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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

2018 Appropriations Update

Back in September, Congress passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through this Friday, December 8. Last week, Congress passed and the President signed another CR to keep the government funded through Friday, December 22. This gives Congress less than two weeks to reach a longer-term spending deal.

The House and Senate have both already passed their Labor-HHS-Education (L-HHS-Ed) spending bills out of their Appropriations Committees. Both of them level fund the Independent Living Program. You can read more and see the bills in our September alert.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThat said, we know the GOP-led Congress is intent on slashing funding, and we may very likely see changes to the current bills. Regardless, over the next two weeks, Congress has a lot to work through if they’re going to reach a deal. They have to try to align their spending bills with the priorities addressed in their dangerous budget resolution. They’ll also be attempting to overcome several contentious issues, including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a replacement for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), stabilizing the Affordable Care Act markets, and disaster recovery funding. Additionally, they’ll have to decide whether they’ll raise the cap on discretionary funding that’s required under the Budget Control Act of 2011; if they don’t, sequestration will go into effect, resulting in across-the-board cuts. Read more about the history of the Budget Control Act and sequestration in a 2012 NCIL Action Alert. If they can’t find agreement on these issues, we may end up with another short-term CR or a government shutdown.

Appropriations bills are part of an annual process that is critical for keeping our country up and running. But instead of working to figure out how to keep vital programs functioning, the GOP has spent the last few months focusing on their terrible tax bill that will eliminate much-needed funding instead. Their priorities are completely backwards, and we need to work together to ensure that the Independent Living Program and other programs hold on to their funding. We know that there are a lot of issues demanding your attention right now, but please take a moment to call your Senators and your Representative and tell them how important the Independent Living Program is to you. In the current atmosphere we will not see any funding increases, but a cut to Independent Living funding would be disastrous. Members of Congress in both the House and the Senate need to hear from their constituents about what’s really important to the people they represent!

CIL-NET & SILC-NET Present… A National Teleconference & Webinar: Know Your Resources – Orientation to the IL-NET and CIL-NET.org and SILC-NET.org

CIL-NET & SILC-NET Present… A National Teleconference & Webinar:

Know Your Resources – Orientation to the IL-NET and CIL-NET.org and SILC-NET.org

January 10, 2018; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETThe IL-NET program has operated since 1994 to support CILs and SILCs with training and technical assistance on a wide variety of topics. IL-NET’s resources cover an expansive list of topics related to CILs and SILCs, from advocacy to financial management, and everything in between. The sheer quantity of material offered by the program can be overwhelming.

Please join us for this complimentary teleconference and webinar to learn what the IL-NET has to offer you. Staff from each of our partner organizations, ILRU, NCIL, APRIL, and Utah State University’s Center for People with Disabilities will walk you through the trainings and resources they offer and how you can best access them. You will learn about online trainings and materials that you can access right away, as well as training topics for 2018 that you can add to your calendar. Don’t miss this free event!

Registration Fee: This event is free-of-charge.

Target Audience: Staff and Board of CILs, SILCs, and DSEs.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this training, participants will have knowledge and resources that will enable them to:

  • Describe foundational elements of the IL-NET Training and Technical Assistance project, including history, funding, partners, and roles.
  • Describe the basic layout and navigation of the IL-NET pages of the ILRU website for ease in locating information.
  • Identify the wide array of training, resources, programs and services available to CILs, SILCs, DSEs, consumers, and other stakeholders.
  • Describe IL-NET’s national peer-to-peer mentoring program and technical and intensive support opportunities.

Presented by CIL-NET and SILC-NET: Programs of the IL-NET national training and technical assistance project for Centers for Independent Living (CIL-NET) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILC-NET). The IL-NET is operated by ILRU, Independent Living Research Utilization, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), and Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Update: Tax Bill Moves to Conference – Keep Taking Action!

On Monday we sent an alert about the Senate passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. At that point, it was unclear whether the House would approve the Senate’s version of the bill or go to conference to resolve the differences between the two bills. Monday night the House approved a motion to go to conference, and the Senate approved a similar motion last night. Very soon, selected members of the House and Senate will work together to reconcile the differences between their bills.

A NCIL Member holds a sign that reads "Justice Not Just Us" at the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent LivingWhat this means is that where there are differences between the two bills, any provision in either version can be included in the final bill. Problems that were only in the House bill, like the elimination of the medical expense deduction and the credit for businesses to become more accessible, may still end up in the final bill.  And problems that were only in the Senate bill, like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, may also end up in final bill.

But regardless of which of the conflicting provisions end up in the final bill, one certainty remains: as a whole, both of these bills will give huge tax cuts to rich people and corporations while putting the programs people with disabilities need in jeopardy. Both bills would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars being taken from the programs we rely on. This bill is fundamentally flawed, and nothing that can be done in conference can fix it.

