Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement as the Congress approved a deal to avert going over the “fiscal cliff” – the series of harmful tax increases and spending cuts which Congress and the White House have been seeking to avoid for several weeks. With time running out, The Arc’s advocates had encouraged Congress to act before the deadline to protect disability related programs and extend tax cuts for the middle class.
“The Arc appreciates the Administration’s outreach to Congress to get this legislation passed so that middle class families with people with disabilities don’t see their income taxes rise in the New Year. Most people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families cannot afford a tax increase and this deal protects them. They also cannot afford cuts to critical programs and this legislation does not include such cuts.
“Throughout these tense weeks of negotiation, there were proposals on the table that would have greatly harmed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including a new way of calculating Social Security benefits known as the ‘chained CPI’ that would have impacted the ability of millions of people with I/DD and other disabilities to be as independent as possible. This threat was excluded in this piece of legislation, as were harmful changes to Medicaid, a lifeline to people with I/DD.
“Going into 2013, there will continue to be mounting pressure to generate additional revenue and to find additional cuts in the federal budget to reduce the deficit further, including the Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security programs. The Arc’s advocates will be vigilant, putting pressure on Congress to protect these lifeline programs.
“The final legislation does include a repeal of the CLASS Act, a part of the Affordable Care Act to address access to costly long term services and supports in our society. We are deeply disappointed that this framework for solving a critical problem was repealed. However, we look to the Commission created in the legislation to work expeditiously to determine next steps to address this problem, including consideration of the needs of people with I/DD,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
Additional legislation will be necessary to address other aspects of the nation’s fiscal situation in the next three months, including an increase in the debt ceiling, the end of the 2-month extension included in this legislation of the sequester (automatic cuts), and appropriations for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013. These deadlines will set the stage for additional negotiations between the Congress and the White House. The Arc will be working hard during these negotiations to preserve programs that are vital to people with I/DD.