the advocacy monitor

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

NCIL Submits FOIA Request to ACL on Independent Living Cuts

Over the past several years, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) has made several funding cuts to Centers for Independent Living (CILs) around the country. NCIL has concerns about both the legality of these cuts and how they were determined.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingAfter unsuccessful attempts to get a satisfactory explanation about why and how these cuts were made, NCIL has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for copies of all records pertaining to ACL’s Independent Living allotment determinations since 2015.

NCIL will continue to keep you updated as this situation progresses.

Death and Taxes: Dangerous Tax Reform Bill Introduced – Take Action Now!

Last week House Republicans unveiled their tax reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PDF). Their bill makes major changes to the U.S. Tax Code, giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy while ultimately harming the rest of the country. Not only will the tax bill directly harm disabled and poor people, but it will also increase the national deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, setting the stage for major cuts to Medicaid and other essential programs that will bring even more harm to our community.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingTake Action Now!

Congress is trying to use the same fast-track process they tried to use on healthcare, and we must stop this bill before it gets to the Senate! If this tax plan becomes law, wealthy people and corporations will become richer, while people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized communities foot the bill. We must stop this! Call your Representatives by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or (202) 224-3091 (TTY) today! See below for more details about the bill.

Background: While the tax bill is full of permanent tax cuts that will benefit wealthy people and corporations, everyone else will see little or no benefit. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the bill would raise taxes for nearly 13 million people earning less than $100,000 a year. There is no doubt that disabled and low-income individuals will be harmed by this bill.  [Read more…]

An Update from the NCIL Mental Health Subcommittee

Lots of things have been happening around mental health. We fought back attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with partners in ADAPT and others, but the danger still exists. The House and Senate have passed a budget that threatens to devastate mental health services through major cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and other vital programs and services. We still need to make our elected representatives aware of the impact of these cuts and how they will affect people.

Recently:

  • Approximately 38 states have actually combined the Departments of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures about 40% of American children, has not been reauthorized. This ongoing failure will affect mental health and overall health for the nation’s vulnerable children.
  • The President has declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. This is different than a national emergency, which would include additional funds. This is a complex issue, and we are continuing to follow the national discussion. We encourage you to read last year’s NCIL Statement on Opioids, Chronic Pain, and the Pharmaceutical Industry. In response to the opioid epidemic, there have been calls to change the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which prohibits federal payments for mental health or substance use treatment for facilities with 16 or more beds treating primarily people with psychiatric diagnoses. IMDs are mostly hospitals and nursing facilities, and NCIL has previously opposed changing the IMD exclusion, which would increase institutionalization.

The Mental Health Subcommittee supports as a starting point continuing bipartisan efforts on the Affordable Care Act and we will continue to monitor the proposed Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization bill in the Senate. Most importantly, we strongly support the Disability Integration Act, H.R. 2472 and S. 910 – sponsored by Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).  [Read more…]

Information Alert: The FY 2018 Federal Budget

Congress has finished a budget resolution and it sets the stage for tax cuts, an increased deficit, and includes dangerous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs critical to our independence.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingThe House plans to introduce a tax reform (cuts) bill this week as well and to send it to the Senate by Thanksgiving. Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. The budget resolution will increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion, and it assumes over $5 trillion in cuts to services over the next decade. With numbers like these, no programs are safe. Congress has shown us time and again that they are intent on slashing Medicaid, and unsurprisingly, their tax plan will provide them with the opportunity to do just that. The Senate budget calls for trillions of dollars in cuts to mandatory programs (which includes programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security). Much of the remainder will come from non-defense discretionary funding, which includes other programs we rely on like the Independent Living Program, housing assistance, and education. If this tax plan becomes law, people with disabilities, poor people, and other marginalized communities will be significantly harmed, while wealthy people and corporations reap the benefits.

We must be prepared to react – and to react quickly! Start preparing NOW. Gather stories demonstrating the value of CIL services. Gather data on the value of CIL services – the number of people diverted and transitioned from institutionalization – and the savings to your state because of these critical programs.

Invite Senators and Congressional Representatives to visit your CIL to see what you do.  [Read more…]

Deadline Extended: NCIL Invites You to Participate in a National Survey about Accessible Parking and Placard Abuse

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) invites you to participate in an online survey for people who require accessible parking, or have disabled placard or license plates. The survey takes about 15 minutes and will have a major effect on policies related to parking for people with disabilities. The deadline to complete this important survey has been extended to November 8.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingHave you faced challenges when it comes to finding available parking? Have you been frustrated by parking spaces that are designated for people with disabilities but are used by those who don’t need them? What other parking problems do you encounter?

Here is your chance to share your experiences, insights, and challenges. NCIL is part of a newly-formed Accessible Parking Council to address these issues on a national scale.

