ABLE Act Bill Introduced for 112th Congress

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities was introduced in the House by Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), along with 26 additional House co-sponsors, and in the Senate by Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2011 (ABLE Act; S. 1872; H.R. 3423) would create ABLE savings accounts that allow people with disabilities to save for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation. ABLE accounts would be disregarded when determining eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, and other means-tested programs. The ABLE Act was unveiled at a press conference on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol that featured The Arc’s CEO, Peter V. Berns, along with representatives of the National Down Syndrome Society, Autism Speaks, and other national disability organizations. The Arc strongly supports this legislation.

ABLE Act to be Unveiled and Introduced

On Tuesday, November 15, The Arc will join Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and other organizations in outlining the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2011 (ABLE Act) at a press conference on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.  The ABLE Act would allow for tax advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities for certain expenses, like education, housing, and transportation.  The bill would help individuals with disabilities maintain their health, independence, and quality of life.  The Arc’s CEO, Peter V. Berns, will speak along with representatives of the National Down Syndrome Society, Autism Speaks, and other disability organizations.

The Arc to Bring Four Families to White House for Meeting on Medicaid

On Wednesday, July 6th, four families will join The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns and Public Policy Director Marty Ford in a meeting with key staff at the White House on Medicaid.  The purpose of the meeting is for the White House to hear how Medicaid cuts would affect each family’s circumstances as President Obama continues to engage in deficit reduction talks.

The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns Appointed to Presidential Committee

President Barack Obama announced his appointments to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which included The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns. This expert group will provide advice and assistance to President Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a broad range of topics that impact people with I/DD and their families.

The Arc and UCP – New policy operations to be created

Since 2003, the Disability Policy Collaboration (DPC) has been the shared public policy arm of The Arc and UCP. The DPC focuses on federal legislative and regulatory efforts to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Since its inception, the DPC has been a vital force in shaping federal legislation to advance the lives of people with disabilities and, most recently, played a significant role in the passage of Health Care Reform as well as Rosa’s Law. With the announced retirement of Staff Director Paul Marchand in December 2010, the two organizations began a reassessment of the collaboration to determine the most effective way to engage in advocacy and policy efforts in the future. Effective April 1, 2011, the DPC will cease and each organization will resume its own public policy program while continuing to join together on select projects as well as actively participate as members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD).

“The efforts of the DPC have had an immeasurable impact on federal legislation and regulatory efforts that improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc. “As we move forward, The Arc and UCP will continue to be vigorous advocates for people with disabilities and to create opportunity in every aspect of their lives.”

“We are proud of all that the DPC has accomplished over its eight years, pushing for civil rights protections and public policies that provide support to ensure fair and full citizenship for people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Cerebral Palsy. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with The Arc, both as a member of CCD and through shared, targeted projects. We believe that our new approach will only expand the number and strength of advocates striving to create a life without limits for people with disabilities.”