WASHINGTON – Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted down a federal spending plan that could have disastrous consequences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Leading up to the vote, The Arc, the nation’s largest and oldest human services organization for the I/DD community serving more than a million people with I/DD individuals and their families, opposed this legislation because it would cut $750 billion over 10 years out of Medicaid and end the program as a guaranteed benefit by turning it into a “block grant” that leaves cash-strapped states to fill in the funding gaps with very little oversight.
“The U.S. Senate’s vote put the brakes on a disastrous budget proposal for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As Congress and the nation continue to debate how to promote economic recovery and tackle our deficit, it can’t be done on the backs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
The House of Representatives passed this budget plan, known as the Ryan Plan after its author, Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, in April. The bill includes drastic cuts and changes to:
- Medicaid: Cuts $750 billion over 10 years and ends Medicaid as a guaranteed benefit by turning it into a “block grant” that leaves cash-strapped states to fill in the funding gaps with very little oversight.
- Medicare: Replaces Medicare with a voucher program for younger beneficiaries that will certainly provide less than the current system.
- Discretionary Programs: Eliminates, over time, most federal government programs outside of health care, Social Security, and defense as the cuts are so deep.
- Health Care Reform: Repeals and defunds the Affordable Care Act.
The $4.3 trillion from all of these cuts would be used to provide $4.2 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years without tackling the nation’s deficit.
For people with I/DD, these cuts would have a huge impact on their health and lives. People with I/DD could be denied health insurance coverage, home and community based services, supportive housing, job training, education, transportation, and other services. Medicaid currently funds 78% of services for individuals with I/DD.