That said, going to conference means we still have time to take action! While much of the activity of the conference committee will happen behind closed doors, we will continue to follow the activity and provide updates. Because Congress has other time-sensitive issues to focus on – including passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Friday- we will most likely not see votes on this until next week at the earliest. In the meantime, committee members have some big decisions to make, and they need to hear from their constituents! And, once the conference committee makes their decisions and votes on a final bill, both the House and the Senate will have to vote one more time on the new bill.

Take Action!

As we wrote in our last alert, this is not over yet. It’s critical that we keep the pressure on our members of Congress! Contact your Senators and Representatives and tell them to vote NO on the tax bill! It is important for all members of Congress to be contacted, but it’s especially important if they are conference committee members! The Democratic Senate appointees have not been determined at this point, but all House appointees and Senate Republican appointees can be found below. Things may move quickly, so there’s no time to waste. Call now!  [Read more…]

2017 Outcomes: Showcase Your Independent Living Organization!

Deadline: January 19, 2018

Dear NCIL Members,

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingPlease take just a few moments to send NCIL one or two of your Center, SILC, or other Independent Living organization’s biggest accomplishments of 2017 and a photo that represents you or your work.

We are collecting your outcomes and photos for our upcoming Congressional Briefing and 2017 Annual Report.

Photos and accomplishments from our members made the 2016 Annual Report something really special and we can’t wait to see what you did in 2017!

Please send accomplishments in the form of outcomes.

  • Individual advocacy example: “Anytown Center for Independent Living assisted 42 youth with disabilities to successfully transition from high school to college and / or employment. Those young people are now leaders and role models for younger children with disabilities.”
  • Systems advocacy example: Anytown Center for Independent Living worked with the SILC to develop state legislation to restrict certificates that allow businesses to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage.”

These are only examples; feel free to get creative! Please keep submissions as concise as possible. Submit your accomplishments via email to eleanor@ncil.org by Friday, January 19, 2018.

Thank you!

Tax Bill Passes Senate: Fight Moves Back to the House!

THANK YOU to everyone who has taken action to fight the GOP’s tax bills. In the very early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted to pass their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Every Republican except one voted for the bill, with no Democratic support.

This is bad news, but it’s not over yet. The House now needs to decide whether they will work with the Senate to reconcile the differences between the two bills by going to conference, or they can forego that process and vote on the Senate version – and this can happen as early as today!

A NCIL member holds a sign that reads "People Not Profits" at the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent LivingThe fate of this bill is in our Representatives’ hands. It is vital that they hear from you today! Take Action Now!

  • Find your Representative’s number at Contacting Congress or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Use Resistbot to turn your text into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters.
  • Fax your Representative (use faxzero.com to find their fax number).
  • Email, post on Facebook, or Tweet your Representative with information on Contacting Congress.

Tell them:

  • Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate will significantly increase premiums and 13 million fewer people will have insurance.
  • Increasing the deficit by over $1 trillion sets the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs disabled people rely on.
  • By triggering the “Pay-As-You-Go” (PAYGO) Budget Rule, this bill will automatically force billions in cuts – and in some cases, total elimination – to essential programs including Medicare and Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants.

Everyone should call their Representatives today, but there some Representatives that have been identified as high priority targets. If you live in these states, or if you know people who do, please make sure they are contacted!  [Read more…]

Keep Fighting the Tax Bill and Participate in Today’s National Call-In Day!

The Senate is getting closer to passing their dangerous tax bill, with a vote expected as early as Thursday. We have a very short window to stop this bill from passing, so immediate action is critical!

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

  • Participate in the National CallIn Day! Wednesday, November 29 is a national disability community call-in day. You can find more information at the Facebook event. Please participate in the event and share it with your networks!
  • Keep calling your Senators! Keep calling your Senators DAILY until they commit to voting no on the tax bill! You can find your Senators’ numbers at Contacting Congress or you can reach them by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY).
  • Other ways to contact your Senators: Use Resistbot to have your texts turned into faxes, mail, or hand-delivered letters. Fax your Senator (use faxzero.com to find your Senator’s fax number). And find your Senator’s email address, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and other information through Contacting Congress.
  • Get others involved! Educate your family and friends about why this tax bill is so harmful to disabled people. Share the National Call-In Day’s Facebook event, and post information on social media using the hashtag #TaxOnDisability.

This bill would be devastating to people with disabilities. It would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would result in significant premium increases and 13 million fewer people having insurance. It would cause a massive $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit, which would set the stage for slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs. Additionally, the increase to the deficit would trigger the “Pay-As-You-Go” Budget Rule (PAYGO), which would automatically force billions of dollars in cuts to essential mandatory programs, including $25 billion in cuts to Medicare and the potential elimination of Vocational Rehabilitation basic State grants. This bill would harm our community in countless ways, with hundreds of billions of dollars being snatched away from programs we need and handed over to the people who need it the least. Read about our additional concerns with the House version. For additional information, see our two previous alerts:

Right now, one thing is for sure: Congress plans to provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of everyone else, and disabled people will be hit hard. If this bill passes, the rich will become richer, and we’ll foot the bill. The Senate’s tax bill is an attack on the disability community, and it’s on us to stop it! Take action!

