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White House Solicits Input From Disability Community


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When President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sat down Friday with leaders from special interest groups to discuss the impending fiscal cliff, at least one disability advocate was at the table.

Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, was one of 13 leaders representing groups including AARP, the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign at the afternoon meeting in the West Wing of the White House.

The gathering was one of three sessions the president held with stakeholders last week as he looks to strike a deal with Congress to avert federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect in January. At that time, most federal programs are set to be slashed by at least 8.2 percent under a process known as sequestration, which was set in motion last year when Congress failed to reach a budget deal. Meanwhile, a series of tax cuts are set to expire as well.

Advocates from a wide range of disability groups say the budget cutbacks could have a devastating impact on people with disabilities affecting everything from special education to employment programs. What’s more, while Social Security and Medicaid are not slated to be cut, the entitlement programs are likely to be considered as lawmakers work to reach a deal.

With that in mind, Berns said he took the opportunity Friday to emphasize the importance of entitlements.

“Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, which are lifeline programs for people with disabilities, should not be at risk in these budget negotiations,” said Berns who urged Obama to “keep our nation’s commitment to people with disabilities.”

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Comments (19 Responses)

  1. Glen S says:

    Again, the those who claim to represent ALL individuals with disabilities will hold their hands out for us all and thank the President and other government officials for the scraps that will come. Is our allegiance and dignity actually for sale for so little? When will the great community of individuals with disabilities actually learn that the government gives very little for the price they extract in lost self-determination?

  2. Rich H. says:

    With a 2 long year political campaign,nobody running for President,Congress,or local elections in Phoenix area mentioned a BIG increase in Section 8 Housing Vouchers!!!

    This April,it will be 2 years being in the Section 8 Waiting List in Tempe,Az for me. If people can get Food Stamps almost instantly,why can’t us poor Disabled get Section 8 Vouchers instantly?

    Don’t the elected leaders understand that would ‘stimulate’ the economy big time????

    Food Stamps are $1.00 to $1.73 to stimulate the economy

  3. Whitney says:

    The problem is jobs if people can do the job just as well non-disabled and need a little assistance making them viable member or society. Your asking for segment to give up the American dream so just a select few can have the picket fence. I would like to see the Congressman or Congress Woman live off what we are asked to live off.

    Really if non-disabled Americans put with the nonsense of second class citizens like the disabled community does there will be Revolution. American have long live in denial of equal rights for everyone is just a pipe dream for some. But then again look at American history to discover long line of discrimination and subgation of another class. Lets see Slavery, Indentured Servitude, Jim Crow the list goes on.

  4. Bonnie M. Sullivan says:

    Dear Mr. President, Mr. Vice President and legislative leaders,
    I am a guardian of my sister who has developmental disabilities and an advocate for the RHCs in WA State. In addition I’m on the Governor’s Task Force discussing the future of RHCs in our state. I have followed the discussions thus far and am worried that you will view all of the RHCs as equal and take the word of the representative of The ARC as the only view that is worthwhile.
    Many of our loved ones in the RHCs are extremely vulnerable and would suffer greatly if moved. Among those who have moved there are those who have died, whose behavior problems escalated so much that they eventually were moved back. There is no adequate safety net in the homes outside the RHCs and the abuse and neglect is rampant in many. Please allow a representative from VOR to sit with you at the table to hear the other viewpoint.
    Thank you,
    Bonnie M. Sullivan

  5. DC Matthews says:

    People who are or are registered to become full time graded college students should not get medicaid cuts. In fact, those on only medicaid should be upped to medicare so more can get access to needed medical care not now available and have better odds to succeed. If more can get off the dole it will be saving taxpayers a lot more money in the long run.

  6. ajtmom says:

    This is why it is so important to educate ALL children, those with and without disabilities. I’m in the process of raising all my children (one has an intellectual disability, another a learning disability, and my third is very bright) to be self sufficient, so they don’t have to rely on anyone else, government included.
    The easiest, quickest way to increase funding is to eliminate the waste and reduce spending. The first place to look is eligibility. There are way too many individuals receiving assistance, who could be working. This takes away from those who really do need support.

  7. Linda Fredrick says:

    Dear Mr President,

    I myself am disabled due to a blood clotting disorder and vascular insufficiency in my legs because of it. I am also trying to help my husband here at home following a catastrophic brain bleed that has left the once athletic man, wheelchair bound, on a trach, unable to stand or walk, and unable to even feed himself. I am so worried about these things, and what it would do to us if we lost medicare or social security.He has had over 20 hospitalizations and countless months of therapies, and if we did not have our benefits we would be bankrupted. As it is I can not work because of my own restrictions, but if I could, I would not be able to work to earn enough to cover the cost of his day care, or to meet the demands I live under. I am stressed out, exhausted and bewildered. Yet I keep trying to do all that I can humanly do to help him, and to take care of myself. I am terrified that the disabled and seniors will be thrown under the bus. Please Mr. President, please help us. all of us, to survive. For us it is just that survival.

  8. Jayne says:

    About more choices for the disabled. We need nationally available progressive liberal higher education with self designed and/or experiential degrees for everyone, that will focus on helping all to graduate, not just attend school. Also, where did the Class Act go? Will it be available? When? And on another important topic more home/farm ownership opportunities need to be available to all and the right to own a home, should also be available to all.

