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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Disability Community v. Tax Bill

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network:
ASAN strongly condemns the final passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), a tax giveaway for corporations and the wealthiest Americans which comes at great cost to the disability community. This law will take away health care from an estimated 13 million people. By drastically reducing tax revenue, it sets the stage for massive cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, and other essential services that allow people with disabilities to live good lives in our communities. The disability community cannot afford these cuts. For those who will lose access to lifesaving care and basic services, the price of this law is far too high.
Ignoring the clear will of the American people, the final version of TCJA repeals the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has helped to make insurance more affordable, especially for people with disabilities. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 13 million people will lose access to affordable coverage as a result. Nonetheless, despite the loss of the individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act itself remains the law of the land. ASAN will fight to mitigate the impact of this decision, and will continue to work to implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that people with disabilities, our families, and all people have access to comprehensive and affordable health care.
Both the Administration and Congressional leadership have stated repeatedly in recent weeks that, to pay for these tax breaks, they will once again move to cut basic programs and services. The disability community is facing a full-scale attack. Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security will all be on the chopping block – but this battle is far from over. We call on the disability community to mobilize for the fight for our lives.
The Autism Society:
Bethesda, Maryland. December 20, 2017 — Today, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a massive tax bill that will have a long-lasting impact on our debt, health care, and long-term services and supports for people with disabilities. The non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the deficit in its first decade. In addition, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will result in 13 million fewer people being covered by health care and will raise premiums by about ten percent. The President has said he will sign the bill.
Unfortunately, this could be just the beginning. The Autism Society is extremely concerned the Congress will next turn to making massive cuts to safety net programs that are critical to individuals with autism and other disabilities and the families that support them: Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Income, Disability Insurance, and other supports. The budget resolutions considered earlier by the House and Senate directs committees with jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to make cuts in the billions to those programs. It is difficult to imagine how these cuts can be realized without making fundamental alterations and life-threatening cuts to these critical programs.
There are other threats, too, for the disability community, particularly attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws, important guidance and regulations that support people in the community, as well as cuts to other discretionary programs that will impact research, early intervention, education, and employment services that assist people with disabilities to be productive and independent.
The Autism Society will be vigilantly watching and advocating for the protection of the rights and programs that support people with disabilities. We will galvanize our strong grassroots network of individuals with autism, families, and allies to make our voices heard and keep policymakers accountable.
The Arc:
“Today both chambers of Congress rushed to pass an irresponsible tax plan. By reducing revenue by at least $1.5 trillion, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increases the pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs that are critical to the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each vote in favor of this bill was a vote against constituents with disabilities and sets the wheels in motion to quite possibly go back in time to an era when people with disabilities had little opportunity to live a life of their choosing, in the community.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was crafted behind closed doors and the final draft of this bill was only released publicly on Friday. The rush by the Senate to pass this bill mere hours after the House of Representatives vote makes it clear that the architects of this bill were trying to hide something from the American public.
“This year the disability rights community has endured ongoing Congressional attacks that could have jeopardized the health and well-being of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. And now, thanks to the enormous revenue losses that will be created by this bill, we must prepare to protect critical programs like Medicaid which will likely be on the chopping block in 2018. We are grateful to the Members of Congress who stood up for their constituents with disabilities by opposing this bill and we look to them as our greatest allies as our fight continues. While this bill must return to the House of Representatives once more, it is expected to be signed into law. Passage of this bill will not change the resolve of The Arc’s network. As we have shown time and time again, we are a force to be reckoned with. We will remain active in our opposition to attacks on the basic rights and health of people with disabilities and their families,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:
 The Fiscal Policy Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the nation's largest national organization representing over 56 million individuals with disabilities, is deeply disappointed by the House and Senate passage of the conference agreement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
This legislation will result in 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance and will cut Federal revenue to such an extent that it will likely lead to huge cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and other programs people with disabilities rely on to live independently in the community.
“The President and Congressional leaders have said they would protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security when they were campaigning for office. We will hold them accountable for those statements,” said Kim Musheno, Chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.
“The public will soon have time to fully understand the impact of this legislation that has been rushed through Congress and whether its many promised benefits ever materialize.”