Accessibility Remains a Challenge for Voters with Disabilities

Over the past two years, the media and the country have taken note of the disability community’s massive political interest and power. In 2016, the #CripTheVote and #RevUp campaigns created spaces for the disability community to rally as a voting bloc. More recently, ADAPT made headlines nationwide for their summer protests of repeal bills for the Affordable Care Act. Now that 2017 and its local and state elections are over, all eyes are looking toward 2018 midterms and how the disability community will impact those elections. However, the bigger question is: what still needs to be fixed before 2018 to ensure that people with disabilities have the same access to the vote as non-disabled voters?

VOTE Emblem features the universal sybol of accessibility holding a paper with Choice check marked and Option uncheckedUnfortunately, voting access hasn’t grown as the same rate as recognition of voters with disabilities. Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released their survey of polling places during the 2016 election. This survey found that of the polling places they studied, 60 percent of polling places had barriers outside the polling place that could impede a disabled voter’s access to the vote. Inside, 65 percent of the polling places they surveyed had at least one impediment to casting a ballot for people with disabilities. Despite laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that mandate accessibility for polling places, compliance with these laws and voting access in general still has a long way to go to achieve true accessibility. Sadly, this statistic isn’t surprising, as a study performed at Rutgers University in 2012 found that during the presidential election, over 30 percent of voters with disabilities surveyed encountered at least one difficulty in casting their ballot, while only 8.4 percent of voters without disabilities encountered difficulty. There is still a massive disparity in voting access for people with disabilities.  [Read more…]

NCIL Medicaid Buy-In Task Force Seeks Personal Stories from Beneficiaries

The Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) Task Force of the NCIL Employment Subcommittee has been working for more than a year on two policy proposals that would remove work disincentives for people with disabilities of retirement age or older. We have already had meetings with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Congressional staff, and we are looking for your help to move these proposals forward.

We need the NCIL membership to help identify individuals who fit in either of these two situations / scenarios:

  1. Childhood Disability Beneficiaries (CDB) who are past or reaching full retirement age – within a year or two. We want to change SSA rules so that a CDB would have the same work rules (lack of earning restriction) that all SSA retirees have at full age of retirement. As the rules stand now, they have to continue with SSDI work rules even past age of full retirement.
  2. Beneficiaries using the Medicaid-Buy-In who are approaching or passed age 65. We are proposing a change to Ticket to Work legislation to remove the current age limit (65), or at least make it full age of retirement.

Upon identifying these individuals, we are hoping to cultivate personal stories to be provided to elected officials, SSA staff, etc. to help bolster our policy ideas and arguments. Because we have some great momentum on our policy ideas, the value of these stories cannot be overstated and will play a critical role in continuing to move these ideas forward.

Please contact the Employment Subcommittee Co-Chairs, Sam Liss (sliss_980@comcast.net) or James Turner (jturner@lincidaho.org).

NDLA Urges Congress to Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Coalition Calls for Disability Support of Pro-Immigrant Policy and Programs

NDLA Logo - National Disability Leadership Alliance - Nothing About Us Without UsThe National Disability Leadership Alliance, of which NCIL is a proud member organization, calls on the United States Congress to develop and pass into law the DREAM Act, legislation that would restore protections and services under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA Program gives around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children the opportunity to work and study in this country without the threat of deportation. Recipients of DACA have registered with the United States, submitted to deep background checks, and are engaging with their communities.

DACA is critical for immigrants with disabilities. Some immigrants with disabilities are in the United States in order to receive disability related supports and care that are not available in their country of origin. Without the program, DACA recipients who are disabled immigrants face the threat of medical deportation. Also, some DACA recipients are home care workers or personal assistants, providing critical support for people with disabilities. Without that support, people with disabilities would lose their link to live in their own homes instead of institutions. Read more at disabilityleadership.org.

EIN SOF Recruiting Electronics Users with Disabilities for Focus Groups in San Francisco and DC

EIN SOF is recruiting electronics users with disabilities for eight disability-specific focus groups in:

  • San Francisco, CA – Sunday, December 3 (1:00-8:00 p.m.) and Monday, December 4 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)
  • Washington, DC – Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7 (2:00-9:00 p.m.)

If you or someone you know might be interested in being considered and is available on the above dates, please email Tari Hartman Squire at Tarish@mac.com with the Subject Line: “SF Focus Group” or “DC Focus Group”.

Specifically, they are looking for electronics users with disabilities in the following categories:

  • Deaf
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Blind
  • Low Vision
  • Mobility Disability
  • Limited Dexterity
  • Autistic
  • Parent of Child with Autism