The proposals that Congress are considering significantly reduce our nation’s revenue over the next decade. According to the latest report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the recently passed Senate bill will add $1 trillion to our country’s deficit even with growth in the economy. These reductions in federal spending will impact individuals with disabilities by reducing spending towards Medicaid.

Please contact your U.S. Congressman today and share why you oppose these provisions in the proposed tax reform bill. 

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Major Recent Events

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House Committee Passes Tax Bill On November 9, the House Ways and Means Committee voted along partisan lines to advance H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Arc opposes this bill because it would reduce revenue by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs. In addition, The Arc opposes the measure’s disproportionate benefit to wealthy individuals and corporations and its repeal of expenditures that benefit people with disabilities – the medical and dental expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit. The bill also modifies Section 529 education savings accounts to cover elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year and removes income limits. Such a change would allow for wealthy individuals to receive a tax benefit for sending their child to private schools, which are not required to accept or provide a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (read more here). Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and click here to read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Fiscal Policy Task Force on the bill’s advancement. Budget & Appropriations – Senate Committee Releases Tax Bill Description The Senate Finance Committee released a description of its tax bill shortly after the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own bill on November 9. While The Arc is pleased to see that the Senate bill does not repeal the medical expense deduction that assists approximately 9 million Americans with high medical expenses to meet their needs, The Arc opposes the bill. The measure would substantially reduce revenue, paving the way for huge cuts in the programs people with disabilities rely on, and disproportionately benefits upper income earner and corporations. Click here to see a comparison between the House and Senate tax bills. See our shared principles for tax reform. Education/Tax Policy – Public Funds for Public Schools Act Introduced On November 7, Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) introduced the Public Funds for Public Schools Act of 2017 (H.R. 4269). This bill addresses a problem that currently exists with tuition tax credits (TTCs) in select states. In 18 states, the TTCs are available to individuals who contribute to scholarship granting organizations or school voucher nonprofits. In 7 of these states (AL, AZ, FL, GA, MT, NV, and SC,) this tax credit is dollar for dollar. This means that in addition to receiving a full refund from their state, upper-income donors qualify for a federal tax deduction on the same donation, which allows them to turn a profit on their contributions. Each year, wealthy donors use TTCs to divert an estimated $1 billion in taxpayer funding to private and often unaccountable schools. The Arc supports this legislation as it disallows profiteering from donations to support private schools, which are not obligated to adhere to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Autism – Wandering Bill Reintroduced Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Mike Doyle (D-PA) reintroduced Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4221) on November 2. This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes an existing federal program that assists in locating persons with dementia who wander from safe environments and expands the program to include new support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It allows Justice Department grants to be used to develop training and emergency protocols, supply first responders with additional information and resources, and make local tracking technology programs available for individuals who may wander because of their condition. According to recent data, 27% of children with ASD, intellectual disability, and/or developmental delay are reported to wander from safe settings each year. In 2016, the House and the Senate both approved Kevin and Avonte’s Law. However, last minute changes attempting to address concerns over privacy and cost offsets required the legislation to return to the Senate. The Congress ended before another vote was held. The Arc supports this legislation and appreciates that the problematic provisions are not included in the new bill. Major Events Ahead Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House Expected to Vote on its Tax Bill, Senate Committee to Mark Up its Bill The full House is expected to vote on its bill Wednesday or Thursday of this week. The Senate Finance Committee begins mark-up on its bill today. Announcements Health Care – Health Insurance Open Enrollment Continues Through December 15 Now is the time for individuals who are uninsured or are looking for affordable health insurance to investigate the private health insurance plans available through state marketplaces (to find state information visit the health care website). During open enrollment a person can purchase private health insurance through the marketplace in each state. There may also be financial assistance to help with health care costs available for people with low and moderate incomes. It is also important for people who currently have insurance through the marketplace to look at the plan to determine if it will continue to meet their needs. Individuals who do not take action will be automatically re-enrolled in the current plan. Re-enrollment is also an important opportunity for people to report any changes in income. To learn more, read The Arc’s blog post. Open enrollment ends on December 15, 2017. Social Security – Free Webinar: Why a Congressional Proposal to Stop SSI Benefits for People with Outstanding Warrants is so Harmful Join the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force and Justice in Aging for a free webinar on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The webinar will review proposed Congressional legislation to revive a disastrous old policy to prohibit the payment of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to people who are the subject of an arrest warrant for an alleged felony or an alleged violation of probation or parole. Learn about the proposal, who it would harm, and why it is bad policy. The webinar will feature introductory remarks by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and presentations by Dara Baldwin, National Disability Rights Network; Tracey Gronniger, Justice in Aging; and T.J. Sutcliffe, The Arc. Real-time captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. This webinar is free, but registration is required. Click here to register. Miscellaneous – Kennedy Foundation Accepting Applications for Fellowship Program The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 2018 Public Policy Fellowship Program. Each year the Foundation brings professionals, family members, and persons experiencing disability to Washington, D.C. for a one-year, full-time, intensive immersion experience. Throughout their time in The District, fellows actively participate in public policy development in the offices of a Member of Congress, Congressional committee, or federal agency. This experience is a unique chance to understand the intersection of public policy, disability advocacy, and the political process. Please see the full announcement for more details. Applications will be accepted until December 15. Please call your local district offices regarding disability rights.  