Tag Archives: Disability

What the Trump budget says about the administration’s health priorities

President Donald Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021. AP photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Simon F. Haeder, Pennsylvania State University

The Trump administration recently released its budget blueprint for the 2021 fiscal year, the first steps in the complex budgetary process.

The final budget will reflect the input of Congress, including the Democratic House of Representatives, and will look significantly different.

However, budget drafts by presidential administrations are not meaningless pages of paper. They are important policy documents highlighting goals, priorities and visions for the future of the country. Continue reading

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‘People, Poor Disabled People in Particular, Are Going to Die’: Trump Takes Axe to Medicaid

“Trump wants to destroy Medicaid while claiming to save it. This fiendish scheme is an Orwellian fable conjured up by the most shameless pack of liars to ever occupy our government.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2020

CMS Administrator Seema Verma with President Donald Trump in 2018. Photo: White House

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a plan allowing states to convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants, a longstanding conservative goal that critics warn could have deadly consequences for millions of vulnerable people who rely on the healthcare program as a major source of income.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the so-called “Healthy Adult Opportunity” initiative in a statement claiming the policy will “improve health outcomes and care” for low-income people. Continue reading

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‘A National Disgrace’: Trump Proposes Social Security Change That Could End Disability Benefits for Hundreds of Thousands

“Donald Trump and his advisers know that this will kill people, and they do not care. Every current and future Social Security beneficiary must band together to defeat this horrific proposal, or else all of our earned benefits will be next.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-16-2019

Graphic: Government Accountability Office

Activists are working to raise public awareness and outrage over a little-noticed Trump administration proposal that could strip life-saving disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people by further complicating the way the Social Security Administration determines who is eligible for payments.

The proposed rule change was first published in the Federal Register last month but has received scarce attention in the national media. Last week, the Social Security Administration extended the public comment period on the proposal until January 31, 2020. Continue reading

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‘Needless and Ideologically-Driven Cruelty’: Arkansas to Become First State to Implement Trump’s Assault on Medicaid

“In a very real sense, health coverage for millions of Americans who rely on Medicaid could be at risk under the agenda Trump is advancing.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-5-2018

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma and Arkansas’ Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a press conference on Monday. (Photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson/Twitter)

The Trump administration is waging a vicious war on Medicaid—a program that provides life-saving healthcare to around 74 million Americans—and its effects will soon be felt in the state of Arkansas.

On Monday, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma—who, prior to joining the Trump White House, helped craft Indiana’s punitive Medicaid restrictions—hand-delivered and signed a federal waiver granting Arkansas permission to begin imposing work requirements on the state’s Medicaid recipients, 60 percent of whom already work. Continue reading

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Arrests of Trumpcare Protesters, Some in Wheelchairs, Outside McConnell’s Office

“Don’t touch Medicaid! Don’t touch Medicaid!”

By Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2017

A Trumpcare opponent being carried from a sit-in outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Thursday morning after the Republicans released their draft version of a healthcare overhaul bill. (Photo: Screenshot/CNBC)

Soon after a draft version of the Republican’s Senate version of their Trumpcare care bill was released Thursday morning, Capitol Hill Police were systematically arresting people who staged a dramatic sit-in outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office.

Amid chants of “Don’t Touch Medicaid!” and signs suggesting the same, many of those protesting the Senate bill were either elderly or in wheelchairs, offering a stunning visual as police tried to remove them from the hallway. Continue reading

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Disabled, Sick or Poor? Trump’s America is not for You

Trump’s contempt for disabilities became apparent early in his campaign. Now echoed by Ryan’s budget and the GOP’s pushing of a healthcare plan whose success depends on Americans with illness dying to save billions over the years in lowered medical costs, many are losing hope.

Written by John Benedict

Photo: fionao71/tumblr

I’m angry.

As an American who works for a company whose owner is disabled; as a coworker of a person who is disabled; as the son and nephew of disabled American Veterans; and the spouse of a person who receives RSDI income due to a disability; I’m sickened by the proposed 2018 Federal Budget put out by the Trump White House.

