Bethesda, Maryland. December 20, 2017 — Today, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a massive tax bill that will have a long-lasting impact on our debt, health care, and long-term services and supports for people with disabilities. The non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the deficit in its first decade.  In addition, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will result in 13 million fewer people being covered by health care and will raise premiums by about ten percent. The President has said he will sign the bill.

Unfortunately, this could be just the beginning.  The Autism Society is extremely concerned the Congress will next turn to making massive cuts to safety net programs that are critical to individuals with autism and other disabilities and the families that support them: Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Income, Disability Insurance, and other supports. The budget resolutions considered earlier by the House and Senate directs committees with jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to make cuts in the billions to those programs.  It is difficult to imagine how these cuts can be realized without making fundamental alterations and life-threatening cuts to these critical programs.

There are other threats, too, for the disability community, particularly attacks on the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws, important guidance and regulations that support people in the community, as well as cuts to other discretionary programs that will impact research, early intervention, education, and employment services that assist people with disabilities to be productive and independent.

The Autism Society will be vigilantly watching and advocating for the protection of the rights and programs that support people with disabilities. We will galvanize our strong grassroots network of individuals with autism, families, and allies to make our voices heard and keep policymakers accountable.