You can look them up here. Do You Know?   PA CONNECTING COMMUNITIES provides the following services through the Office of Developmental ProgramTransitional Services W1424 1:1 Services directed towards supporting individuals in transition to integrate, completive employment through work. PA Connecting Communities Transition services can be thought of bridging the gap between school programs and the opportunities of adult life, including higher education or training, employment, independent living and community participation.Supportive Employment Services W7235 1:1 There are 2 components:1)   Job Support: Some functions of job support include training of individuals in job assignments, periodic follow-up or ongoing support. Other activities include support to relearn a job, training to assist individuals to use transportation for work, maintenance of appropriate work behavior on the job.2)   Job Finding: Development of skills, outreach to potential employers, training of job tasks and other such tasks to assist individual in acquiring a job Some functions of job finding include interview assistance, employer outreach and orientation, resume preparation, job skill development.Home and Community Habilitation Services W7059 1:3  W7060 1:1 Services to help people gain, maintain, and improve skills that allow them to live and participate in their local community This service may be made available to individuals in their own home or in other residential or community settings not subject to licensing regulations.Behavioral Services: W7095 1:1 Services that specialize in behavioral support for individuals who have challenging behaviors. Support individuals based upon assessment, those with behavioral that prevent an individual from living or working without crisis. The provision includes the training of individuals, staff, relatives and caregivers.Do You Know?   PA CONNECTING COMMUNITIES provides the following services through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) at our new vocational center located at 564 Washington Ave., Carnegie, Pa 15106.  We have a contract with OVR to provide:Evaluations& Assessments to assess the individuals’ skills and interests.Job Coaching/Supportive Employment persons are provided 1:1 staff to assist with job development of obtaining and retaining employment.CBWA (Community Based Work Assessment) allows the individuals to work under supervision with a group of individuals at a community site before being placed on a job.PWAT (Personal Work Adjustment Training) 1:1 staff to client; short term work experience designed to help an individual develop skills needed to obtain competitive employment including work behavior and social skills.Extended Services beyond the 90 day typical training period.Soon to come a Job Readiness Training Center! All waivers, contracts and school district funding sources will be considered.Do You Know?  PA CONNECTING COMMUNITIES provides the following services through the Bureau of Autism Services. Behavioral Specialists 96150 & 96151 1:1 Provides specialized behavioral support for individuals who demonstrate behavioral challenges because of limited communication skills, social skills, limited or impaired sensory systems. The behaviorist will develop the initial plan from the FBA, a crisis intervention plan and on-going support which includes training.Community Inclusion W7201 1:1 Assist participants in acquiring and obtaining communication, socialization, self-help and adaptive skills necessary to reside in the community. This service includes activities to improve the participants’ capacity to perform activities of daily living. Services may be furnished in a participants’ home or other community locations.Job Assessment & Finding W7071 1:1 Provides support necessary to obtain paid or volunteer work in the community including job assessment and job development. Provide on-going support to the participants once work is obtained.Supportive Employment W7200 1:1 Provides on-going assistants in developing the communication, socialization, self-direction, self-help and adaptive skills necessary to maintain employment in a community setting.Transitional Work Services W0011 1:1 – 1:3 Provides community employment opportunities in which the participant is working along- side other people with disabilities. The intent of this service is to support individuals in transition to integrated, competitive employment.Do You Know?  PA CONNECTING COMMUNITIES provides the following services through the Office of Long-Term Living (OLTL) Support Services WaiversSupport Services Waiver is a shortened term for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver Program. This program provides funding for supports and services to help you to live in your home and community. Waivers offer an array of services and benefits such as choice of qualified providers, due process and health and safety assurances.The name waiver comes from the fact that the federal government “waives” Medical Assistance/Medicaid rules for institutional care in order for Pennsylvania to use the same funds to provide supports and services for people closer to home in their own communities.  Each waiver has its own unique set of eligibility requirements and services.Pa Connecting Communities offers the following waivers from OLTL:Attendant Care/Act 150 If you have a physical disability, the Attendant Care Waiver and state funded Act 150 program may be available to you to continue to live in your home and community with support and services.COMMCARE Waiver  A Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If you have a medically determined diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI), the COMMCARE Waiver can help you remain as independent as possible.Independence WaiverIf you are an adult with a severe physical disability, the Independence Waiver may be able to help you live or remain in the community and remain as independent as possible.OBRA WaiverOBRA Waiver is a Home and Community Based Waiver program that may help you if you have a developmental physical disability to allow you to live in the community and remain as independent as possible.