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

Independent Living & The Rehabilitation Act

President Trump’s Budget Released: Major Cuts To Programs and Services for People With Disabilities

The President released his budget proposal today, and while the $4.1 trillion request is slightly higher than FY 2017 spending levels, it significantly reallocates where the money would go. The budget proposal, entitled “A New Foundation for Greatness,” would put more money into spending on defense, border security, and infrastructure. It would slash nondefense discretionary funding, already historically low, by $54 billion next year and an additional 2% per year through 2028, for an estimated $3.6 trillion in cuts to spending over 10 years.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingKelly Buckland, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) said of the President’s budget: “The President’s budget proposal is irresponsible and would be detrimental to many of the programs and services people with disabilities rely on. The programs that support our health, well-being, and independence have been targeted, with proposed funding for these programs being brought to unrealistic and dangerously low levels. If enacted, hundreds of Centers for Independent Living may be forced to close, and people around the country will die from the cuts to Medicaid. The results of this budget would be disastrous.”

Despite the fact that the President previously promised not to cut Social Security, the proposed budget would make $72 billion in cuts to disability programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Part of those cuts would result from the Administration’s efforts to limit eligibility and ‘encourage’ work. While eliminating disincentives to work is a priority for NCIL, we believe the Administration’s efforts are misguided, operating under the assumption that these programs are rampant with people ‘gaming the system’. In reality, these programs, particularly SSDI, have strict requirements that must be met and rigorous screenings already in place. The proposed budget cuts will largely serve to put vital benefits out of reach for even more people with disabilities.

Moreover, the budget proposal includes huge cuts to Medicaid funding, both from the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and additional cuts to the program. The budget proposes well over $1 trillion in Medicaid cuts (estimates have been as high as over $1.4 trillion) over the decade from a combination of repealing and replacing the ACA and an estimated $610 billion in additional cuts. President Trump’s budget also proposes allowing states to choose between per capita caps or block grants for their Medicaid program for all beneficiaries. The block grants in the President’s budget would make even further cuts than those allowed under the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

The Department of Health and Human Services budget appendix (PDF) also contains some major changes and cuts. As we saw in the leaked budget tables, the budget proposes a $142.4 million decrease in overall funding for the Administration for Community Living (for total funding of $1.85 billion). With regards to the Independent Living Program, the President’s proposal level funds Part C Independent Living funding at $78 million, but it completely changes Part B funding. The budget proposes ‘consolidating’ funding from Part B Independent Living funding ($23 million in the FY 2017 budget), the State Council on Developmental Disabilities ($73 million), and Traumatic Brain Injury funding ($6 million of the $9 million in FY 2017) into one “Partnership for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence.” The funding for this new Partnership line item is $45 million, a $57 million loss from the $102 million combined in funding in FY 2017. The cuts resulting from this consolidation would be detrimental to all three programs. Moreover, these programs each have distinct statutory requirements in different statutes, which not only would make this consolidation injudicious, but also demonstrates a real lack of understanding on the part of the Administration.

On top of all this, the President’s budget proposal would also reduce spending on many other programs that people with disabilities and others rely on, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It would also make major funding cuts for housing, education, research, and much more.

Through this budget proposal, President Trump’s priorities come through clearly. The massive cuts to vital programs – including the Independent Living Program – on top of the cuts to Medicaid, SSDI, and SSI, display a complete ignorance about the needs of the people in this country; especially people with disabilities. That said, the President’s budget proposal is only one step in the federal budget process, and the President’s budget is never the final result. President Trump’s budget does not have the support of Democrats in Congress, and it has gotten mixed feedback from Republicans, with many expressing grave concerns. This proposal shows where our President’s priorities lie, but it is on Congress to develop the funding bills that will determine actual spending levels.

Take Action!

We need to fight now against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program and people with disabilities in FY 2018. We need you to continue talking with your Senators and Representatives. Invite them to visit your Center for Independent Living (CIL) to see the invaluable work being done in their communities. Make sure they know how important the work of your CIL is to you, and let them know how harmful it would be to adopt the proposed ‘consolidation’ in the President’s budget. Also, make sure they know how important the programs our community relies on (like SSDI and Medicaid) are to the disability community. Congress needs to hear from their constituents now more than ever!

