Transition to Independence Act: A Discussion

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, we are financial experts, with personal and professional experience in planning for the future of individuals with special needs. As experts, we are fully aware that a decision is only as good as the information it is based on. That’s why, when we launched our website in 2009, we pledged that it would act not only as a source of information about M&L and our services, but also as a resource for families with special needs. It is our goal that each and every visitor to our website will learn something new; it is our hope that they use this information to plan for the future of their loved one with disability.

Over the last couple of years, we have been using this weekly blog as a way of passing on information that we feel is valuable to those in the special needs community. If you browse through our blog archive, you will find topics related to financial planning, life planning, independent living, transitioning, government benefits, and government regulations, etc. We encourage all of our visitors, clients, friends and family to utilize our website as a resource – all blog topics can be accessed via the drop-down menu titled Blog Categories on the right hand side of our website.

Today, we would like to add to this archive by writing about a recent piece of legislation that may become incredibly beneficial to the special needs community. On June 18th, bipartisan bill S.1604 – also known as the Transition to Independence Act – was introduced to the Senate. This bill, through a proposed Medicaid demonstration program, leads the way for an increase in the integrated employment opportunities available for individuals with disabilities. Please join us for a discussion of this bill.

The Transition to Independence Act: What is it?

Quite simply, the Transition to Independence Act is a piece of legislation that aims to promote greater integration of individuals with disabilities into the community and places of employment. The bill, which was sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley, Bob Casey, and Ron Wyden, aims to create “a demonstration project to encourage states to improve opportunities for individuals with disabilities to obtain employment in the community, gaining self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion.[i]

Under the Act, 10 states would take part in a five-year program that would offer financial bonuses to states that provided assistance to individuals seeking to work and live in the community. As found on Sen. Grassley’s website, the legislation will,“improve opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain integrated employment and reduce their relegation to subminimum wages and segregated environments, modernize and coordinate systems to offer cost effective supports and services to people with disabilities consistent with the rising expectations of and for people with disabilities, and ensure that people with disabilities and their families regularly receive accurate information about and have access to services and supports that promote self determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion.[ii]

This assistance would be measured by predetermined benchmarks, i.e. reduced participation in segregated programs, and increased participation in individual integrated employment. Other benchmarks, such as demonstration of interagency co-ordination, increasing Medicaid payments for supported employment providers, and the provision of state tax credits for employers that hire new working age people with disabilities who receive Medicaid-funded HCBS, would also be included.

It is important to note that this bill, although only three weeks old, already has the support of a number of disability advocacy organizations, including (but not limited to) Autism Speaks, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Down Syndrome Congress, and Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Would you like more information?

Thank you all for taking the time to visit our website today – we hoped that we were able to provide you with some valuable information on the Transition to Independence Act. We will be following this legislation closely as it moves through the house, and will keep our readers updated as to any changes or developments that may occur as its supporters work to ensure that it is passed. If you would like to express your support of the bill, please click here. Please follow these links to read Sen. Grassley’s bill summary, his speech to the Senate, or the congress.gov bill summary.

If you have any questions regarding this bill, or financial or life planning for individuals with special needs in general, please contact us! If you would like for us to cover a specific topic, or answer general questions related to special needs planning in one of our weekly blogs, don’t be shy to let us know. We’d love to hear from you, and we love to help.

Thanks again for dropping by – we hope to see you next week!

[i] http://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/grassley-wyden-casey-introduce-bill-help-individuals-disabilities-gain

[ii]http://www.grassley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/news/upload/Transition%20to%20Independence%20Act%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

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