Parent, Advocate for The Arc Lunches with Vice President Biden to Discuss Fiscal Cliff’s Impact on His Family

Washington, DC - Today, Bob Hage of Pennington, New Jersey, a parent of twin daughters with significant disabilities and tireless advocate for The Arc, met with Vice President Joe Biden for lunch along with six other individuals at the Metro 29 Diner in Arlington, Virginia to share his story about how a $2,000 or more middle class tax increase as a result of going over the “fiscal cliff” will impact his family’s ability to pay for disability-related expenses in 2013.

Bob Hage and his wife Odette Adrian are a middle class family struggling to make ends meet. They have a 13-year old son Vann, and twin 9-year old daughters Annika and Maya, who have severe developmental disabilities and are non-verbal and medically fragile. As a family with children with special needs, they experience the same expenses and stresses other families encounter. However, they also face the additional financial, emotional, and physical challenges of providing very expensive care for two of their children.

“This was a critical opportunity to impress upon the Vice President the importance of protecting Annika, Maya, and millions of families like ours from a tax increase that will have devastating consequences.  My daughters can’t afford to lose the ground they have gained through therapies that will allow them to reach their full potential.  Not only did Vice President Biden listen, he clearly understands the challenges families like mine face, and I walked away trusting that the Vice President will do everything he can to protect my daughters’ future,” said Bob Hage.

Bob Hage and his wife Odette Adrian want Annika and Maya to have happy and fulfilling lives just as other parents want for their children.  In order for them to help Annika and Maya achieve these goals, they need to pay for critical services.  If the country goes over the “fiscal cliff” and their taxes go up $2000 or more, they will be forced to eliminate some of their daughters’ therapies and activities, which have proven to be crucial to their development.

Annika and Maya go to speech therapy, which has been instrumental in moving them from being totally dependent on liquid tube feedings to eating all their nutrition from pureed foods. Currently, speech therapy’s primary goal is to help Annika and Maya learn to chew so they can eat solid food.

Annika and Maya have significant dental issues and anything other than regular checkups, such as fillings and beyond, requires hospitalization and anesthesia.  These other routine procedures are not covered by their medical insurance and will be cost prohibitive.

Both girls participate in weekly music and gymnastics classes for children with special needs.  While music and gymnastics is recreational for most children, it is vitally important to Annika and Maya’s development.  The music class focuses on building finger strength and coordination through piano and helps the girls to vocalize through singing.  The gymnastics class concentrates on building muscular strength and endurance which is especially important for children with low muscular tone.

An increase of $2,000 or more in taxes would have a major impact on the Adrian-Hages’ ability to provide the services and supports their children with severe disabilities need.

“Annika and Maya shouldn’t face the consequences of gridlock in Washington over taxes.  My girls need these services to learn and keep basic life skills, like chewing food, and to gain some strength so that they can be as independent as possible.  But my wife and I may be forced to make some unimaginable choices if our taxes go up by $2,000 at the beginning of the year,” said Bob Hage.

The Arc Opposes House Republicans’ Budget Blueprint

Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal released today by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) includes a number of provisions that would be devastating to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), their families, and services providers. By far, the most damaging part of the plan would be block granting the Medicaid program. Federal spending on Medicaid would be slashed by $810 billion over ten years, leaving cash-strapped states to fill in the funding gaps with lowered standards and very little oversight.

“It is deeply troubling that, in the name of deficit reduction, there is absolutely no shared sacrifice. The House Budget proposes to decimate the Medicaid program, taking away essential health and long term services and supports for our middle and low income citizens, while providing for tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. It should be called the ‘fend for yourself’ budget,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

This budget plan would also radically transform Medicare by converting it to a voucher program, resulting in most people with disabilities having to pick up a greater share of the tab as they get older. And it would repeal the Affordable Care Act, eliminating expansions of health care that benefit people with disabilities and critical insurance reforms that protect against insurance discrimination.

The Senate Heard You, and Voted Down the Disastrous House Budget Plan!

Late yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted down a federal spending plan that could have disastrous consequences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The bill aims to make drastic cuts and changes to important programs liked Medicaid, Medicare, the new health care law, and a host of other programs that help people with I/DD achieve. Learn more about the bill.

Here at The Arc, we want to give a big thanks to the hundreds of members who acted on our call to contact their Senator and ask that they vote against this bill! You do make a difference!

For those of you want to get more involved, sign up to get our Action Alerts and become a member of The Arc!