  9. j mclane says:

    You dont have a clue what your doing too the elderly-disabled- cut medical coverage -basic needs-meds- and then tell them their doing better????? cut my pay 1000 then froze my wages another yr ok makes 4 yrs…cut what supplies needed for my grand daughters care– i pay out of pocket now for them… tight each month doesnt even come close…i do without my meds so i can get her supplies and food and the things that she needs too live….200 in food benifts only cover 1 week of her food….. YOU DONT KNOW A DARN THING!!!! WE ARE NOT JUST # ON A DARN BALANCE SHEET __IHAVE MKORE THAN PAYED FOE THE SMALL SSI MY GRANDDAUGHTER RECIEVES EACH MONTH WITH THE TAXES YOU TAKE…. YOU GIVE US NOTHING..BUT CUTS….

  10. Marlys larsen says:

    We must continue to look out for and protect the
    The less fortunate. If we don’t continue our costs
    Will skyrocket as we will see. More in the
    Penal system or the hospital. Or the mental
    Institution. These are far more costly than helping
    Them to live successfully in society

    Marlys larsen

  11. Jack Daly says:

    We can’t balance our budget on the backs of the elderly and people with disabilities. We need to stop using ‘entitlement’as if it were a dirty word. A Nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. How will we be judged, Mr. President?

  12. rhowarth says:

    First, I would like to point out that many students with severe disabilities, including Emotional Disabilities, multiple disabilities, ADHD, autism, and SLD, and ID enter public charter schools (taxpayer-funded) only to be kicked out into their neighborhood public schools after the October 1 deadline when public and charter schools get their funding based on enrollment. Inevitably, children with behavioral disorders or those requiring dedicated aides, wind up in underfunded public schools. Moreover, there are disproportionate numbers of children with disabilities living in poverty-stricken areas, as parents (often single because of the stresses associated with the difficulties of raising disabled children) struggle to feed, clothe, house, and care for their special needs children. In the inner city school where I work, one-third of the enrolled population has an identified disability.

    Second, too many children with difficult behaviors become chronic truants and drug abusers; these are children who have experienced horrific events in their lives: sexual abuse, the murder of family members and friends, victims of gunshot wounds, bullying, and the daily threat of abuse and sudden death. Some of these who are sickest themselves become predators. After years in the jail system at great public expense, they wind up back on the streets, homeless, unemployable, poorly socialized, and deeply alienated.

    The structural problems surrounding this issue are immense, complicated, and require a public health approach to problem-solving. I would love to see President Obama assign a multifaceted task force to begin the difficult work of designing a systematic approach to problem-solving. There certainly is no single cure for these myriad problems. However, the common denominator is poverty and social dysfunction. If we work together as a community, we can indeed begin to build a much better future not only for our children with special needs, but for our country.

  13. Dadvocate says:

    This meeting, like the White House Conference call on the same subject last week, wasn’t about disability policy nuances. Obama administration disability policy is pretty well laid out and available for all to see on their website. Rather, these meetings were designed to get a large voting block fired up and riled up aboout potential entitlement cuts in order to put pressure on House Republicans to play ball with Democrats…and cave in on letting the ill considered Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire as originally scheduled. The more angry voters that Reps hear from in their home districts, the more they in turn will pressure their leadership (who call ALL the shots in the House) to compromise on the tax side. Politics 101, IMHO.

  14. Marian Boivin says:

    All the parents of young adults with challenges must unite and go to White and let Obama know the challenges are young adults are facing. I am disgusted how some of the agencies treat the young adults with no or little respect. They need more funding to help them make them successful citizens in this society. My son has been the Division of Rehabilitation since he was 16 and now is 23 and still doesn’t have a job. What does this say about the CEO’s in this world!!!!!!

  15. Justsayin says:

    To Bonny M. Sullivan,
    Thank you for your response. Even as I read the title, I knew the rep at the table would be the Arc. You are brave to speak of this issue. Our state Arc advocates effectively silence dissenting voices on this issue, which are many with real stories to back up their alarm. We are throwing the baby out with the bath water in closing the RHC’s rather than work harder to create community and opportunity within them. At a time of economic challenges we are ignoring the opportunities to coop resources and serve more people in meaningful lifestyles. By doing so we are keeping more people from being served with community programs that go beyond the rental house in a bad neighborhood with under skilled and unmotivated staff. This is a horrible discrimination and a translation of the paternalistic ‘we know better than you’ and the ultimate of warehousing of people. Wake up Washington and DC!

  16. cka says:

    The above article implies that Social Security is an entitlement. Depends on which Social Security Program you are talking about. We need to be more explicit when we are talking about this!!!

  17. Toby Hoff says:

    As a disabled person the thing that concerns me the most is that I have worked alot but I’m not allowed to be paid! I have a degree and I’m NOT STUPID

  18. Saskia Davis says:

    Dear Mr. President:
    Bonnie Sullivan is right to bring to your attention that people with developmental disabilities who live in the Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs) of Wa. State, as well as others in other states’ institutional homes are there by virtue of their extreme disability, dependency and need. Federal, CMS audits-tied-to-funding protect their safety, living conditions and programs far more dependably than their non-institutional residential program counterparts. I write as the guardian for my sister whose safety, health & wellbeing depend upon the comprehensive care that she receives in her RHC home. One size does not fit all. The spectrum of need related to disabilities must be met with a seamless continuum of care and services that includes residential institutional settings, and must not be discounted in the name of budget balancing. Thank you for your service. To Disabilty Scoops: I could not find the means by which to send this message to the White House. Can you please publish the link?
    Thank you.

  19. James R. Hardman J.D. says:

    I am a legal guardian for a number people with intellectual developmental disabilities. I agree 100% with the opinions expressed by Michelle Diament, above. I am troubled that the ARC may be the sole voice for people like my guardianship clients whose intellectual disabilities are in the profound and severe ranges. The ARC of Washington and the ARC of King County actually advocate against the best interests of my clients who live and receive services at our state operated habilitation centers and skilled nursing facilities which specialize in care for people with developmental disabilities.

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