President’s Budget Expected to be Released on Tuesday

Now that Congress has funded the remainder of FY 2017, they are ready to get to work on FY 2018 funding (see our May 10 Action Alert). One key step in the federal budget process is the President’s budget request to Congress, which is expected to be released on Tuesday.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingUntil now, all we’ve seen from President Trump is the “skinny budget” (PDF) he released in March, which outlined some of his priorities. There have been rumors about his upcoming budget, and late last week Third Way (a centrist think tank) released a leaked spreadsheet containing President Trump’s proposed budget plan. Among other major cuts, the spreadsheet shows a decrease in funding for the Administration for Community Living (a $142.4 million decrease, for total funding of 1.85 billion). It does not address funding for the Independent Living Program specifically. Please note that we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this leaked document, and if accurate, there is a good chance that changes may be made before it is released on Tuesday.

We know that the President’s skinny budget and other rumored priorities have drawn criticism on both sides of the aisle. We also know that the funding levels the President sets forth will likely not be the final amounts when we see the Congressional appropriations bills. That being said, it has been made clear that Congress hopes to make major cuts, and the President’s proposed budget clues us in to where we may see the biggest decreases.

As a reminder, the Independent Living Program was level funded in the FY 2017 spending bill. Level funding does not meet our needs, but right now our focus must be on fighting against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program in FY 2018.

We ask that you please continue talking with your members of Congress. Please continue trying to get them to visit your CIL to see for themselves the irreplaceable work CILs are doing in their own communities. Cuts to the IL program would be detrimental to CILs and people with disabilities all across the country, and it’s on us to make sure that our Senators and Representatives know how much IL matters to their constituents with disabilities. Now it’s more important than ever that we keep up the pressure!

RTC/IL Resilience Study Examines How People with Disabilities Live Successfully in Rural Areas

Source: University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living, or RTC/IL

Living in a small town can be challenging for anyone. For people with disabilities, rural areas can create even more serious barriers to accomplishing the things they want to do.

However, with the help of a trait known as resilience, many people with disabilities who live in rural areas have achieved a good quality of life and are able to participate in their communities.

“Some people do well in life because they face few obstacles to meeting their goals: they are healthy, they have parents who are well-educated and have the resources to provide their children with a good education, and they have the support they need,” said Jean Ann Summers, research director at the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living, or RTC/IL.

The resilience study – which is still ongoing – didn’t focus on this group of people, though.

“Other people do well in life despite the obstacles that they face,” Summers said.  “They may have grown up poor, they may have a disability, they may live in a community where few jobs or other opportunities are available. And yet they thrive. They are able to achieve their goals and have a satisfying life in the community in spite of the odds that are against them. We say those people are ‘resilient.’”

Summers and her collaborators Dot Nary, assistant research professor at the RTC/IL, and Heather Lassmann, graduate research assistant, set out to identify what Summers calls “the secrets of success” that resilient people with disabilities employ to successfully live in rural communities. Their work is part of larger project based at the University of Montana Research and Training Center on the Ecology of Rural Disability.

“The study is important because if we can find out what people who are naturally resilient do, we can design a program to teach others how to be resilient,” Nary said. Read more at the RTC/IL website.

Get to the Core of It – Best Practices in the CIL Core Services: Information & Referral

CIL-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar:

June 21, 2017; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF)

CIL-NET is happy to announce an encore presentation of one of our most popular webinars. Get to the Core of It: Information & Referral is an essential training for CIL staff responsible for information and referral and consumer intake. Our presenters breathe life into a topic many of us take for granted. Our presenters will provide participants with a philosophical approach to I&R before delving into details about the staff skills and policies needed to run an exemplary I&R program. Our presenters have embraced the idea that I&R is more than just a numbers game – it’s the front door of their Centers and a way to get more people with disabilities involved in the Center and the Movement!

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETRegistration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone or webinar.

Target Audience: Executive directors, I&R specialists, and any staff of Centers for Independent Living who are involved in providing I&R services

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

  • Explain the critical role of I&R as the gateway to providing CIL consumers with information, knowledge, and resources in an efficient and responsive manner
  • Describe strategies to organize, track, and maintain comprehensive and extensive resource information on numerous disability-related topics
  • Describe best practice policies, procedures and staff training that result in highly effective interactions with consumers
  • Describe how to conduct follow up with consumers to determine the effectiveness of their CIL’s I&R service delivery

[Read more…]

Independent Living Level Funded in 2017 – Initiate Contact with Your Senators and Representatives Now to Avoid Future Cuts!

