Saturday, November 26, 2016
Hello everyone, and welcome back to our blog this week! We appreciate that you have taken the time to visit our website today.
The last year and a half has been trying for the American people. The 2016 presidential election was a contentious one, dividing the country down the middle and exposing deep and oftentimes bitter differences in opinion as to how the country should be managed. On November 9th the country spoke, and after 18 months of campaigning, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.
The prospect of a Trump administration has ignited the disability community. Many advocates, professionals, and individuals with a disability have spoken out, expressing their concerns about possible changes to disability policy under this new administration. Advocates from Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the National Disability Institute (NDI) have written publicly about their concerns, and news networks such as the Huffington Post and Disability Scoop have published articles examining what the new policies may look like for individuals with disabilities.
Here at M&L, we would like to take the opportunity to offer a clear and concise examination of what we know about Trump’s disability policy, and how we can ensure that our loved ones with disabilities will still retain the rights that they have fought long and hard to secure.
What We Know about the President Elect’s Disability Policy
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of a new presidential administration for individuals with disabilities is the uncertainty that it brings; despite all of the conjecture in the media in regards to any and all potential changes, no one is quite sure how the Trump administration will handle disability policy.
As written in the Huffington Post, “it is impossible to know how Trump will govern.” This is indeed true, but advocates go on to point out that Trump’s desire to “weaken America’s safety net”, as well as his “campaign platform” and the ambiguity in regards to disability policy (as contrasted with the Clinton campaign and it’s “clear, specific, and timely policy proposals to expand the social safety net and civil rights of people with disabilities ”) does not bode well.
Having said that, what exactly do we know in regards to harmful changes that Trump plans to make to policies that affect the disability community? To begin, advocates for individuals with disability point specifically to Trump’s expressed commitment to repeal (or overhaul) the Affordable Care Act, citing this as a major threat to the disability community’s access to medical care. Another major concern is his plan to convert Medicaid to a block-grant system, a change that would mean that states would receive a lump sum from the federal government to fund their Medicaid programs. This would undoubtedly mean cuts in service, ensuring increased difficulty on the part of individual states to serve resident’s health care needs. As one of our most vulnerable populations, individuals with disabilities would suffer the consequences of this change. (For more information on how the switch to block grants could negatively affect the Medicaid program please click here to access FamiliesUSA’s fact sheet).
Lastly, advocates cite Trump’s comments on the link between vaccines and Autism as incredibly concerning. As ASAN co-founder and President Ari Ne’eman writes, “not only has the autism-vaccine link been shown to be false, but a growing body of scientific evidence shows that autistic people have always existed in approximately the same proportion of the general population, rather than constituting a recent epidemic. But while Trump’s comments on autism have little scientific legitimacy, they have tremendous political relevance. ” Ne’eman points to these comments as a return to the “causation, biology and cure” ideology, rather than the emphasis on “new investments in service, educational methodologies and assistive technology” that advocates have been fighting for and achieving.
How can we fight for Individuals With Disability?
So, now that we are facing the possibility of dramatic and harmful changes to policies that affect individuals with disabilities, how can we – the disability community – protect our loved ones? We can sum it up for you in one word: advocacy.
Advocacy is one of the most powerful roles that a family member, friend, or community member can play for an individual with special needs. It can be vitally important for a number of reasons – it can draw attention to an injustice or unfairness of a government/health policy, it can help prevent people from slipping through the cracks, and it can increase access to special needs resources and often leads others to lend support for a common cause. And, most importantly, it can make it difficult for governing bodies to quietly make changes that have adverse effects on vulnerable communities.
If you are interested in learning more about advocacy, and how you can begin to advocate for individuals with a disability in your family and community please take a moment to check out our Advocacy Resource Page. On this webpage, you will find a comprehensive list of organizations and websites that provide information, contacts, and tips on how to effectively advocate.
Here at M&L, we are firm advocates for the rights of all individuals with disabilities. We advocate daily for these rights and will do everything in our power to continue to fight for these rights no matter who is our President. As always, if you have any questions or would like to know how to begin advocating please take a moment to contact us – we would love to speak with you.
Leave a Comment