In this issue:
- How the Build Back Better Act would impact Minnesotans with disabilities
- Updates from Washington, D.C.
- Mark Your Calendars
- Noteworthy News & Resources
Blog post: What is included in the Build Back Better Act?
By Grace Seifert, State and Federal Policy Intern
After months of negotiations, the House passed a $1.75 trillion social policy and climate change bill called the Build Back Better Act. The act includes historic policy proposals that focus on the care infrastructure, combatting climate change, income supports and taxes, early childhood education, housing, and many more. The act has many exciting and historic proposals including steps towards universal health coverage, steps towards halving carbon emissions by 2030, universal preschool plans, etc.
Home and Community-Based Services
- $150 billion is being invested in Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) over 10 years. This investment is meant to eliminate waiting lists for services and bolster pay for direct care workers.
- This bill assists making the Money Follows the Person program permanent. This means that the bill will help people with disabilities who want to leave congregate care and transition to live in their own home and community with the services and supports they choose.
Education and Child Care
- $390 billion is being invested in universal pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
- $160 million is being invested in IDEA Part D (legislation that ensures students with disabilities are provided with free, appropriate, tailored education). This will help develop training for personnel working with students with disabilities.
- $25 million is being invested for behavioral health needs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Under the universal preschool plan, parents will be able to send their children to a public school or childcare program of their choice. The effort is to ease financial burdens of millions of families, specifically low-income parents with children.
- $150 billion investment in affordable housing supports, including funding for vouchers, rental assistance, and other public housing improvements. The proposed funding for new vouchers is estimated to help 138,000 people with disabilities receive affordable, accessible housing.
- $100 million investment in the Section 811 and 202 programs for people with disabilities and seniors to provide rental assistance. This will create more supportive housing.
- 4 weeks of guaranteed paid and medical leave for all workers. This will help people with disabilities take time off for medical reasons and will help family members to provide care for a loved one without risk of losing their job.
Child Tax Credit
- The act will extend the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which provides more than 35 million households up to $3,600 per year in tax cuts per child.
- The proposed legislation will extend this program for the year of 2022, providing payments to nearly 90% of American children.
Earned Income Tax Credit
- The act will extend the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for around 17 million low-wage workers. This will help low-wage childless workers who have previously been taxed into deeper poverty.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Reforms
- Supplemental Security Income provides monthly payments to people with disabilities.
- The proposed text would extend Supplemental Security Income to residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. This would finally eliminate a critical gap in Supplemental Security Income coverage and provide access to hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities who live in U.S. territories.
- The act would permanently expand Medicaid eligibility to millions of Americans who previously fell within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage gap. This will help in closing the coverage gap and will allow up to 4 million uninsured Americans to gain access to coverage.
Other Disability Policy Proposals
The act includes disability employment supports including:
- funding for pre-apprenticeship programs and funding to businesses and organizations that are working to phase out programs that pay people with disabilities sub-minimum wage.
- It encourages transformation to competitive integrated employment and the phasing out of subminimum wage through providing grants to states.
Investments would be made for Administration for Community Living grants to help expand community mental and behavioral health programs and funding for projects to upgrade the accessibility of public transportation services.
The proposals explained above could help improve the lives of millions of people with disabilities and their families. While it’s important that each of these proposals are well-funded, it is also important that in addition to proposals like this, we are actively transforming our systems to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families. We must continue to work and strategize to identify flaws in these systems and create real and lasting change by thinking outside of systems solutions.
Updates from Washington, D.C.
From American Association of People with Disabilities:
The Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act reintroduced in the Senate
The TCIEA refers to the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act. The TCIEA was originally introduced in Congress in 2019. Since no action was taken at that time, it was re-introduced in April 2021.
Currently Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to obtain certificates through which they can pay employees with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage, or subminimum wage. Since there is no minimum wage requirement in these circumstances, employers can pay however little they want. The average wage of a person with a disability working under a 14(c) certificate was $3.34 per hour in 2018. This is less than half of the federal minimum wage. Not only is this an unlivable wage, but it diminishes the skills and contributions of people with disabilities, segregates them from people without disabilities, and makes disabled people feel that they are worth less than their non-disabled peers.
The Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA) would phase out the subminimum wage provision over a five year period. It would provide states, employers, and any relevant agencies with the resources they need to support people with disabilities. It would encourage competitive integrated employment. This refers to disabled employees working alongside nondisabled employees, earning the same wage for the same tasks, and receiving similar opportunities for promotion and advancement. Here is a detailed fact sheet on the TCIEA and here is a simplified version created by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
AAPD Celebrates Passage of the Build Back Better Act in the House; Says, “Now It’s Time to Finish the Job.”
AAPD celebrates the passage of the Build Back Better Act by the House. This bill would transform the lives of tens of millions of disabled people, older adults, working families, women, people of color, low-income and middle-class people, and many others.
“Tonight, by voting for the Build Back Better Act, the House of Representatives has taken a major step toward passing one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our lifetimes. We applaud and thank the Congressional leadership who have overseen this process, especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and Congressman Frank Pallone, for their dedication and persistence.” said Maria Town, President and CEO of AAPD.
“Now it’s time to finish the job. The Senate must work to swiftly resolve any remaining issues and pass the Build Back Better Act without further delay. Already, too many Americans—people with disabilities, our families, and direct support workers alike—have suffered because of a lack of access to services and support. Without the social infrastructure investments in this bill, the Americans most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will not be able to equally participate in the next phase of our economic recovery. It does not matter if we create economic advancement opportunities through the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act if those opportunities remain inaccessible to people with disabilities because they cannot receive the services they need to thrive in their homes and communities.”