Last Friday President Trump signed the $1.1 trillion spending bill (PDF) that was passed by the House and Senate earlier in the week. The passage of this omnibus spending bill keeps the government funded through the remainder of FY 2017, which ends on September 30, 2017.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingGiven the recommendations from the Administration to make significant cuts, we were surprised to see that many of the programs and departments important to the disability community were level-funded, and some even received small increases. Our main funding focus, the Independent Living Program, received $101,183,000, which includes $22,878,000 in Part B funding and $78,305,000 in Part C funding. This is level funding from FY 2016 spending levels and is actually a very slight increase from the first part of FY 2017 due to the .19% across-the-board cut in the December Continuing Resolution (CR).

In addition to the Independent Living Program, there are several other funding levels to take note of. Several Departments received increases, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): a $2.7 billion increase for a total of $77.7 billion, the Department of Transportation (DOT): a $681 million increase for a total of $19.3 billion, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): a $513 million increase for a total of $38.8 billion. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) received a $1.2 million increase (for a total of $1.9 billion), with the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) being level funded at $104 million and the Assistive Technology Act also being level funding at $32 million; however, $2 million was allocated toward grants for Alternative Financing Programs for assistive technology devices. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) received a $130.6 million increase (for a total of $3.6 billion). While HUD received an increase overall, Section 811 Housing for people with disabilities received a decrease of $4.4 million (for a total of $146.2 million); this was one of only a small number of HUD programs to receive a cut. And other Departments received decreases, including the Department of Labor (DOL): an $83 million decrease for a total of $12.1 billion and the Department of Education (ED): a $1.2 billion decrease for a total $68 billion. However, while funding for ED overall decreased, funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was increased by $90 million (for a total of $12 billion).

Now that the FY 2017 funding is finalized, Congress will begin to turn their attention to FY 2018. As a reminder, all we’ve seen from President Trump is the “skinny budget” (PDF) he released in March, which outlined some of his priorities. While there has been criticism on both sides of the aisle, we know that Congress hopes to make major cuts.

Level funding does not meet our needs, but right now our focus must be on fighting against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program. Please continue talking with your members of Congress. Please continue trying to get them to visit your CIL over the recess. It is on us to make sure that our Senators and Representatives know how important Independent Living is to their constituents with disabilities. Only by hearing directly from their constituents will they understand the vital need for funding and the incredible value of the IL Program!

More Information:

Nominations Sought for Women’s Caucus Hall of Fame Award

The NCIL Women’s Caucus is pleased to announce nominations for the NCIL Women’s Caucus 2017 IL Hall of Fame Award.

Two hands clasp the Women's Caucus Award, which is multi-colored glass shaped like and abstract person. Women's caucus Co-Chair Mary Margaret Moore smiles in the background while presenting the award. We are seeking women who are leaders in our movement, who mentor other women in their community, and who work hard to push forward the rights of women with disabilities.

The Caucus is seeking nominations from now until May 31 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Winners will be announced at NCIL’s Annual Conference in July.

If you know someone who fits the bill, please fill out our nomination form.

In keeping with the theme of the Conference, “Revolution: A Global Independent Living Movement,” we are looking for nominations that include leaders who work to allow the new generation of IL women to lead. We know that the Independent Living Movement began with young leaders and that many young people today are making their mark in the Movement at a younger age. We are looking for nominations about these young women.

We are also hoping to receive nominations that encompass the full NCIL membership. We hope to have inductees into the hall of fame who have a diverse background when it comes to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.

On the first Friday of every month, a group of women who are members of NCIL speak together about important policy issues facing women who have disabilities. We talk about leadership opportunities, mentoring, and most importantly, advocacy strategies. We invite you to join these calls and become part of this work! For more information, contact Sarah Launderville at slaunderville@vcil.org or Mary Margaret Moore at mmmoore@ilcnsca.org.

Spending Deal Reached – Take Action for FY 2018!

Last week President Trump signed the week-long Continuing Resolution (CR) that was passed by Congress to keep the government funded for another week. Early this morning, House and Senate appropriators released the text of an omnibus spending bill (PDF) to fund the rest of FY 2017. Importantly, this bill provides level funding for the Independent Living Program. While we all know this is not enough, we are very happy that no cuts to IL were made at this time.