The current administration shows no regard for Americans with disabilities. Nor do they appear to care about anyone with a “pre-existing” medical condition. Nor do they care about anyone else who will lose their healthcare coverage when the Republicans figure out a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Oh, did I mention that they also plan on slashing spending on Medicaid,  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Childhood Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Benefits, and other programs?

Since when do we care so little about our fellow Americans that we would be willing to let them suffer and even die so that “we” can build up our already enormous stockpile of military weapons and be able to give each of the millionaires in the United States a nice $50,000 tax break (round numbers- if you happen to be a millionaire -your slice of what is left of the sick / disabled /or poor may be slightly different)?

I have paid taxes for 39 years to fund these programs. Now this administration tells me and the rest of the American taxpayers that we don’t need any safety nets. If you can’t work, well then , you don’t deserve to eat. If you are unfortunate enough to get hurt on the job, well then, it sucks to be you. You don’t deserve a “hand-out” from the insurance fund that you have paid into your entire working life. If your child has cancer that is being treated under your current insurance policy, and your employer decides to change insurance providers, well sorry about that, but that is a ‘pre-existing’ condition now and your new insurance won’t cover it, or it will up to a limit that you will surpass in a short amount of time, we can’t worry about that, because this country needs more bombs and missiles, and a tax cut for the millionaires who REALLY don’t care if that child of yours dies or not. Suck it up buttercup and get with the program. You and your well being JUST DON’T MATTER.

I love my county. I believe  the politicians that “We the People” elect are supposed to represent  all of us that comprise”We the People”. Not the Corporations (no matter what SCOTUS told us in the ‘Citizens’ United’ decision), and NOT just a small amount of “citizens”who have filled their campaign coffers. We need politicians who have the gumption to stand up against this budget which is nothing more than a vile attack on those who are poor, sick or disabled.

We as Americans deserve better. Much Better.

Related Article: No country for people with disabilities

About the Author:
John Benedict grew up in white, middle-class America when there still was such a thing. He has worked blue collar jobs for nearly 40 years. He grew up in a home where one parent who had a disability. He also is now married to a disabled spouse.


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ABLE Is Ready

"A bunch of artificial limbs" by Nadya Peek - originally posted to Flickr as More uncanny piles of discarded prothetics. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_bunch_of_artificial_limbs.jpg#mediaviewer/File:A_bunch_of_artificial_limbs.jpg

“A bunch of artificial limbs” by Nadya Peek – originally posted to Flickr as More uncanny piles of discarded prothetics. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Across America, over 37 million people begin their day much different than the rest of our society. Some need to put on a limb or two. Others need to go through their shower, breakfast and trip to their job in a wheelchair. Still others confront obstacles that would cause most of us to give up.

  • Just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.1
  • Over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12% of the total population. More than 50% of those disabled Americans are in their working years, from 18-64.2


Yet our continued open discrimination of disabled people remains not only legal, it causes some to think we are too lenient with those that have “different abilities” than the rest of us. When workers have weekly or monthly payroll deductions taken from their paychecks, it includes disability insurance, referred to as a FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) tax. This is not an entitlement program, it is an insurance program. The scrutiny and processes used by the SSA to determine eligibility is not easy to navigate, and IF you manage to qualify, your monthly benefit amount becomes a political football whenever budget discussions take place in Washington.

Our labor laws allow corporations to pay a disabled worker far less than minimum wage. We make it nearly impossible for many disabled people to live independent lives by keeping them in economic poverty. We don’t allow recipients of disability benefits to have savings accounts in excess of $2,000. We ask every job seeker in the country if they are one of “these people” on job applications.

In what some think of as an often “disabled body” in and of itself, Congress is poised to be ABLE to do something about a portion of the hardships these people face. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act would ease the financial burden for individuals with disabilities by creating tax-free accounts that can be used to save for disability-related expenses. These accounts can be created by individuals to support themselves or by families to support their dependents.

The ABLE act was introduced by Ander Crenshaw [R-FL4] in the House and by Robert Casey [D-PA] in the Senate. Together, the two bills have over 400 cosponsors.

