Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Action Alert: Email Your Congressional Representative and Senators Today

Take Action!  Ask Congress to Include Disability Programs in the Economic Recovery Plan

People with disabilities will help to put money back into the economy


The U.S. economy is in crisis. So are most state budgets. Currently North Carolina is looking at a $2 billion dollar deficit as we begin the 2009 legislative session.

Congress and the Obama Administration are in the process of developing an $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. Parts of this plan can help states maintain disability services and other parts directly help people with disabilities.

President-elect Obama's key criteria for the economic recovery bill are to create jobs and put money into the hands of people who are likely to spend it. Investments in programs and services that help people with disabilities can play an important role in putting money back into the economy through:

1) Temporary assistance to help states provide health care and long term services and supports. All Medicaid stakeholders are seeking a temporary increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), the federal government's share of Medicaid spending. A temporary increased FMAP will assist states in addressing their budget gaps caused by the economic downturn. These state budget crises are resulting in significant cuts in services and supports for people with disabilities. We must ensure that the economic recovery package includes an FMAP increase of at least $100 billion over two years.

2) A one time cash payment to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries. There are more than 7 million poor people who are elderly and/or have disabilities who receive SSI. People who rely on SSI are among the poorest in the country, subsisting on cash benefits averaging $477 a month. Providing these beneficiaries with an extra monthly payment is being considered as part of the recovery plan. Because these beneficiaries are so poor they are very likely to spend the money quickly.

3) Strengthening employment programs. People with disabilities continue to experience extremely high rates of unemployment. The economic recovery plan should ensure that when jobs are created people with disabilities benefit through enforcement of the affirmative action provisions of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. It should also include significant investments in the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Supported Employment State Grant programs. New funding must also focus on improving services for youth who are transitioning from special education to work.

4) Requiring ADA accessibility compliance in school construction projects. The recovery plan presently includes funding for school repair, renovation and construction. It is imperative that any schools that receive such funds are required to make schools accessible for students with disabilities.

Status of the Economic Recovery Plan

January 15, 2009 - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is expected to be introduced.
Early February, 2009 - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is expected to be sent to President Obama for his signature.

Take Action:
Email your Representative and our state Senators today!  
For sample language please visit The Arc of the US Capwiz site.

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