After the Sequester: The Autism Society’s Legislative Update
March 14, 2013
By Autism Society
March 1 marked the beginning of the sequester, a series of across-the-board cuts in the federal budget.
While there is a lot of speculation on the impact of these cuts, it is difficult at this time to know specifically which cuts will occur and at what level of reduction. The prevailing thinking is that actual cuts may not be felt until after April, since there are ongoing efforts in Washington, D.C., to address how to reduce spending. Medicaid funding is not part of the sequester, but it’s vital to how we make government spending more efficient.
The Autism Society continues to encourage our elected officials to seek out a reasonable and effective solution to the current government financial situation. Rather than have across-the board cuts, we hope that the national discussion will be directed at examining our nation’s funding priorities. The Autism Society advises that budget cuts should not occur at the direct expense of those with developmental disabilities. We also need to examine how a dollar spent today can save more dollars in the future and have a strong and positive investment in the future of individuals and our society.
The Autism Society is also advocating that many of the programs and services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities must be examined to address excessive duplicative and administrative costs. We also advocate for programs and services to be more goal-oriented and outcome-based leading to increased self-sufficiency, independence and quality of life. For many programs, we remain reliant on program concept and approaches that were established more than 30 years ago and we believe there is a need to re-examine those given the significant changes that have occurred in the last 30 years.
As our national discussion occurs, think the following:
There are approximately 80,000 people with developmental disabilities waiting for services and, in some cases, people wait for five or more years for a service. While this goes on, the U.S. Department of Transportation, through a cooperative funding arrangement with the State of Florida and localities and user fees, is collectively spending $1.2 billion for a new runway at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport so planes don’t have to wait for more than 10 or so minutes to takeoff. To me, reducing the wait time for a plane to take off while not addressing waiting lists for services is a questionable national priority.
A person who moves from one state to another can easily and inexpensively use a driver’s license from one state to get a new driver’s license in a new state of residence. But a person receiving Social Security Community Supported programs in one state who then moves to another has to undergo almost a complete re-application process for receiving such services in his or her new state of residency. That requires additional costs for administration that can be better used for services. Can’t we change that process to allow accepting the person’s prior state’s documentation of need and not have to reassess that same need? That would save money!
These are two of many examples why we need to change our national discussion when it comes to how to make cuts in funding. The Autism Society continues to speak with Congressional leaders about these issues and how we can be a part of the solution to the current financial issues impacting service delivery. Please let your elected officials know of your concerns and suggestions regarding this important national discussion.
April 10, 2013
The Autism Society, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization, has chosen Pittsburgh as the host city of its 44th annual conference on autism spectrum disorders.
April 5, 2013
Individuals with autism can attend the Autism Society National Conference and Exposition (in Pittsburgh) for FREE this year! Learn more: www.autism-society.org/conference.
April 3, 2013
Monarch Teaching Technologies, the makers of VizZle®, web-based educational software for visual learners with autism, will give one-year of free VizZle to every new (or renewing) Champion Member during April.
April 2, 2013
Read the Autism Society’s digital magazine about autism spectrum disorders!
April 2, 2013
Today, throughout the world, individuals will come together highlighting the needs and dreams of people living with autism.