$1.4 trillion to the federal deficit, will trigger automatic cuts to vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, social services and housing programs, and Medicare.
The Senate passed its version of the tax bill and now, with the House, is using a “conference committee” made up of members from both chambers to create a combination bill. Bazelon Center has serious concerns with both bills: The Senate bill repeals a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act that will eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and leave millions without health insurance. The House bill eliminates crucial disability tax credits and deductions, including the Medical Expense deduction and a tax credit that helps businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Most important, both bills add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit, which will trigger automatic cuts to vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, social services and housing programs, and Medicare. Neither bill addresses how this massive reduction in federal funding will impact Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs people with disabilities rely on to live independently in the community.
FIGHTING THE REPEAL OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the largest expansion of mental health services in decades, expanding not only access to health care coverage for millions of people with mental illnesses, but also specifically expanding access to needed mental health services across the health care system. An estimated 62 million Americans gained access to mental health and substance use disorders when the ACA was enacted. Today, the threat of repeal, especially the elimination of Medicaid Expansion and the ban on pre-existing condition discrimination threatens the health and well-being of millions of Americans. We are fighting to protect access to critical health services and invite you to join the fight.
Since 1972, the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law has advocated for the civil rights, full inclusion and equality of adults and children with mental disabilities. We were pivotal in expanding the civil rights movement to include fighting discrimination against, and segregation of, people with mental disabilities. Today, the Bazelon Center accomplishes its goals through a unique combination of litigation, public policy advocacy, coalition building and leadership, public education, media outreach and technical assistance—a comprehensive approach that ensures we achieve the greatest impact.
We employ cutting-edge litigation to effect progressive systemic change and impact public policy. We secured early legal precedents creating basic civil rights for people with mental disabilities—including the rights to a public education, receive services in community-based settings instead of institutions, and make decisions about one’s own care. The Center was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990) and played a key role in the historic case of Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), in which the Supreme Court found that needless segregation of people with psychiatric disabilities violates the ADA. Over the last decade, we have worked to expand the reach of Olmstead to address not only unnecessary institutionalization in public facilities (psychiatric and criminal justice), but also to remedy segregation in nursing homes, board and care homes, schools and classrooms, sheltered workshops, and other day services. Our Olmstead settlement agreements have provided thousands of individuals with opportunities to move out of segregated, dead-end facilities and to live full lives in their communities. We have set legal precedents defining a national model of comprehensive community-based disability systems.