Jewish Disability Awareness Month

J-DAM, J-DAD, J-What’s Next?!

You may not have heard, but Congress sure did—the Jewish community cares about disability rights! On Tuesday over 30 professional and lay leaders descended on Capitol Hill. They came from across the country, from different denominations, from social service agencies and philanthropic agencies—all to advocate for issues facing the disability community today.

The day focused on education and conversations around sequestration, the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act), and the Community First Choice option in Medicaid expansion. In case you didn’t hear from our great speakers, including Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, here’s the 411:

  • Sequestration—And you thought the threat of sequestration was “just a budget issue.” In reality conversations around deficit reduction and averting the sequester will bring all programs to the table, possibly including programs vital to people with disabilities. On Tuesday, we asked Congress to protect these programs we care about, and you can ask too!
  • ABLE Act—The ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) would provide secure funding for disability-related expenses on behalf of designated beneficiaries with disabilities that will supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources. It works similar to a tax-free college savings account or retirement IRA, allowing parents to save for their children who will need expensive supports in the future or freeing people with disabilities to save earnings from their jobs without exceeding health care caps.
  • Community First Choice—This option, when adopted by states, would provide home- and community-based services under Medicaid. States that take up this option receive a six-percentage-point increase in federal matching payments for costs associated with Medicaid. The option could pave the way for even broader expansions of home- and community-based services in Medicaid, moving away from institutionalization that results in lower qualities of life.

If you missed this great event, it’s not too late to participate in the RAC’s other Jewish Disability Awareness Month events. Join us on February 21 and February 28 for our webinar series, “Say YES! Building Inclusive Communities.” With registration, you will have the opportunity to learn how to make your community more accessible and welcoming to all.

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Raechel Banks

About Raechel Banks

Raechel Banks is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. She grew up in Dallas, TX, as a member of Temple Emanu-El. She recently graduated from Brandeis University.

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