little money will go towards deficit reduction.

What would these changes mean for people with autism?

There would be no guarantee of services. People with autism could be denied:
health insurance coverage
• home and community-based services
• supportive housing
• job training
• education
• transportation
• and much, much more

Worse yet, states could return to the days where they “warehoused” people with autism and other disabilities in institutions to save money. This would be cheaper under the Ryan plan since states would no longer have to meet the quality standards currently imposed by the Medicaid program for institutions. And waiting lists for home and community-based services would grow much longer.

What can you do?

The Senate is set to vote on this budget THIS WEEK. We must let them know that this plan is just plain wrong for America. Please call your Senators this week. Click here to enter your zip code to get their phone numbers. Or go to the U.S. Senate website:

What should you say?

• I am a person with autism or a parent, caregiver or loved one of a person with autism (briefly describe your situation, if you like).
• The Ryan budget plan will take funding from people with autism to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And it does almost nothing to reduce the federal deficit.
• A Medicaid block grant would be devastating for me/my family member.
• Please vote against the Ryan budget plan.


Jeff Sell, Esq.
Vice President, Public Policy & General Counsel
Autism Society