Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Land of Opportunity - unless you're disabled

Instead of adding unnecessary commentary, I'd simply like to reprint below a letter written by Sue Swenson, executive director of The Arc of the United States and Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy - two of the nation's leading non-profit organizations advocating for people with disabilities.

Their letter was in response to the Congress's passage of the Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Reconciliation bill ("the Budget Reduction Act")
Nationwide, people with disabilities should be saddened to know that their United States Congress considers their health and well-being a less than worthy investment. The Arc and UCP can truthfully say this could be the darkest day for people with disabilities and the future looks even bleaker.

Congress has given State Governors unprecedented abilities to balance their state budgets on the backs of the neediest. Most low-income people with disabilities rely on Medicaid for their health and long-term care. Governors can raise co-payments on Medicaid's prescription medicines and therapies for millions of beneficiaries with disabilities, forcing them to choose between life-saving services or rent, clothes and food. People with disabilities who have no money can be denied the critical prescription drugs and long-term care they need to survive if they cannot pay these co-payments required by the new law.

Children born with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and related developmental disabilities will suffer without Medicaid's Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program, which can prevent and minimize disability through early, regular health screenings and treatments. In addition, new onerous work requirements for TANF recipients will force many parents of children with disabilities further into poverty.

This Budget Reconciliation is unlike any other in Congress's history and shows a true callousness for our nation's poorest and most vulnerable populations. Passage of this law represents a huge set back for services and supports for our constituents and their families. They deserve better.
Another proud day to be an American...



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