The bill would create tax-exempt, state based private savings accounts to fund disability-related expenses to supplement benefits currently provided by Social Security, Medicaid, employers, and private insurance. The account shall be treated in the same way as a qualified tuition program, such as a 529. A 529 account allows families to save money for an individual’s education without being disqualified for certain aid programs and prevents tax penalties on the money saved and any income earned from it.

Expenses would qualify as disability-related if they are for the benefit of an individual with a disability and are related to the disability. They include education; housing; transportation; employment support; health, prevention, and wellness costs; assistive technology and personal support services; and other expenses.

The only problem we could find with this piece of legislation is the clause that explains what happens to the savings account in the event of the disabled person’s death:

‘Subject to any outstanding payments due for qualified disability expenses, in the case that the designated beneficiary dies or ceases to be an individual with a disability, all amounts remaining in the qualified ABLE account not in excess of the amount equal to the total medical assistance paid for the designated beneficiary after the establishment of the account, net of any premiums paid from the account or paid by or on behalf of the beneficiary to a Medicaid Buy-In program, under any State Medicaid plan established under title XIX of the Social Security Act shall be distributed to such State upon filing of a claim for payment by such State. For purposes of this paragraph, the State shall be a creditor of an ABLE account and not a beneficiary. Subsection (c)(3) shall not apply to a distribution under the preceding sentence.'”

Occupy World Writes questions why the state gets the savings account of these people, while all other people are allowed their assets to be inherited by designated beneficiaries after their death. Even with the best of intention, we still can’t recognize that these people are PEOPLE, not a sub-human class less deserving of the rights, liberties and freedoms granted all “other” able-bodied people.

Is Congress ABLE to pass ABLE?

    1. U.S. Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet February 7, 2013
    2. U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2011
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Working Together

Photo By The U.S. Army (Warrior Transition Brigade) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By The U.S. Army (Warrior Transition Brigade) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

America employs the largest volunteer military force in the world. In order to accomplish this without conscription, the government promises to take care of troops when they leave the service, including any injuries suffered while serving the nation.

Most men and women serving in the military do so out of a sense of duty and nationalism; family tradition, patriotic spirit or belief in the future of the country might all factor heavily in the individual decision. Regardless, they are recruited with not only the promise of education and specialized training, but also the benefit of health care.

The current backlog for veterans applying for disability benefits after returning from war is staggering. Some have waited as long as 1 or 2 years, and in 2013 it took an average of 378 days to process a claim, according to the annual report released by the VA.

Washington and the Pentagon seem to throw their hands up in despair, claiming they are doing the best they can. Yet we have heard no discussion about solutions that could actually get results and serve our veterans with less shameful failure. These men and women fought for our country. They shouldn’t have to fight for their own benefits. They shouldn’t die while waiting for paperwork.

To begin with, many veterans are looking for work. Why not use some of their understanding of veteran issues to expand the VA services personnel to accommodate the backlog? These men and women already have a working knowledge of “governmentesse,” the language used by the military. The vast usage of acronyms alone is enough to offer a multi-volume set of books. Veterans are better qualified than those who have never served to be able to complete this process of application efficiently and accurately.

Chuck Hagel answers questions at a town hall style meeting for disable veterans. January, 2014. Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chuck Hagel answers questions at a town hall style meeting for disable veterans. January, 2014. Photo By Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Secondly, we could reassign people already working within the government that are experienced with disability claims. The Department of Education has their own disability division, which refuses to accept the disability claims approved through the Social Security Administration’s more than thorough disability process and determination. Their purpose is to make it virtually impossible for disabled students to qualify under their guidelines and prevent the discharge of remaining student loans if someone becomes disabled before those loans are paid off. With a bit of retraining to understand that the veterans DESERVE the benefits and it is the purpose of the VA to provide them, these people could assist the VA with the backlog.

The Department of Education needs to accept SSA disability determinations that entitle discharge of student loan debt to disabled students. This “way of doing business” is discriminatory and a waste of taxpayer money. It is belittling and humiliating to the disabled student. I would know – I am one they are doing it to.

I don’t know about you, but I happen to think caring for our troops is far more important than punishing disabled students.

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