People with disabilities are at grave risk of losing assistance that allows them to not only live more independently, but to participate in the classroom and receive the medical care they need. President Trump’s proposed budget plan, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness” would cut $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), $21 billion from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and $72 billion from Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income over the next ten years. $610 billion would be cut from Medicaid because funding would shift from an entitlement program (in which states receive matching dollars based on need) to a block grant or per-capita program that would place a cap on and limit the amount of federal funding states receive to administer their Medicaid programs.
The federal government currently matches 52.55% of Nebraska’s Medicaid contributions. As of 2011, 42% of federal Medicaid spending went towards assisting people with disabilities. A move towards a block grant would result in no guarantee of Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities and federal matching dollars would not necessarily amount to 52.55% based on individual needs, but instead would be fixed and capped. Similarly, a per capita cap would not address the needs of individuals with disabilities, but would be fixed by the federal government.
Currently, people with disabilities are guaranteed Medicaid coverage. This includes healthcare coverage as well as mental health treatment, speech therapy, physical therapy, assistive technology, medical equipment, specialized transportation, and a number of other services currently available to students who receive special education. These cuts would affect children for the rest of their lives because they were not able to receive services necessary to participate in school. The plan would also affect the 68,451 Nebraskans with disabilities who receive health insurance through Medicaid.
The budget proposal would not only slash Medicaid and other benefits; it would also in effect combine State Councils on Developmental Disabilities with Independent Living programs and Traumatic Brain Injury programs. This would result in significantly reduced funding to each of the programs. The Developmental Disabilities Councils work to implement the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act by ensuring people with developmental disabilities are involved in systems changes to be fully included in all aspects of community life. Moreover, combining these programs could force hundreds of Centers for Independent Living to close. These consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, and nonresidential nonprofits are designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provide much needed services on which many rely.
This budget proposal does nothing to assist people with disabilities live full and inclusive lives. Instead, it would take away healthcare and services necessary for people with disabilities to live.
What can you do? Contact your Senator! Click this link to contact Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/senators_cfm.cfm?State=NE
To download an annotated copy of this article with links, click this link: https://disabilityrightsnebraska-proof-presencehost-net.presencehost.net/file_download/ac00ea28-de21-46d3-a859-9e107a14e316
Brian D. Craig is a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights Nebraska where he represents people with disabilities in cases involving abuse and neglect, rights violations, and disability discrimination. He received his B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law. While in law school, he was a member of the Nebraska Moot Court Board and was elected to the Order of the Barristers. He is a member of the Robert Van Pelt American Inn of Court, the Nebraska Values-Based Education Coalition, and serves as Chair of the Nebraska State Bar Association Public Interest Law Section.