The next step now is for Congress to start working on FY 2018 appropriations. As a reminder, all we’ve seen from President Trump is the “skinny budget” (PDF) he released in March, which outlined some of his priorities. While there has been criticism on both sides of the aisle, we do know that Congress hopes to make major cuts, many that will hit programs and departments that are important to the disability community. We know that there are a lot of issues facing our community right now, but IL funding is critical, and cuts to the IL program would be detrimental to CILs around the country. We MUST fight against any cuts that will negatively impact the Independent Living Program.

Please continue talking with your members of Congress. Please continue trying to get them to visit your CIL. Keep setting up meetings, calling, emailing, and doing whatever you can to make sure that your Senators and Representatives know how important Independent Living is to their constituents with disabilities. Only by seeing the work that the IL community is doing every day and by hearing directly from their constituents will they understand the vital need for funding and the incredible value of the IL program!

Read NCIL Comments on the Redesigned 704 Report and Submit Your Own by Friday, May 5, 2017!

On March 8, the Independent Living Administration (ILA) released proposed revisions to the Centers for Independent Living Annual Program Performance Review (CIL PPR), which is a redesign of the 704 Part II Report. NCIL has major concerns with this proposal, and we strongly encourage you to review our comments and submit comments of your own.

The creation of the ILA presented an opportunity for some long overdue changes, including an annual reporting process that accurately reflects the impact of CILs. Unfortunately, the PPR proposed by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) is just more of the same. We need to insist that ACL work with the Independent Living community, listen to our decades of experience, and create a PPR that accurately reflects the importance of CILs to people with disabilities and our communities around the country.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingNCIL’s Rehabilitation Act and IL Funding Subcommittee has been working hard on developing comments that convey our concerns. The comments have been finalized and posted online.

We encourage you to use these comments as a draft to submit your own, because it’s important that comments are submitted by members of the Independent Living community across the country! ACL is accepting public comments through Friday May 5, 2017.

Visit ACL’s website to find information including the Notice of Proposed Revisions in the Federal Register, the revised CIL PPR, and information on how to submit your own comments.

Funding Opportunity Announcement: Nursing Home Transition Grants Offered to CILs for Individuals Living with Paralysis

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center’s (PRC) Nursing Home Transition (NHT) Grant Program is partnering with Centers for Independent Living (CILs)* across the country to award four grants up to $40,000 each to transition people living with paralysis in nursing homes back into their homes or a community-based setting of their choice.

The PRC, in partnership with the Administration for Community Living (ACL), has focused on Nursing Home Transition as part of its mission to help seniors and individuals with disabilities live in their homes and fully participate in their communities. The NHT Grant expands on the shared mission of the ACL and the PRC to improve the quality of life for individuals with paralysis and other conditions that result in permanent mobility challenges.

For this grant purpose, the term paralysis includes anyone who sustains difficulty and/or inability to move their arms and/or legs due to a neurological condition such as spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and many other chronic conditions that coexist with developmental, congenital, and acquired disabilities.

* The NHT grant is open to Centers for Independent Living as described in the 2014 reauthorization of the Rehabilitation Act. The term “center for independent living” means a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, nonresidential private nonprofit agency for individuals with significant disabilities (regardless of age or income) that (A) is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities; and (B) provides an array of independent living services, including, at a minimum, independent living core services as defined in section 705(17) as: information and referral, independent living skills training, peer counseling, individual systems and advocacy, and transition/diversion facilitation.

CILs interested in applying for the NHT grant are invited to attend a webinar on Thursday May 4. Participants will learn about the application process and have the opportunity to ask questions. Register for the webinar[Read more…]

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar: SILC Member Recruitment & Orientation

SILC-NET Presents… A National Teleconference & Webinar:

May 25, 2017; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online or by using the printable registration form (PDF)

IL-NET Logo - CIL-NET + SILC-NETRecruiting, orienting, and retaining active and informed SILC members are not easy tasks, but there are proven strategies that can strengthen your approaches to these activities. If you would like to explore some of these strategies, then join us in May to hear from two SILCs that have developed effective processes which result in committed and engaged Council members.

Target Audience

SILC Chairs, Executive Directors, and staff; and any SILC Committee members responsible for recruiting, orienting/training, and supporting SILC members

Registration Fee: $75.00. Fee is per site (connection) and does not apply per participant; registrants are encouraged to gather as many individuals as desired to participate by telephone.  [Read more…]