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

Information Alert: NCIL and Partners Tell Appropriations Committees We Oppose Trump Budget!

Logos - Brain Injury Association of America - National Association of State Head Injury Administrators - National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities - National Council on Independent Living

On June 9, 2017, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) sent the following letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees opposing President Trump’s Budget Blueprint.

June 9, 2017

Dear Chairman Blunt, Ranking Member Murray, Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:

On behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), we write to oppose the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 proposal to consolidate and significantly reduce funding for three critical programs in the U.S. states and territories. This proposal includes a $57 million reduction in funds for persons with disabilities by creating a new program called Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence within the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Proposed funding for this new program is $45 million, which is a significant reduction in funds currently appropriated for our separate programs.

Our programs work across the states and territories in an effort to provide community-based supports and services to those with different types of disabilities. However, each of the programs has a unique and distinctly different mission, which would impede the purpose of creating this new program. Attempting to combine programs that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with programs that support people who have substantiated a traumatic brain injury and the cross-disability population will result in a diluted and misguided attempt to put all people under one group and people with disabilities will not be adequately accounted for and served within the states.

Congress has long recognized that there is great diversity within the disability community. Over the years, programs were authorized to address the diverse and unique needs of each population. In 1970, the Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and in 1975, the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agencies were added to the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) to the Act now known as the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) to advocate for and serve the population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 1978, Congress authorized the Independent Living Program and authorized federal funding for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to serve people with all disabilities of all ages. The program was reauthorized in 2014. In addition, the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996, reauthorized in 2014, created and funded the State Grant program for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) located 19 states to develop and expand rehabilitative and community-based services specific to the needs of individuals with TBI.

We firmly believe that the DD Councils are already in their best home along with their two other DD Act partners, the P&As and UCEDDs. DD Councils are currently perfectly positioned to provide critical supports and authentic voices that aid Governors and state legislatures in making their state fully inclusive of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Similarly, the Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) are also well positioned in each state to serve a cross-disability population in line with the independent living philosophy and emphasizing consumer control. Further, the Independent Living Part B funding in question funds far more than the SILCs, contributing to states’ CIL funding, service provision, outreach, and training and technical assistance. Likewise, the State grant programs for those with TBI are active and achieving much success in the 19 states where they exist with their current structure.

We fully recognize that there are times when consolidation of programs makes great sense. The DD Act is one of those consolidation examples of a perfect pairing of organizations and missions that serve one distinct population. In some states, there are times that the SILC, DD Council, and TBI grant program will come together around a common goal. However, these three programs are not designed to function in a consolidated manner and continue to meet the diverse needs of the people they were established to support.

People with all types of disabilities deserve the best we can offer in order to help them live the best life possible – with independence, control over their own lives, and dignity. To that end, we strongly urge you to continue to fund our separate programs and not support the creation of the Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion and Independence as proposed in the President’s FY ’18 budget.

Sincerely,

Donna Meltzer
Chief Executive Officer, NACDD

Susan Vaughn
Director of Public Policy, NASHIA

Kelly Buckland
Executive Director, NCIL

Susan Connors
President/CEO, BIAA

Comments

  1. The Appalachian Independence Center, Inc. located in Virginia and serves Planning District Three request you to oppose these cuts in the Trump 2018 budget proposal. By combining our three programs President Trump is reducing funding to all od these services thereby harming all of them. If this proposal is adopted there will be less funding for all and persons with disabilities will be harmed. Centers for Independent Living will have to lay off employees and persons with disabilities will receive less service and maybe not be served at all. Independent Living Centers have not had an increase in funding for years. The programs have been funded the same every year or funding with less money. CIL’s need a budget increase not a reduction. Do not support the Trump budget.

  2. Dixie Herring says:

    I’m writing because I am concerned about the proposed 57% cuts to people with disabilities. You are proposing the creation of Partnerships for Innovation, Inclusion, and Independence which dilutes what each of the individual councils are designed to do and shows a lack of understanding of how programs would be affected. Combining the above programs will not accomplish savings to the federal budget, and will weaken the programs. There are many more aspects of the programs that will be affected, not just combining of the councils as I will detail below. The PIII proposal reflects a lack of understanding of the three line items involved, each of which has distinct statutory requirements in different statutes. The Independent Living (cross-disability), Developmental Disability, and Traumatic Brain Injury networks have long-standing histories and populations with specific needs. They each are connected to Federal disability laws. Congressional authority is required to change any of these programs.

    Many states, including Colorado, use their Part B money for direct supports and services. In Colorado, 1/3 of Part B money goes to the SILC, and 2/3 is shared between the Independent Living Centers in the state. Cuts to Part B funding would devastate the many Centers for Independent Living that do not receive Part C money. Centers work to transition people from nursing homes back to the community. Studies show savings anywhere from $27,000 to $44,000 per individual per year by receiving services in the community rather than an institution. Cuts will eliminate or reduce services that keep people out of more expensive institutional settings – getting and keeping people out of nursing homes. We provide services that divert people from institutions such as employment, mitigating the social determinants of health, and teaching people to manage their disabilities, understanding and managing benefits – are all services that give back a lot more then they cost. The best way to save taxpayer dollars is to increase funding for the Independent Living Program. By serving consumers in their homes and communities, the Independent Living Program saves states and the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Additionally, Centers for Independence are not targeted for specific disabilities or ages, and we serve any disability, any age – birth to death – unlike aging services or programs that only serve people over the age of 60. We serve the people that no one else does.

    Please take more time to understand the full ramifications of this change and be thoughtful about keeping people independent and included in their communities. This change has the potential to cost more than it saves.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

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