Disability rights groups oppose proposed House budget

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Proposed Budget Will Harm People with Disabilities

The nation’s largest consortium of disability rights groups slammed the House of Representative’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget [PDF] on March 15, over concerns about the impact of its proposed cuts to the federal safety net for people with disabilities.

“Under the House budget proposal, many more people with and without disabilities will be in dire straits, losing access to both physical and mental health care,” the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities wrote in a statement. “Veterans would not benefit from critical employment services, people with disabilities and elders will lose access to community-based services and supports enabling them to stay out of costly institutions, and children will not have access to supports and services in schools.”

Under the budget, proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA), the federal government would cut discretionary budget, meaning non-defense or entitlement spending, by $887 billion over a decade.

It would also repeal the Affordable Care Act and prevent individuals from concurrently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and unemployment benefits, a proposal in past budgets that similarly received push-back from disability advocates.

Medicare would be transformed into a state-run voucher program, similar to the current Medicare Advantage option, and the eligibility age would be raised to 67. Medicaid would be block granted, meaning that Congress would set an overall cap on annual funding, in exchange for providing states additional flexibility in how they use their allotted funds, the Associated Press reports. Most of these proposals mirror those of past budgets by now-House Speaker Paul Ryan, which also encountered significant opposition from disability rights groups.

The budget, introduced March 14 and passed by the House Budget Committee the same day, is unlikely to pass the entire House, due to overwhelming opposition from Democrats, as well as the House Freedom Caucus, which is calling for larger cuts.

On March 23, Congress broke for a two-week recess without voting on the budget, leaving only a few days when it return before its April 15 deadline. The House of has passed a budget each year since the GOP took control of the chamber in 2011, although, like previous budgets, it will almost assuredly be vetoed by President Obama.