If you require accessible parking and have a disabled placard or license plate, please take this 15-minute online survey on Accessible Parking and Placard Abuse to ensure your voice is heard.  [Read more…]

2017 Dole Leadership Prize Awarded to Senator Tom Harkin

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced that it will honor retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin as the recipient of the 2017 Dole Leadership Prize.

Harkin received the award at a public program on Oct. 29 at the Dole Institute. The program can now be viewed online. The Senator spoke at length about the ADA and the role of people with disabilities and their ongoing advocacy.

“Senator Harkin shares Senator Dole’s belief in bipartisanship, civil discourse and respect for the other side,” Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy said. “We look forward to honoring his long service to our country.”

“I am honored and humbled to join the list of renowned public servants to receive this recognition,” Harkin said. “Senator Dole and I share a commitment to promoting civic engagement, civil discourse and cooperation. This was prevalent during our shared time in the U.S. Senate, particularly in our work on behalf of people with disabilities, and continues to guide our work even today.”  [Read more…]

It’s Time To Check On Your Health Insurance! Open Enrollment Began November 1, 2017

This is an important time to take a close look at your health care needs and options. If you’re uninsured or looking for more affordable health insurance, the “open enrollment” period is the time to visit healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace or health insurance exchange. During “open enrollment”, private health insurance options can be reviewed and coverage can be purchased. People with low and moderate incomes may be able to get financial help to pay for health insurance coverage. Assistance to pay for premiums and other cost-sharing may be available for individuals and families, depending on which plan is purchased. If you get health insurance through your employer, Medicaid or Medicare, you are not eligible for this assistance.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has developed a fact sheet on open enrollment (PDF) to use in promoting the open enrollment. Open enrollment begins on November 1, 2017.

  • November 1, 2017: Open enrollment begins
  • December 15, 2017: Open enrollment ends
  • January 1, 2018: Coverage begins

It’s Getting Closer… One Month until Giving Tuesday!

It’s the end of October, the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, and we’re gearing up for Giving Tuesday! Giving Tuesday is focused on giving back after the consumer driven days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and takes place on November 28th, 2017.

Giving Tuesday logo - #GivingTuesday with a heart icon replacing the ‘v’Here are some exciting updates from our Giving Tuesday preparations:

  1. We’ve been approved for Facebook fundraising! Now it’s even easier to raise funds for NCIL or donate directly through Facebook. And on Giving Tuesday ONLY, all fees from Facebook fundraising will be waived, so 100% of your donation goes to NCIL. In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is partnering with Facebook to match up to $1,000 per fundraiser or $50,000 per organization on Giving Tuesday until the match funds run out – so start your giving early!
  2. We’ve got an all-star matching team! Most organizations have one company or corporation that matches donations on Giving Tuesday. But since NCIL’s power is grassroots, so is our fundraising. We have a dedicated team of NCIL fans who have agreed to match $250 each on Giving Tuesday, for a total match of up to $1,750. That means your impact can be DOUBLED for one day only!

In the coming weeks, you’ll get to meet our matching team, learn about different ways to give to NCIL, and show off your NCIL pride on your social media! Let’s kick off the giving season right!

NCIL and ADAPT Announce the National Organizing Project

The National Council on Independent Living and ADAPT are proud to announce the National Organizing Project, a new effort to advance direct action in support of disability rights and community living.

NCIL logo - National Council on Independent LivingMade possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, the National Organizing Project creates a formal partnership between NCIL and ADAPT to support ADAPT chapters, promote direct action, and analyze and create policy to support people with disabilities. NCIL and ADAPT have a long history of cooperation that was strengthened during the #summerofADAPT, where ADAPT and NCIL worked together to advocate against healthcare reforms that would have had a devastating impact on people with disabilities.

The National Organizing Project will continue these advocacy efforts in four key areas:

  • Support for emerging ADAPT chapters
  • A train-the-trainer program to train new and emerging ADAPT chapters in non-violent civil disobedience
  • Completion of the ADAPT “Piss on Pity” documentary
  • A full time Community Living Advocate, based at NCIL’s office in Washington, DC, that will educate legislators on the benefits of community living and provide up-to-the-minute policy analysis for both organizations

NCIL is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of organizations and individuals including: individuals with disabilities, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.  [Read more…]

Open Position: Community Living Advocate, National Council on Independent Living (Washington, DC)

Position Summary: Responsible for tracking and analyzing current policy and political trends that impact people with disabilities, with a focus on community living and home and community based services (HCBS). The Community Living Advocate will communicate these trends and their impact to key stakeholders, including leadership of NCIL, ADAPT, and other organizations as necessary. The Community Living Advocate will also meet with government officials to explain the detrimental effects of unwanted institutionalization and advocate for policies that empower people with disabilities. This position is part of the National Organizing Project, a partnership between NCIL and ADAPT, funded by the Ford Foundation.
[Read more…]