Disability Rights Advocates Warn of Potentially Devastating Cuts to Programs

Although President Trump backtracked on cutting funding for Special Olympics, disability rights advocates are wary that this may be a sign of things to come.

Under his new spending plan, which comes out to just under 5 trillion dollars Medicare, employment support for people with disabilities and training and research for autism will all suffer cuts.

In the past, states were able to receive matching grants from the federal government that would cover whatever costs they needed. Now with the changes each state will receive a fixed amount from the federal government.

Another devastating slash to the budget is the elimination of 51 million dollars of funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration for autism and developmental disorders. This means less training for health professionals and research to develop evidence-based services authorized under the Autism CARES Act.

“Before this law existed in 2006, parents were going online and finding crazy ideas for how to treat their own kids, sometimes to their detriment,” Kim Musheno, vice president of public policy for the Autism Society of America, said, according to Disability Scoop. “This law tried to help resolve it by putting dollars into science-based services and supports. We’re actually finding out what works and disseminating it.”

Also on the chopping block is 23 million dollars that had been earmarked for employment state grants designated to the Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration. These funds have been allocated to improve job opportunities for people with disabilities.

They cover services once the client has found work.

“Those are resources states need to continue to offer this important service,” Ward said. “It’s an individualized approach to helping people find the right job and provide a lot of time on the job with support so they can learn the job and eventually do it on their own.”

Three other programs have been cut by more than 25 percent. The controversy over the potential cuts to Special Olympics is actually a blessing in disguise as it has given them the platform to lobby to lawmakers because the topic of disabilities has been fresh in the news cycle.

“I think it has given us the opportunity to talk to members of Congress and their staff and educate them about other critical programs,” Ward said. “Anytime people are talking about disability, it’s an opening to continue to educate and build support.”